Wednesday, October 9, 2013

To Nairobi Student, The Westgate Mall Attack In Kenya Is 'The Scariest Thing In The World'

Live as Though Today is the Last Day You Have

By Britta Fischer  
Junior Reporter
NAIROBI, Kenya – It’s hard to explain what it feels like, what goes through your head, when a popular mall you visit every weekend is under a terrorist attack.
The first thing that hits you is the confusion, the why. Why are people doing this? Why is this happening? Why, why, why?

And then, it’s denial, the no. This isn’t happening. People can’t be so terrible. This cannot have occurred in a place I’ve walked, eaten, shopped. No, no, no.
After denial comes mourning, the how. How are we meant to get though this? How should we handle it? How will we ever move on? How, how, how?
Lastly, we get to acceptance, the okay. Some achieve this faster than others, most take quite a while to come to terms with the facts, the events, the losses.
Okay, we’re going to be okay. Those people lost their lives, but we’ll get through this. We were so lucky, we’re okay, we’re all right, and we’re alive.
Nuriana Merali
On Sept. 21 at 11:30 a.m., terrorists from the Somalia-based group al-Shabab attacked people at the Westgate Mall in Nairobi, killing at least 67 people, including 15-year-old Nuriana Merali, a girl from my school, and her mom, Selima Merali.
That morning, I was supposed to have breakfast at Artcaffe, a popular restaurant in the mall.
But my school had an event that morning, a back to school picnic that started at noon. There were soccer games going on around the same time, as well as a swim meet.
Almost the entire school population was on campus. We’ve all been saying how grateful we are for having to attend a school event on a Saturday, because if we hadn’t, my school could have had a lot more tragedies than we did.
Besides Nuriana – whose eight-year-old brother Alyaz was shot, but survived – another girl, in the same freshman class, was also shot in the arm. She was hospitalized, but is recovering from her injuries.
I keep telling myself that this sort of thing happens every day, all over the world. There have been school shootings in the United States and bombs going off in Syria, but it’s not the same thing.
When something like this happens somewhere so familiar, it’s the scariest thing in the world. There have been pictures all over the news with dead bodies lying in places I’ve walked, places I’ve eaten, and places I’ve shopped.
Britta Fischer
I used to live my life as though nothing would happen, as though I was untouchable. I went to go to school in the morning and would not think about road mines, or AK-47s or terrorists wiring up a building.
My hair, makeup, and clothes used to be of the utmost importance. But then this happened, and I realized how fragile human life is, how important it really is to live each day to the fullest.
I know it’s cheesy and cliché. I know it’s something people say to make you enjoy the little things life has to offer, but it’s the most accurate thing in the world.
I’m scared all the time. I can’t sleep at night and eating makes me feel sick. Every morning when I get up and go to school, I’m scared that there’s going to be a shooting.
I never used to think about dying, but now, that’s all I do. I think about my family dying, my friends dying, me dying. And it scares me, but it also makes me realize that life is so precious.
Nuriana, with whom I had personally exchanged fun-filled conversations, tragically lost her life. She hadn’t even started living yet. She has a family that will never be the same because she was in the wrong place at the wrong time.
And I feel so incredibly terrible for them, but it also makes me realize how lucky I was, how lucky I am. What if my school wasn’t having the event that Saturday? What if I didn’t have to be there to take shifts at different booths at the school picnic until later?
What if my schedule had allowed me to go to Westgate for breakfast that morning? What if, what if, what if?
But those “what ifs” didn’t happen.
I wasn’t at Westgate that morning because I had to take an early shift selling calendars and couldn’t go to breakfast somewhere that far away, so I went to a restaurant that was closer to my house. I wasn’t there that morning.
The attackers didn’t decide to shoot up the mall the previous weekend, or the one before that, they decided on Sept. 21 during a school event that every single student at my school is now grateful for.
I wasn’t there. But others were, and they will always be remembered.
Life is a gift – it really is. Appreciate it. Hug your friends every day. Kiss your family members and tell them one thing that you love about them every single day.

Live as though today is the last day you have. Live with hopes and dreams. Live with ambition. But most of all, live with love for the life you are blessed to be living.


Yasser Alaa Mobarak said...

Hello Britta,

I'm Yasser from YJI. I'm sorry for your loss. I appreciate your feeling because we are facing the same terrorism in Egypt. We need to go through hard and tough times to be strong later. You should stay strong and hopeful until this nightmare pass.

Greeting from Egypt.

Britta Fischer said...

Thank you very much for your sympathies. I'm sorry you're going through a hard time in Egypt. We think about you guys every day. Thanks for you support, it's very much appreciated :)