May 15th, 2014, the time was 2:30 pm. 70 minutes had passed since I started playing football. Suddenly, my ears picked up the sound of my name being called out by my friend who was shouting at me frantically. I approached him and he asked me to check on my brother who failed to hold back his tears while talking on the phone. This was the beginning of a tragedy that rocked my world.
That day, a phone call had the potential to turn my life around completely.
My brother received a phone call from one of his friends, saying that Nadeem, a friend of mine and of my brother’s as well, was shot and was then in the hospital.
Irritated and shaky, my brother started packing his things, picking up his backpack briskly and was headed to the hospital, so he could understand the situation at hand.
Half an hour passed, and I was still playing football on the field but only my body was present, as my mind was somewhere else. I was sitting down, deep within my thoughts that were disturbingly eating me alive. I was feeling anxious, fearful, shocked, and speechless, all these feelings overwhelming me.
I got the call that I was never ready for, my brother was hysterically crying and as the escaping words painfully reached my ears, I heard him say “Nadeem is in the intensive care unit”. My brain was still in the stage of processing how can someone who I had been with two days before possibly be dying.
I had never been emotional about death, my grandpa, my grandma and more people who I knew and loved had passed away and I had always accepted the reality of their death. However, that time was different, I tried my best not to allow the tears to fall, but the attempt was in no way successful.
However, I still don’t exactly know what took place, the only information I knew is that he got shot and was in the hospital, about to die… My friends received a couple of phone calls and all of them were in distress discussing the life of our friend, it was dreadful when I heard them talking about it as well.
I left the stadium with my best friend who is also Nadeem’s friend. We were walking so slowly and silently next to each other, my body was so weak, it was hard to walk, then he asked me if I thought it was all true? I didn’t know how to answer, as my imagination wasn’t able to imagine him like that, so I lied to him and said, “I don’t think it happened.” I pitied myself when I said this, but I didn’t want to accept what people had told me. Finally, my friend called a taxi to take us to the hospital.
When I walked into the hospital, I felt the depression in the air which was as thick as a cloud on a rainy day. I knew all the faces, but everything was a blur. It was like emotions were speaking, crying and tearing down the walls around me. I was extremely confused, a part of me gave up and believed that he died and the other part refused the fact that he had.
All my emotions froze, my ability to feel left and the only thing I was able to feel was the cold fridge his dead body was kept in. Of course I heard how Nadeem died from people but I couldn’t believe any of the stories I heard. The only thing that I focused on was Nadeem’s dad talking about how his son died, he was hysterically crying while explaining what happened to the press, this scene literally made me unconscious of what was going on around me; I zoned out of the world and started crying.
At that moment, I realized that there is something wrong with the way we live. Some people react to this as a daily routine, but for me it was simply unbelievable. I was in a state of shock for the entire day, I experienced the taste of every feeling a human being could endure.
When I started thinking about his death, it made me look at people differently, and I know that terror comes in different forms and sometimes people believe that it’s something to be proud of, which is extremely shameful.
For me that day is a lesson. Yes, I lost a close friend of mine, but I know for a fact that he made me and others aware of the wrong ideology we have incorporated resulting in the corrupted world we are now living in.
If you are wondering why am I writing this months after his death, it’s basically because we planned to do things during the summer and unfortunately I had to celebrate the New Year and passing into 2015 without him.
Written by Waleed Habib
Edited by Peter Mangi, Emily Perotti and Maria Tirnovanu