There are quite some times in life when a sense of familiarity develops with foreign bodies; things and strangers. Sunrise after sunrise seeing the same man in the worn out shalwar kameez passing by your window, the neighbor’s cat at your doorstep after every monsoon rain or that corpulent man always letting you sit on the crowded metro bus, we have all felt an eerie sense of bonding with an unknown person or a thing.

In my case, it was a pale girl with dimples. Nestled among them who always did the talking, this short girl had a chiseled face and sat in the same row as mine. Her eyes were little and they gleamed with joy whilst telling tales. Her snot nose dropped daintily and she chuckled when she got the tables correct. We studied together for a year and we never spoke but occasionally, when we’d be the only two in class, the pale girl with dimples and I would exchange a faint smile.

It took me three months to make out what name she yelled, “I’m present!” to and a few more weeks to recognize her from her looped spiraled hair that were tightly held in red ribbons but it took me just one second to realize that the Khadija in the news who had been stabbed twenty three times was indeed the pale girl with dimples from five years ago in school.

I sat in the backseat of my car, disgusted- with bile rising up my throat as my little sibling told me what had happened that day outside our school. Just like I came every day to pick my younger sibling up from Convent of Jesus & Mary, the pale girl with dimples had come to pick little Sofia up. Little was she aware that within minutes she’d be battling death.

Pushing little Sofia playfully into the car and humming to Michael Jackson’s Thriller playing, she was about to make her way in when a ruthless creature covering his dreaded intentions with a helmet, pounced on her. He plunged a knife into her chest and neck. Twice would have been monstrous, but he did not rest till there was an odor of blood. He stabbed her twenty three times. The abnormality, Shah Hussain left no stone unturned whilst attacking; he injured little Sofia as she tried to fight him off with her tiny arms. The driver rushed both the sisters to the hospital.

At this point of listening to the formidable story, the image of Khadija, smirking with dimples, and swinging her pony tail, with a foil wrapped lunch tightly clutched under her arm, flashed before my eyes.

“The hardest thing she’s done is to send the son of a man who fights for people to not be in prison, to prison.”

That dead child lying lifeless in her mother’s arms coming back to life, seven bullets in the head and not one in the brain, all blown into pieces but a shadow of a crawling lad emerging from the scene, twenty-three stabs in the neck and living old enough to see the powerful accused in pain.

March, 2016

Back when I was twelve, I dropped apple juice on the backseat of my car. I watched the leather turn a light shade of yellow before my school bottle’s water washed it away. No matter how much water I poured, the crimson color of blood stained the leather as if it had come with the coral star patches.

April, 2016

The neighbour’s daughter questioned her mother in the most fascinating way. “Ama jaan, why does Khadija apa wear a scarf even when she bathes?”

September 2016

There’s indeed a God up there. My God. Tonight is the night the four layers of wool on my bed won’t make chills run down my spine because, on this very day the man who fights for people to not be behind bars has a criminal son behind them and because, on this very night, the man who plunged a dagger into innocent flesh will not get a good night’s sleep.

December 2016

I survived the attack but I did not win. I did not win because Shah Hussain, the son of a well-known lawyer is still roaming the streets under that helmet because he was granted post arrest bail by a known face; Saifullah Shah. I did not win because my red ribbon is stained with blood. I did not win because it’s not the scar on the neck that hurts, but the fact that the petrifying creature lives outside bars. I did not win because the mighty don’t believe in Justice. You lost. Pakistan lost and the pale girl with the dimples lost.

The article originally appeared here and has been reproduced with permission