When The Air Strikes

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“Yeah, wow. But the working is a little complicated. Since you’re entering warzone from a Dubai based firm, you will need approval from the government. And you cannot get sanctions unless your resume is backed by an internationally recognized organization of your field. This helps in preventing inexperienced amateurs from putting their lives in fatal dangers.”

“Why do the preconditions sound like they have been set up to inhibit our progress, and our progress alone?” Luke interrogates cynically.

“I don’t know. I’m not responsible for enforcing norms in interest of worldwide journalism etcetera.”

Nikki springs, her sleeves flapping like crazy dog ears as she puts her hands on her waist, swinging sideways looking pleased with what she has in her head, “Maybe, not worldwide, but you own a newspaper. You are all the godforsaken backup we need. If I am not mistaken you select two aspiring interns from around the city annually. Most of them end up getting degrees to come back and work at your office. I am pretty if it is Luke and Zara who should be chosen this year then the problem’s solved. The government wouldn’t care for the level of skill as long as these two have your tag. The newspaper is quite reputed, if I may.”

“Oh, sure it is,” Hanna chimes in, looking at Andrew with desperation, turning to wink at Nikki. I give both the women a huge thumbs up.

“Well yes, the problem would be solved. But, I don’t think I’d like to be very extravagant about their visit. I will inevitably have to reveal to the staff the reason behind my choice of interns,” Andrew slows down, very gingerly looking at Luke and me, “Unless, unless of course they are two deserving persons who ought to be the ones we handpick from around the city. I mean both of you are great writers.”

“Thanks for that,” Luke raises his eyebrows. He mocks a heart attack, clutching his heart.

Suddenly Hanna sounds really excited, “Yeah, they are both great writers. This is icing on the cake.”

“Uh, no it’s not. It is a three tier cake of its own,” Luke says in our defense.

I look around and everywhere I see inspiration. There’s a yellow colour vase which makes me want to smile and two turquoise flowers in it that have got my feet tapping. I think of all the lies we’ve been fed about superheroes and capes and unnatural powers. Here in front of me are four people stripped down to regular clothes and humanness, ready to take on death for a girl and her parents. I cannot help but twirl around at full speed.

It’s time for Luke and Hanna to go home. Andrew asks all of us to meet him in his office at ten in the morning the next day, “I have to book tickets and make arrangements for you now, so I cannot afford to stay any longer. Here Zara, you can have Ashraf’s visiting card. Look him up and see if you can maybe actually help him in some way with his documentary.”

We all say our goodbyes. I get into the Colonel’s car with Hanna and Luke. Luke is driving and I sit with him in the front. I can feel bile rising from the base of my mouth making its way to the tongue. Bitter mouth has always been an indication of nervousness and anxiety in me. But today there’s a conventionally unacceptable happiness mixed in tea spoon amounts with the large ocean of body juices. There’s a song stuck in my head, its lyrics scraping my coiled brain.

“…..hmmm, look at the stars, uh, what comes next?”

Say what now?”

The song by Coldplay. We used to sing it all the time. Once mum, dad and I screamed the chorus from our car windows, on the way to the beach.”

Yellow? Yes, yellow.”

I don’t remember the words, can you sing it a little for me.”

The girl’s lost it.”

“Look at the stars, look how they shine for you.”

“And everything you do. Thanks, Hanna. Come on Luke. You know you want it.”

Whatever. Yeah, they were all yellow.”

None of us know how the song ends so we sing the chorus till we reach my apartment. I sing it on the way back. Nona is happy to catch a glimpse of the Zara she’s known all her life.

Look at the starts look how they shine for you yeah they were all yellow.

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