Unshaken Shake (Part I) / by Aamir Bilal

Whenever an incident happens in Pakistan, most people say that they were so near to that area of incident when in real they had been miles away or practically in a different city altogether. It feels like they follow a trend of some sort of attention seeking or making themselves appear more important to others. These disturbing incidents have risen in their frequency and intensity in the past years and includes all that violence that have occurred because of terrorism. Pakistani cities of Karachi, Quetta and Lahore have seen these shocking blasts take many precious human lives in the past years. One such explosion occurred in Lahore in the summer of 2008. The location was the headquarters of Federal Investigating Agency or the FIA.
That morning was like any other morning. I woke up early and after being done with all the chores I left for a few tasks given by mom. I had to make a trip to my bank too and get a bank draft be made. Another piece of work laid my path for that day cut through the famous Ararkali bazaar. Mani was along me. He took the cheque from me and went to the bank on the Temple Road. Even to this day I shudder at realizing the scary coincidence that the Bank and that Federal Investigation Agency's building were on the same road. Adding to the horror is that the gate of the bank and the gate to the F.I.A.'s complex were exactly across each other. As the events of that day rolled, I went to my work and then Anarkali while Mani went to the bank and we agreed to meet afterwords at a designated place. The bus dropped me off at the Regal which was somewhere middle between Anarkali and the Bank. We both were connected on our phones. I was coming out of a college building in Anarkali (where it even stands today) when I heard a ground shaking boom. The earth and the earthlings trembled. Everyone knew that an explosion occurred. The intensity with which the ground rattled is still so fresh in my mind. I saw a mushroom shaped cloud rising from the south. In a fraction of a second I realized that even Regal Chowk was to that side. Every human that I saw was running in panic. Fear gripped the people when they should have gripped some stronger emotion. As many screams and voices as many people muffled the truth somewhere in between. Someone shouted that a bomb has exploded in Anarkali while someone said that some organized attack occurred in the Lahore High Court. I was in a shock no words could elaborate. The only rational source to the truth was the cloud that was still climbing. It made me sink in fear and worry a lot more that whatever happened didn't happen in Anarkali. The High Court could be a place where, as per logic, evil people could have hit because of all the lawyers movement in those days. I saw some people running towards the Mayo Hospital which too was just a few hundred meters away. I took refuge in a famous medical college's administration building. I pulled out my phone but the network had went down with that bang. Less than two minutes went by when someone I ran along with to be safe pulled out his pocket radio and then I came to know of the location of that blast. It was F.I.A's building.

My blood froze.

I felt as if someone took my soul out. Even in broad daylight, I saw darkness over my eyes, coming into existence from my peripheral vision inwards. My phone was still in my hands. I called Mani even though the network showed no signals. The call didn't go through. At that moment mom called me. I lied to her keeping my voice under composure that we both were together and heard nothing.