Close to Home…Again.

Marathon Monday — Patriot’s Day is a time when Boston’s streets are full of people. Commonwealth Avenue, the street I live on, is splashed with color and celebrations. The Boston Marathon, is the world’s oldest marathon and attracts about 500,000 spectators. It’s a holiday, and for this college town, that means a day away from the usual stress of life. The weather was exceptionally beautiful for a change – the sun shining on a clear spring day,

Copley Square, the finish line for the Boston Marathon and the heart of downtown Boston, was abuzz with festivity.

26,839 runners were registered, from all U.S. states and territories and 96 different countries. 17,600 had crossed the finish lines.

About 4,500 other could not finish.

This afternoon, the city of Boston was struck by two bomb blasts at about 3pm. Close to the historic Boston Public Library and in the tourist hub of Copley Square, the explosion occurred within ten seconds of each other.

The city was in shock. I could hear loud sirens and emergency vehicles. Panicked voices and phone calls filled the air. There were mixed reports. It couldn’t be true.

“Just heard the news of blasts in ….” – was the first text I read. My immediate reaction was the safety of everyone back home in Islamabad. Then I read the whole thing “blasts in Boston.”

The city I’ve known as home for the last four years too was struck with panic. It was eerily reminiscent of  the panicked responses that I had become too familiar with in Pakistan. Another bomb blast. Another casualty. Another death. Until it all becomes a headline, a statistic, a fact. Your idea of normal changes. You start to identify areas that are not safe. Life goes on, you think.

They say you become numb to tragedy. A part of you dies every time you hear the news. Your brain wants to block it all out; to pretend that everything’s okay. You still want to hold on to a semblance of normality.

2 dead, At Least 102 Hurt in Explosions At Boston Marathon Finish Line” – the headline reads. An 8 year old girl is among those killed

And then there is the cacophony of voices; the blame games. Everyone playing detective, the “whodunnit,” before the “what was it.” Everyone has an opinion, fact or fiction.

Newspapers like the New York Post were quick to create panic. Using yellow journalistic tactics to report unverified information, they managed to spread rumors among an already panicked town. In the mess, hate-mongers too played their role. “Please don’t be a Muslim” became a ubiquitous fear. In the confusion, President Obama urged to remain calm: “we still do not know who did this or why and people shouldn’t jump to conclusions before we have all of the facts.”

But as much as tragedy can create panic, it can also bring out the best in people. There were stories of kindness.

At this time 3,805 generous people have offered their place to people displaced because of  the blasts, and more are responding. After calls for blood donations, hundreds of people rushed to donate, and are still donating at various locations, including http://www.redcrossblood.org/ma . Google too was quick to respond with a person finder, putting people in touch with safety hotlines.

I’m worried for my city, and my heart goes out to each and everyone affected by the blasts. And to all the haters, I say “wrong is wrong. Let people grieve what is wrong, no matter how big or small.”

Prayers for Boston.

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8 thoughts on “Close to Home…Again.

  1. couldn’t agree more…a very sad news indeed, and condolences out to the families who have suffered, but at the same time id like people across the globe to spare a thought about those living in Syria, Palestine, Pakistan etc,of which many are frequently bombarded and have to cope up with this misery ..
    we stand together in this fight and such attacks on humanity shall be avenged by those who fight for peace InshaAllah.

    1. Yes, we stand together in this fight, and will continue to pray and hope for peace. We need to counter all this violence by doubling our acts of kindness. Today’s news had tragic events from Iraq, Pakistan, Syria etc. and we were all one in the pain. Someone wrote something that struck with me today, “people’s lives may not be equal, but death equalizes everyone, everywhere,” and so we can’t compare events… We can just pray and work towards ending suffering everywhere in the world…

  2. That needed to be said. ❤ on one hand, we've Islamophobes and on the other; those maniacs who'd compare one life's worth with other. Shallow!

    Hang in there, in the middle ground! ❤

    1. Thank you for the love and support, Zehra <3. I guess it's hard to be reasonable in these situations, people get blinded by their emotions, until they refuse to see the truth. Prayers for all.

    1. Collective empathy makes up for all the hate =). I just hope people stop using horrific events like this one to perpetuate political agendas/compare tragedies.

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