"There is a bomb threat" "There is a shooter, you need to run"
Gun violence, bomb threats and attacks seem to be a shared experience for many children who grow up in Karachi- rather Pakistan. The earliest experience I can recall is when I was 8, after which such violence only seemed to escalate.
2006 was when the walls went up, large cement blocks installed to prevent a bomb threat. I remember speaking to a friend at 7am, before the school assembly asking, why there was such low attendance, "why are the walls being raised?".
"There is a bomb threat". I could not comprehend why a Junior school would be the target for a bomb. Why would one gain out of this? I went on with my day, as did everyone else. Such things were not discussed in our school, our teachers went about the day as usual and eventually the view to the park across the street was permanently cut off.
By 2011, Karachi was in a constant state of war. As many others have mentioned, there were frequent strikes, bombs, violent clashes... (I hardly remember going to school to be honest). One day, the school administration decided it was enough, our classes were rescheduled for a Saturday.
I was strolling into school through the back entrance- sluggish, upset- when a teacher of mine ran outside and began asking people to hurry up and get inside. I did not change my pace. "Why is she making me run at 7 am... classes don't start for another 10". That is when I heard her yell "There is a shooter, you need to run". I did not understand what had happened. Why is someone shooting inside a school at 7am on a Saturday? What is there to gain? These are questions that remain unanswered. The shooter lived in a building across the street, he used it as a vantage point to shoot inside the school almost hitting students and teachers. I remember being crouched for hours (perhaps?) under the tables, just as we practiced every week.
I think about these experiences and still feel nothing. Frequent shooter drills, bomb drills, protest drills, attacks had completely desensitized me to such attacks by the time I was a teenager.
It is important to remember the dangers of desensitization to violence, which is something I try to remind myself of daily. It can reduce ones empathy towards victims and increase an apathy towards existence which is dangerous to not only oneself but society in general. It is a task to stay empathetic and continue to highlight the atrocities faced by children who live in such circumstances so that future generations may never have to.