When I was in the second grade, I barely escaped a kidnapping.
A few days before I had a nightmare, a premonition, if you will, of what was about to unfold. In my dream, I found myself in a dark room with no door. There was a tiny window, way up high, through which a little light was shining. Every few years, the dream still haunts me, and I always wake up in a sweat, shaken and scared.
When it actually happened, my captor threw me inside an empty room and locked the door from the outside. As my eyes adjusted to the dark, I noticed a brick was missing from one of the walls through which a little light was coming. I ran to it, and peeked out. I could see legs walking at a little distance. I shouted for help. No one heard me.
With my backpack still on, I sat down on the floor facing the doorway. Suddenly, he opened the door and stood right in front of me, staring. I started to cry. I begged for him to let me go. I said I was late and that my mom was waiting for me at home. I told him I had to do a lot of homework. He never said a word. I looked up at him, right into his eyes. He was a young boy, a teenager. I had seen him a few times on my way from school.
Then I started to beg. Even at that age I was immediately filled with shame for having to beg. But I begged anyway. I clasped my hands in front of me and I begged him to let me go. If he didn’t, my mom and dad would miss me. My brothers would cry for me. He just stared. I don’t remember the expression on his face as clearly as I remember my humiliation. Even at that age, at that moment, I knew that I was doing something a human should not have to do. I felt like dirt, and yet, I had to do it. I talked and talked. I told him whatever came to my mind. I told him about my friends. I told him why I liked the swings better than the slide.
He never said a word. He never threatened me. He just stared. Suddenly, he stepped away, and then very casually took out a cigarette to smoke. At first I didn’t know what to do, to bolt through the open door or to wait for him to say something to me. I mustered the courage and bolted.
I wrote my earlier post about having a back-up plan, of having some sort of a home in Pakistan, something to "return" to If America ever becomes hostile to Muslims. I do not wish to live through the humiliation that I suffered as a child in my narrow brush with the kidnapper. The act of begging from another human to show you some grace, to allow you freedom, is utterly humiliating.
I wish to always live freely, without feeling ashamed, without humiliation, as I do now, in the country that I love and call home.