The recess bell rang and we rushed towards the recreational area, hopping over every obstacle in our way, trying to free our minds from the depressing issues of the world. “I feel bad for the earthquake victims Ms. Hillary was talking about,” said Alicia, “Even after donating everything I had, I wasn’t satisfied.” “Yeah, earthquake last year was a disaster.” I sighed, as dull memories from the past rejuvenated all over again. Finding ourselves a bench under a shady tree, amongst hundreds of other young teenagers, Alicia and I made ourselves comfortable as we shared our homemade cheese steaks and scrumptious vegetable Pizza slices. The recess was a refreshing break from the tiring schedule of the day and enjoying every bit of it was important. While pushing the last morsel of her cold pizza slice in her mouth, Alicia pointed at the captivating mackerel sky and commented, “The clouds in the sky look beautiful today.” To me however, the scattered clouds in the sky seemed thought provoking rather than “beautiful.” I could feel my heart pounding faster and hear my instinct scream from within, trying to tell me something. “Yes, they do,” I nodded.
A sudden flashback occurred; Saturday morning, 8 AM, I woke up to an outrageous roar from the ground, slapping of doors, cracking and shattering of windows, crackling of cutlery and crashing of cars on the street: A devastating earthquake.
“Sameen?” called Alicia, “What are you thinking?” she asked wondering. “Oh, nothing, I’m just daydreaming,” I lied with a smirk.
The second bell rang, indicating the end of recess. We made our ways back to our classes unwillingly, after saying good bye to each other.
Alicia and I didn’t know each other last year. I was in another city of Pakistan, Islamabad. The destructive earthquake brought me to Karachi, which was away from a fault line but was known as the city of intense criminal activities. I was not unaware of this fact until Alicia told me. However, I had overheard my father talking about how Taliban, a group of Muslim extremists, are involved in such activities.
I remember the first day of grade 7: I met Alicia in my first period Math class. She was like me, drawing Disney characters on her notebook during the lesson. She was interested in anime and so was I. We shared common beliefs and were raised in the same environment. Most of all, we were neighbors.
The last bell of the afternoon rang. I waited for Alicia outside my classroom for ten minutes like I usually did, but she did not appear. I had a feeling she left for home earlier that day, so I left as well.
A slight chill ran through my spine as I stepped inside the entrance of my house. My mother greeted me with a comforting, “How are you sweetheart?” I looked in her eyes and lied with an unsatisfying simper, “Better than ever.” She knew me from inside out and even without an explanation, she knew I was troubled by my thoughts. “That’s great!” she replied with a smirk, “Go change and I’ll make you...