I looked up and our eyes met. His cold and grim, mine scared and surprised. How is it that he spotted me amidst this mammoth crowd? He kept his eyes on me. OMG! There were about five hundred people gathered here, why me?
He was unfazed that I had seen him. He seemed not to care that I could out him and have the crowd turn on him. Did this guy know anything about mob justice? Even then, the thought of the mob meting out justice on him was not much of a consolation to the effect his disturbing piercing look had on me.
Choosing to ignore him, I stood on my toes and stretched my neck in an attempt to see what everyone else was trying to see. There were two sets of people; the crowd at the periphery that was struggling to surge forward to find out what the fuss was about; and the other (lucky?) ones at the centre who had access to the ‘action’. These were the crowd pullers who attracted the rest as they looked on curiously at something. I couldn’t make out their faces; was it shock, fear, disgust, or sheer curiosity written on their faces. What were they all looking at? Was it a dead body? A man hit by a car perhaps? A victim of violent robbery? A sick man or woman with epilepsy maybe, who had suffered an attack on his way to Godknowswhere? Was it a woman giving birth? A fighting couple? Two men fighting over a girl? Ha! It could easily be two girls clawing at each other and pulling each other’s weaves because of a man! A lost child perchance? A new-born infant thrown and left for dead? An aborted fetus? What was it?!
As I wondered what the reason behind the gathering could be, I was apprehensive of the man looking down from the storey building above us with a rifle in his hands. No one seemed to have seen him but me. That was not the scary part. The scary thing was that he had spotted me and he knew that I knew that he was up there. With a gun! I was afraid to look up again, lest our eyes met for the second time. Oddly enough, I could not move my feet yet my head was telling me that I should scurry off to safety, as far away from this crowd as my feet could carry me. My brain communicated this danger to the rest of my body, but my feet refused to take any orders. So I stood there, rooted to the ground. A part of the crowd yet all alone. Singled out.
Soon the crowd at the centre (the lucky ones) started looking around as if searching for something, someone perhaps? It appeared as if they had discussed something amongst themselves and decided that there was a puzzle missing that would complete the mystery of whatever it was they were witnessing. They searched the crowd with their eyes, sifting through the hundreds of people. Instinctively, I looked up again to see if Mr. Rifle was still up there.
Sure enough, he was still there, still looking straight at me and still holding his rifle. Only this time, he aimed it at me! There was no sound when he pulled the trigger. I saw the bullet leave the barrel and come straight at me. Slowly, like it was determined not to miss its target. My legs insisted on disobeying me and so I stood still, my feet glued to the ground. Since I could not find my voice either, I looked down and covered my eyes with my hands. Then I waited.
The bullet hit my skull neatly. Imagine when you drive a nail with a hammer into a soft piece of wood and it goes in without much resistance. That’s how the back of my head received the bullet. I tasted blood at the back of my mouth, like it was trickling from my brain, or up there somewhere. Then I felt some fluid oozing from my nose. I wiped it with my hands. More blood.
I found my voice (FINALLY!) and asked the crowd to help me! To take me to hospital quickly, fast! That I had been shot! That I did not want to die! That I had children who needed me! That I was losing blood and needed medical attention!
The crowd looked at me with blank faces. No one moved and no one said a word as I stood there with a bullet lodged at the back of my head, bleeding from my nose and mouth and my heart pounding like a drum…
When I woke up my heart was pounding indeed like a million drums!