For twelve hundred hostages, most especially Timur Kasumova.
It’s a bright morning. The sun is smiling warmly on just and unjust as they busy about their daily routine. I personally have nothing much to do but get to Post Office, send a permission slip, authorising Voicenet to publish one of my poems in their anthology. This done, I would come back home and work on my computer.
As I approached Post Office, a TIME magazine caught my attention at a newsstand. Though I did not stop to pick it up but I glanced at it and on cover read, “Slaughter of innocents” in bold red. Then I walked away.
Walking away from such caption if it be a graffiti in a subway is easy. But when it is boldly written on picture of a young boy, say age nine or ten; a frigid boy clothed in a blood stained panties, blood gushing out his nose and he’s crying passionately, I must say it is not easy to walk away if you are not heartless.
Paying for stamp, affixing it to my mail, dropping it in big box from which letters would be sorted out; I couldn’t get little boy out of my mind. In fact, I almost messed up stamp while thinking of that little stranger on a cover page.
Heroes are meant to appear on a cover page. Then what makes this boy a hero, I wanted to know? What if that boy is my son, will I walk away from him? What if that boy needs me to know what has happened to him? I can’t help from thinking of so many what ifs.
When ifs begin to stream into my mind, fear grips my heart. That moment I felt my heart taking twice it normal pace. I wanted something desperately, I wanted to go out to Newsstand and pick up that face staring at me.
I got to stand, but he was gone. The magazine was gone. It wasn’t sitting where I saw it first time.
“ I saw a mag right here and it- its gone. It’s a TIME . Of a little boy.”
“I sold it.” The vendor said smiling.
I almost strangled him for that.
“Can I have a copy please?”
“ Sorry, it’s dated for September 13 2004. Don’t have another copy.”
He tried selling me a current edition. But I declined.
I could have ordered that same edition of that little boy if I had a credit card. I would simply go online; place an order for that old edition. But I can’t because I stay in that part of this planet where credit cards are like some UFO.
I tried other Newsstands but to no avail. That edition is sold out. All what these vendors are trying to do is sell me a current edition. I was left with no choice than to vanish into rush crowd like every other person and try to come back to be who I am—A writer.
But instead of going back home to stare into my white screen monitor, I took a cab and went down to beach only to sit on a bench watching waves and thinking about that little boy who survived Beslan school siege in Russia.
After about an hour of living in oblivion, I heard a voice.
“Mind if I sit” she asked
I shook my head like I was being distracted by my girl friend while watching a football game. She sat beside me saying, thank you.
“I’m Helena Williams and you are?”
“Alfred, A.Z. Alfred” I took her hand as she says pleased to me you. I responded.
We sat in silence for say five minutes. And she broke it again
“I’m an editor of a local magazine”
“I’m a writer and a poet” I responded
“ I’m here to read through some mags. Just want to be away from office. I like doing it here from childhood with my mom. So, what are you doing here, thinking on a book or what? She asked pulling out some magazines from her big blue bag.