Shooting Stars

My father and I went to the market; he had suggested it since I had been frustrated with the constant crying of my newborn child. My husband, eager to help, had taken our son from my arms, and told me to take a break. I hurried along, happy to escape for a while. We were away for one hour, and as we walked back I saw my mother sitting in the balcony enjoying a tiny glass of green tea. I could see my brother playing football with the neighbor’s son on the street, my brother had been screaming “goal” and dancing. He saw us and instantly waved his hands in excitement and just as I started raising my hand to wave back, the shooting stars rained upon us.

***

Attempting to sit down with a couple of broken ribs was very painful, but I managed. I had to. My dad sat down next to me, wincing because he accidentally moved his broken arm. It wasn’t a comfortable place to sit, but it wasn’t like we had that much of an option. He looked at me with a smile though and hugged me with his other arm. He wouldn’t leave my side; he made sure I came with him even when I begged him to leave me behind, to save himself. We were both a mess, from burns, broken bones, cuts and bruises, but we made it.

Here I’m with my father on top of the rubble, battered as we watched the sky. We sat there in silence as we huddled close, not feeling that much of the pain. Maybe it was the adrenaline coursing through our bodies, at this point it didn’t matter. I sighed and laid my head on my father’s chest; I could hear his heart beating fast. It was very calming. I looked up at the sky, it was dark. I couldn’t see the stars or the moon from all the smoke; I could only see the shooting stars. They were magnificent; they flew with so much grace. Next to me my father shuddered, he was looking down at the rubble of what was once our home. If I looked closely I would still see my husband from where I sat, I smiled at his protective nature. He was covering our four months old child with his body. I could see someone’s arm too, I thought it belonged to my neighbor but I wasn’t sure. My baby brother was crushed by a car nearby. We stayed next to him till he stopped screaming and crying from the pain, till he finally took his last breath. I could hear someone screaming from under the bricks and stones but the agony eventually died out. There were scattered limbs everywhere and even someone’s brain. I had never seen a human brain before; it doesn’t look that different from a cow’s. We couldn’t find my other brothers and my mother, but we knew they didn’t survive. No one did.

I shuddered in fear as the shooting stars neared us, my father held me close. I could feel his arm trembling. He tried to be stoic to what was too come, but death is a hard enemy to face. I like to believe it wasn’t death that scared us, it was the pain. My heart jumped, beating faster; I hid my face into my father’s arm as my body shook violently. The smell of burnt flesh made it difficult to calm my racing heart. I don’t know how long it took, it could have been a second, a minute or an hour but it felt like forever. My eyes were squeezed shut. Anytime now I thought. The earth shook with the impact, I could feel it. I could see it too, behind my eyelids. Bright light pierced through them, I smiled because the shooting stars were giving me a sign that it had begun striking again. I kept my eyes shut, waiting to meet my creator. Everything went quiet and I heard my son crying, and a hand touched my back and as I turned I found my husband crouched down close to me, smiling.

“What took you so long?” he asked as he handed me our son.

***

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