Being here makes me think about fear a lot. I tried putting it on a scale to see which is the worst kind. The time we were teaching at summer camp and heard gunshots but didn't get hurt? Didn't really care. The time your students didn't show up to class because so many kids were shot dead in their neighbourhood? Gut-wrenching, but not frightening. The time you saw your old school half blown to pieces on TV? Soul-crushing, but it happens. The time, every single day, when you call someone you love to check if they're at work yet, left work yet, home yet, stuck in a riot yet, safe yet? That is terror, every day, twice a day. The bogeymen who no longer occupy my nightmares are out to plague waking life and their imaginative strength seems to feed on my fear like a parasite. Hear a door slam and you think "bomb blast." See two guys on a motorcycle stopping for a cigarette and you think "shit, we're getting mugged."
You can call me a bourgeoisie pig, but in the past year I have spent enough time venturing into Karachi's seedy underbelly and the schools it houses for it to haunt me forever. I feel like a coward for even thinking it, let alone writing it, but I don't ever want to make an "Are you okay?" call again. It's made me fast forward to thinking about kids, and how I don't want to have any if it means sending them out to a warzone every morning, or raising them with a psyche as insanely messed up as mine seems to have become.