New York City – Central Park – Shooting of a teenage white boy by a Middle Eastern youth.
Craziness in the city. Demonstrations in front of mosques. Arabs versus the Western world.
I was in the park when I first saw two white teenage boys break away from a crowd of demonstrators aimed at fighting with another group of Middle Easterners farther away on the other side. They were twins and dressed identically. I broke away as well and chased them, yelling for them to come back, to stop – one of them was waving a gun.
I knew their plan right away. One of them would kill a member of the opposing group and then each would swear the other had done it and neither could be convicted of the killing. I had seen it a million times on Law & Order. Reasonable doubt. It does it all the time and the guilty person goes free.
I ran as fast as I could but suddenly I found myself in the midst of all of the other demonstrators and up against an opposing teenage boy also waving a gun to shoot the two approaching.
I ran right into him and grabbed his arm. There was nothing I could do to help the other teenage boys and I prayed someone else would do what I was doing now, trying to avert a horrific tragedy.
He screamed at me in Arabic and struggled desperately to free his gun-toting arm from my grasp. I kept yelling him to put the gun down and although he could have easily overpowered me I wouldn’t let go. Then he took me completely by surprise; he turned the gun first on me and then on himself. I began to cry and begged him not to do it, not to shoot himself or anyone else. I heard his friends call to him. “Nazim don’t do it!”
The police had moved in on both sides and the other teenagers were brought down quickly.
Nazim fell to the ground on his knees and let the gun fall onto the grass. I fell down beside him and cradled him in my arms. His eyes were as dark as a midnight sky without stars or clouds. They were deep like the ocean and I found myself lost in their beauty.
My heart nearly exploded with exultation that I had prevented one, if not two ancient time ridden executions in a modern society in an avant garde city.
Nazim looked at me, his piercing eyes mesmerizing me. And then his look changed and it was a look of recognition. Although I did not recognize him, something in his eyes told me he definitely knew me.
“I know you,” he said, tears running down his dark skinned face. “I know you.”
“You couldn’t know me,” I replied. “I’ve never seen you before.”
“But I have seen you. Two years ago I broke into your apartment on the West Side and tried to kill you when you found me inside your home.”
I remembered that day all too well.
I was pregnant and had gone to the beach with my husband. Stupidly, I had let myself get sunburned, a “no-no” for a pregnant woman. I left work early and went home only to find someone inside my apartment trying to steal the few items that a newly-married couple might own.
I never got a good look at the robber because I turned around and literally ran for my life until I reached the sidewalk outside. I stopped running and walked slowly so as not to stand out in the bustling crowd of people walking up and down my street. The robber came after me but couldn’t make me out and ran away. That night I lost my son from the shock of having to run for my life.
I started to comprehend what Nazim was saying. It had been him who had broken into my apartment and tried to kill me. For a moment I was incredulously stunned.
I had always been a spiritual person and now believed that this moment had happened for a reason. Although I grieved over the loss of my child, I had learned to move on and forgive this person I did not know then in order to survive. And months down the timeline, I did give birth to a son, the one who did not make it down from Heaven the first time.
Time stood still for what seemed an eternity.
I took Nazim’s tear-stained face in my hands and said: “I forgave you then, I forgive you now and now you must learn to do the same.”