It has occurred to me that most of the people in my own country have a notion of terrorist bombings in an action movie sort of way, but probably not in a daily newspaper sort of way. They are more common than I remember thinking before living here. The first time a young person hears of crowds of people being blown to shreds in a temple or butchered by car-bombs in a marketplace, it is a vivid exposure to a very dark side of humanity. After we grow up, we realize that such things are common in some places and we begin to regard those lands as savage or violent or otherwise unenlightened, and certainly altogether foreign.
The suicide bomber has on occasion shaken the Western spirit of security by its very foundations, reminding us to have a fear that we have long ignored. Our typical suicide bombers in the West have lost all reason, we say, we hope. Things have ended badly and as their tormented spirits cry for revenge, they kill their classmates or coworkers or families. In chilling contrast, the religious suicide bomber experiences no such breakdown of reason. They are meticulous and resolute, planning for months and proudly serving a purpose. Their actions are not viewed as a desperate departure from their upbringing, but rather as a focused culmination.
Their victims are helpless, fearful and passively accepting of the fate that may be hurtling toward them in the next rickshaw.
A killer gazes lucidly,
Plunging toward eternity,
Pleased with opportunity
And brazen with impunity,
Through trudging masses tired by fear,
Unaware he's finally near.
Rickshaw goaded through the crowds
To die in stillness with two shrouds,
Of smoking canvas painted gold,
Of burning hatred ages old.
Twisted bicycle, bloodied silk,
Crumpled cans and muddied milk,
Petrol in the drainage ditch,
Swirled with blood of poor and rich
Ignorant in blasting death,
Of piety that stole their breath.
Seeing nothing, feeling less,
Wander through the filthy mess.
Wonder if the brilliant flash
Of flesh and flame and pain will pass
From memories of sons and wives,
From streets and markets and the lives
Of people in the ancient land
Who always knew the heavy hand
Of seething war and slashing hate,
And all surpassing fear of fate.