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Twenty-three dead, 200 injured, we wait for more to fall

Updated September 22, 2012
Yesterday, some men put a vulture in a cage and ran across our cities, crying: “Here is a singing bird, hear its songs.” We jumped with excitement, shouting, “Yes, we see a beautiful singing bird.” But vultures don’t sing. They wait. Twenty-three down, 200 injured. Many more to follow. The cage-door will open when the desired number is reached. Only then we will hear the song. The song of death. “I go back to my homeland once a while, not to meet friends or relatives but to see the lonely tree of the village graveyard which moans at night,” said the old man, scratching his bald head with a dirty finger. The king said to the story-telling princess, “I no longer believe in ‘Thousand and One Nights,’ finish your story or not, we will behead you in the morning.” Scherezad and Dunyazad cried all night but found no relief. In the morning, they dug the earth hoping to find an elf that would rescue them. The elf did not but the royal decapitator came and said, “Thank you for digging the grave. Now be ready to die.” So the sisters could not finish their stories which now hang between the earth and the sky, not knowing where to go. But what ultimate losers are we, who were neither with the two sisters nor with their slayer. We believed we could escape our fate if we did nothing and waited for the night to be over. The night is not over. We grope in the dark, trying to account for more than 40,000 violent deaths in the last 10 years. And there were more than 3,500 slaves of the one-eyed Ifrit who blew themselves up. So that we could live? No, they wanted to kill as many as they could, so that they could have 72 virgins. More than 6,000 soldiers also died because they were never told whose side they were on. So when the dawn came, it was false. The door to paradise never opened. And the virgins went where there were streams of milk and honey. But our suicide-bombers went nowhere. They are hanging between the earth and the sky like the stories from ‘Thousand and One Nights.’ Now a deep, dark sea is calling us. And the winds that we thought will bring relief, put dust into our eyes. The red-hot sun gives no respite. There are vultures all around us, waiting for the final act of weakness to tear our eyes out. And we think there is still a way out, that we can escape the final judgment by disguising hate as divine love. Where was love yesterday? What act of kindness did we witness during this killer rage that ran wild all day? Did we look into the eyes of those who did not want to die but had to? Hear the persistent call of this deep, dark sea. The night of retribution is upon us. We have committed the ultimate sin of self-denial. Now we are hollow shells. The water is calling us. There is a sea behind us and ahead of us. “If the boat turns to the right gate, prepare for a wedding. But if it turns left, execute the queen,” Henry VIII said to his soldiers. “Rest in peace,” he said to his wives as they waited for their groom under the ground. Sinbad escaped ghouls and goblins, deep seas and yellow deserts but not Scherezad. She had to fake a story a night to survive. The writers of ‘Thousand and One Nights’ want us to believe otherwise but our Scherezads are married to suicide-bombers who take them to the havens. And their stories remain unfinished. Save yourself if you can. It is a sea you face, a deep, roaring sea. Hear it breathing. It knows no end. And waits for us. We may have heard flowing water before but this is a flood. Flood? Yes, because the Indus is dry. Flood in a dry river? Yes, it is a flood. When the river dried, we built our homes on the riverbed. We thought we had turned the tide; tamed the river. But we could not even tame the vulture, which waits patiently for the cage-door to open. Yet, we thought we tamed the river. Have we tamed the river? What are we scared of then? “Hear the water's call and save yourself from its wrath,” said the old man who was on Noah’s boat, he was found dead with a Phoenician sailor and lived among the slaves of Africa brought to the American shores. He swam across the Indus too, looking for blind dolphins but polluted water deformed the dolphins. The fish are diseased. We eat toxic chemicals and fish that were dead before they were caught. But who are we scared of? And why? The sea, the flood or ourselves? Are we afraid of our own wrath? Of what is buried deep inside us? What are we afraid of and why? What’s inside us is our enemy and is waiting for the right time to strike. The flowing water calls us, daring us to escape. But escape to what? And from what? Where are the safe shores? What we see is the eye of the storm. It is no shore. No escape route. And the storm waits for us, patiently because time is on its side. It can remain hidden in the deep, dark sea, waiting for the right time to turn the sea upside down. We save ourselves from its claws? But how? The sea, the storm and the shore are all traps that death has set for us. So how do we escape them? No one has. In the effort to escape, we are moving towards the deep sea. We are under the water's trance. And we are moving towards the end. So how do you save ourselves, and from what?  
The author is a correspondent for Dawn, based in Washington, DC