April 16. Reply

Reminiscing a dreadful day in my life. Today 16th April, a decade ago, 2007.

It was early morning. Snow flakes were making the surrounding really beautiful. Especially because I was sitting inside of a cozy air conditioned student center, looking out of the glass wall. The hazelnut flavored milk-less coffee used to be one of my favorite, especially when I would be sitting alone. I was reading a paper on “phenomenology of quantum mechanical phases related to my thesis research”. These were the days I had started writing or at-least musing about writing blogs. So I was even perhaps in the mood of writing a poem or something.

The beautiful silence was broken by a strange noise of a crowd. I looked around. A man with a long gun, as long perhaps as himself, of-course a bit smaller, wielding it to the ground was hailing at the folks around “stay indoor”. I for a moment thought it was a terrorist intrusion, I thought the man with the gun was the terrorist who had gained entry to the place. My suspicion had a basis, in the recent past there was a bomb hoax and perhaps another gun incident in the campus with a killing or two. I can’t recollect entirely, to this day, its exactly a decade to the day.

Upon asking perhaps a blonde lady by my side, answered me in the negative. He is the security person warning everyone that a potential threat in the form of a gun man, out at large in the campus, was looming on us. By that time I was down from the first floor of the student center, where I was sitting to the outside of the building where we are promptly advised to go indoor and lock ourselves.

It didn’t take long, I was only a minute away from my office. I quickly went inside and locked myself with the friend. We stayed indoors for 4 hours, occasionally reading our emails about the development outside. The epicenter of the incidence was only a block or two from my office. A student who had killed one or two in the dorms had intruded into one of the class rooms and sprayed bullets indiscriminately at everyone who he could find. The radios declared that the gun man had been subdued and perhaps killed after 4 hours. We prepared to leave for our houses. A friend gave us ride back home. The usual 5 minutes commute in the campus took us a good deal of 45 minutes and a detour only known in times of extreme emergencies like this one. Detour after detours after detours we arrived our respective homes. The radio declared 22 were dead.

By the evening 33 folks were dead including teachers and students from across the globe. Its to my knowledge to this day the largest massacre in school history in the USA.

The university came to a deadly and ghastly sense of belonging and mourning for the 3 days ending with a candle lit remembrance across in the drill field. Some people even have abused a sense of panic and paranoia for years to come. Anytime they wanted to manipulate someone, they would invoke April 16, “Oh you know we can’t take a chance”.

The university got its acts together many times and showed it means to us to stand in unity in such testing times. The gun violence in academic campuses haven’t stopped by any degree. Life goes on, but this day has been and will perhaps be a deep impression in my conscience as to how fragile we are from our own actions.

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