The day I smelled panic

The day I smelled panic

The amphitheatre was filled with panicky murmurs and frightened eyes. His words had fallen like boulders, cracking the sidewalk. We were ushered to our respective classrooms by comforting class teachers who first thought of us and their duties in spite of having their own families to worry about. Their strength and compassion and unselfishness amazed me.  There was a huge rush to call parents and absolute pandemonium.  I called my mother with trembling hands and she picked up on the first ring.

My blank state of mind had now turned to panic .The sound of her voice was so soothing and comforting that I knew at once that everything was going to be okay. She had a certain strength in her voice, but underneath that strong facade, I could sense an edge of fear and panic for our safety. She told me to go comfort my sister since she gets scared very easily. I mumbled a quick "love you" to her and it immediately made both of us get a catch in our throats.

My classmates were in a complete mess. We all had seen and heard news about bomb blasts on TV and read it in the newspaper but experiencing the shock firsthand was totally different. Each one of us wanted to know whether our family and friends were safe. We had heard that there was a blast near a mall and one of my friend's mother was supposed to go shopping at that same mall. My friend was at the edge of hysteria and it was impossible to calm him down.

The corridors of the school were empty as though there had been blasts in our own school...an eerie silence prevailed. My sister's class, being younger, were in a terrible condition. Most of them were crying inconsolably....it was heartening to see them comforting each other.  I found my sister huddled in a corner crying silently. I felt an overwhelming feeling of protectiveness for her.

I comforted her as much as I could by assuring her that all would be fine and that I had spoken to our mother and they were all fine.  Surrounded by my friends, I recalled what had gone through my mind the first time I heard the bad news. I had thought of my mother's loving eyes, my father's strong embrace and reassuring voice. I had thought of all the good times I had had with my friends.

A voice snapped me out of my reverie. My teacher had just announced that bus 13 could leave and I jumped with relief. I was on bus 13. My classmates were still crying and it pained me to look at them in this state.

I prayed their buses would leave soon too and felt a mix of guilt and relief at being the first to leave. My sister and I walked together in compatible silence. I could tell she felt relieved, as I did.  The usually congested and bustling streets had a deserted look and the city seemed to be cloaked in a veil of gloom.  My mother met me halfway on the way home. I ran to her and gave her the tightest hug I had ever given anyone.
She rubbed soothing circles on my back and held my sisters hands, and hugged us. We headed home in tense silence.

I realised that day that the future always holds the unexpected. No one can determine what is going to happen.

That day is engraved in my memory. It made me realise how much I value life and the people in my life..... And that anytime, anywhere, anything could happen to anyone.  

By Shivangi Kajaria
Age 13,
STD 8, MAIS

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