After 9/11, our teacher asked us to write an essay on when it is appropriate to kill someone. I guess the first thing that came into most students’ minds was: “Is it appropriate to kill Osama bin Laden?” “What are the moral and ethical implications to kill a religious or political figure that is presented in the media as an evil person?” “If it isn’t appropriate to kill Osama, would it be appropriate to kill any other political leader such as Adolf Hitler or Idi Amin Dada?” My mind went somewhere else. I wasn’t interested in the politics of it. To me, obviously, if someone rises to the top as a political threat, there are ideas or beliefs that put him there, and killing that person does not eradicate those beliefs, it only fuels them and gives them power and, therefore, reality. Then what? That can’t be conducive to peace and harmony. No, my mind went somewhere else, somewhere personal, very real, and, up to yesterday, very painful.
I was five years old when I saw my dad shoot an intruder. The blast, the face pierced and distorted, the blood, the brain pieces, all real, forever indelibly set in slow motion in the deepest fabric of my being.
It was just past three in the morning. I remember hearing the living room grandfather clock’s chime. I had just woken up from a nightmare in which a hooded man dressed in black strangled my dad. I could not see his face, only his hands. It took minutes. Breathless, dread-filled minutes. Mom and I were hiding under the couch. She was holding my mouth so I wouldn’t scream. Her hand felt limp suddenly. I knew she had fainted. My dad’s killer had disappeared. I woke up with a strange feeling of trying to scream without being able to, as though my voice had been tampered with. That’s when I realized it wasn’t real. I heard the clock. I heard some unusual noises downstairs. I walked softly to the top of the stairs and I saw my dad shoot a man dressed in black with no hood. I was shaking and sweat was pouring out of my pores drenching my pajamas. I did not know I had so much water that could merely leak out through my skin.
I could not speak for several days after that and I did not want to be around dad. Dad and Mom knew it had to do with the events that night but they could not get a word out of me. They sent me to a counselor lady who asked me to draw pictures, anything I wanted. All that I could draw was lifeless bodies, missing parts, lying in blood, with many, many, angels hovering over them.
The essay homework came eight years later. I was still torn inside. Torn about the need for one man to die to save another’s life, and his family. I felt guilty for preferring us to live over a stranger I did not even know. I did not know how to express any of that to the lady counselor at the time. The essay was giving me a chance to talk about it and not keep it all inside; a mysterious and confusing forbidden land.