Ayesha opened her eyes to darkness.
“What had happened?” she thought as she tried to make sense of her present.
She could taste blood in her mouth. She slowly started feeling the pain in her arms. She could move her hands.
There was a light shining through the rubble. It wasn’t too bright. Just enough to offer hope that there was a way out. Ayesha was trapped beneath the rubble.
It happened so fast. She was in her room reading. Ummi was in the kitchen. Abba had gone out to see someone.
She tried wiggling her tiny body out of the rubble which was once part of her bedroom.
She was stuck. She couldn’t feel her legs.
“C’mon! Just a little bit!” she said to herself. Her voice sounded hoarse and unworldly with all the blood in her mouth.
She felt her legs move. She tried again and with some effort broke free from the rubble. She couldn’t see Ummi anywhere in the darkness although her eyes kept seeking her.
She crawled slowly towards the light maneuvering herself through the rubble which had engulfed her.
“Help! Help me!” her eleven year old tiny gentle voice was now replaced by hoarse grunting. She could hear people running. Strange pounding noises filled the air.
She reached the hole from where the light was shining. She moved around a few stones and made the hole a little wider, enough to give her a glimpse of the outside world.
There was smoke as far as she could see. The buildings were gone, turned into smoke and rubble. She could see people running, crying.
“Help me!” she tried again.
Suddenly, her eyes met another pair of dark brown eyes. Before she knew it, she was pulled out of the rubble. She looked up to see a woman with dirt on her face and clothes dripping with blood.
“Come out my child! Are you okay?” she asked.
Ayesha nodded a vague yes.
“What… Where… Ummi…Abba…” So many questions but only disconnected words came out of Ayesha’s bloody mouth.
“Here, drink some water first.” The women thrust a small plastic bottle half filled with water. Ayesha took a sip only to spit out a mass of dirty red. In the smoke-filled daylight, she saw it. The blood. Her own blood. She looked at her hands, her feet and her clothes – drenched in blood.
“They bombed our town…” said the woman, her voice filled with sadness.
“Drink some water… We need to get out of here.” Her voice was in pain but firm and determined.
Ayesha quietly took another sip of water. Reality suddenly hit her. Her Ummi was in the kitchen when it happened. She had to save her Ummi!
“Ummi? Did you see my Ummi?” her words merged with the blood.
The woman bowed down her head and pointed her finger towards the rubble.
Ayesha didn’t understand. She got up with all the energy she could gather and walked towards where the woman had pointed.
“Ummi! Ummi!! Can you hear me? Where are you Ummi?” Ayesha screamed. Her mouth filled with blood and her eyes with tears.
Then, she saw it. A face in the rubble. She ran towards it.
“Ummi…” her voice gentle and small again. It was her mother. Not breathing.
And all around, she saw it.