At last, she and Afaq arrive at the center of the swirling, carnivalesque multitude in front of a kiosk. Stretching out above them is an enormous, transparent atrium, a box of glass beyond which the city’s buses are rolling in and out of their slots, white and blue. The music is at its loudest while the crowd is imperceptibly surging in the rhythm of its bass drums, which are thumping vehemently. Somewhere a man says “Rüüdig glatt gse” but what in seven heavens could that mean? Is this really where they were meant to go?
Neither Abida nor Aafaq expected temperatures to be this cold so that now their bare middle sections are presenting goose bumps. Both of their bossoms and bums are huge, since this is where they have stashed the explosives. The one-time water-fetcher has predicted correctly: their curves would only be at the center of sexual, not any other form of attention. But she is none the happier for it, never is when the world truckles to her lowest expectations.
Abida and Afaq look around, crowd-stunned. The location is perfect, short of a stampede the mass of human beings could not possibly be any denser. The air is refreshingly free of any stench, tempting Abida to inhale deeply in an attempt to calm her galloping heart but she’s too scared that she will breath in some of the chaos too. Instead she grasps unperturbed Afaq’s shoulder turning towards her. Now the two attractive, resolute, young women stand there, frozen particles in an ocean of motion, facing each other, looking into each other’s eyes not so much because these are their last moments together but to see if they are, both of them, convinced and ready. People have been well-known to bail out at the last possible second before. Abida looks up at the clock: 27 seconds.
– Ahwh look at them, all drunk and out of control. They are truely the weakest of men, thinking the world is their sport when they deserve nothing. Who is one to think earthly affairs are a matter of one’s own will?
– I don’t know, it doesn’t matter. A message has to be delivered, a point has to be made, a patch of ground is to be cleared. There have always been times of sacrifice and today will be no different. Afaq, my sister, I am very happy to have shared so many meals with you and we will meet again on the other side.
– It has been my pleasure too, words and food and laughter, Abida. I will see you there.
The taller one, Abida, unlatches the safety handle and depresses the button, which sets off an immense detonation.
After the passage of many beats of the heart the smoke begins clearing at last. Cries can be heard in different quarters of the train station, human figures walking around ghostly and confused, looking for whatever it is they lost in the explosion.
Abida stands there blinking in confusion unable to comprehend why under the sight of the most high she would still be alive. She looks down at herself: her jinnee costume has been blasted to tatters and is hanging from her in limp shreds of purple, yellow and red, singed along the edges. Her skin is everywhere darkened by black smudges and her hair stands up like an explosion. The only clothing she is left with is her skimpy underwear. Standing across from her Afaq is very much her mirror image, also still blinking in an effort to come to terms with what just happened.