Its been 5 long years, that I have tried to pretend, living as if nothing ever went wrong. But no matter how fast or how far you run, things have a way of always finding you back.

Memories are like these musical symphonies that you cannot get out of your head. The interpretation of those memories of course is different, varying from person to person following a perspective. But to the master readers,

the notes are always consistent and constant, such is the case with memories.

They can be glorified, personified, intensified, but they would always remain a broken piece of glass stuck under someone’s foot hurting them as they walk along their lives.

5 years ago, two roads diverged in a school building, one walked the way of life, and the other, straight into the abyss of death. On these two roads, walked two young kids, who were gearing up to live an adult life. Excited at the prospect of getting older, much wiser, finding independence and joy as they came of age. I don’t know what made me happier, the fact that we were 18, or the idea that we were now old enough to be called wiser than our siblings. And just like every 18 year old, we saw our dreams, and strung every piece of them together, weaving a multi coloured cloth that now represented our dreams and put them forward infront of the world.

Dreams somehow are at the very center of our existence, as they can either allow you to become better or when left unfulfilled they become the very reason of your undoing. We both dared to dream, not knowing that we lived in a time where dreams are the very reason people get caught, murdered, or even have disappeared. We dreamed to be good humans, one wanted to be a good doctor, who would work for the poor of my beloved country, while the other wanted to become an astrophysicist and restore the cosmic dominance we once possessed over the world. Silly dreams these, serving humanity, and exploring the reason of our very being. Not knowing, the same cause we both wanted to work for, would somehow be responsible for the creation of a storm in our lives.

Our last words to one another were: “I hope you can pass this exam, for its not looking too good for you”, he said

“Im sure I can pull off a miracle to save myself, then again, you need a miracle to save yourself from Mam Qazi, and since Im not doing good, she has her sights on me. I hope I can do it”, I replied.

“Wait up for me in the parking lot”, he said.

“Sure brother”, I replied.

I wish either of us knew that this was our last goodbye!

Paths changed and perhaps so did our lives. And what happened after is a tale of unspeakable horrors. I don’t know how I have found the courage to write what I am writing right now, but today is surely the day that I want to put this out infront of the world.

Today, I want to acknowledge and believe in the fact that we are all the same, made up of flesh, bones, and star dust, all trying to escape the inevitability of a fractured life, a control that we have set up for ourselves, a code to abide by. In my years of experience as a survivor, I have realized that we all try to exist behind our pain, until we are forced to confront it and for me, that day has come.

For 5 years now, I have felt this burden, a burden that perhaps was of my own making. This weight offitting in as a survivor, trying to smile on 364 days, while one remained. A single day that I was forced to wipe of my smile, because then for some, I was violating the memory of the slain. It was as if the earth had chained me, and wasn’t allowing me to leave this impeding cycle of tears that walked with the rising sun on that wretched day and went down with the setting sun.

For all this time, I have heard death sing to me the slow lullabies it must have sang to him that day. I have heard the endless echo of a dying voice, a voice that became the very reason of haunt for me in all these years. Death, to me, is a worthy foe to a survivor.

For only a survivor has cheated and escaped the clutches of death and has looked death in the eye and has dared to smile back at it. But as this memory destroyed and deconstructed me, it rebuilt me, as if all these people caught me mid fall and sprung me back to life. This is when I realized that this would not be their end.

And I will not allow death to dictate their finale, that this death would not be their story. So I made it my story, our story, a story for all of us to share. A story for all of us to remember, a story for all of us to tell. I do not know what happened after, I am unaware of his whereabouts from the day he went 6 feet under. But I do remember a pile of

dirt, on top of which there is a white stone that reads his name on it. There I made a promise, a promise

I intend to keep!

For if I couldn’t fight to keep them alive, I would fight to give their memory a pulse, a rhythm, a heartbeat, a song for us to dance to, a song for us to celebrate, not a death, but a life, rather a message from beyond the grave. And so I live to protect it, to honor it, to cherish it, for it’s the last I heard from my friend.

For me this story is his one last smile, their one last laughter, so I intend to smile and laugh along with them this year.

After all this time, I am ready to smile now, Im ready to let go of the hurt now. This nowhere means that my war has stopped but only that from now on, I will not give December the power to kill me before death. This month has taken so much from me, so now I intend to fight back, rather steal something back, a little something that was always mine to begin with, My right to smile on December 16th . And a little something that I want to give back to December.

“I forgive you”