Khalida opened her eyes. The electricity of her injuries flooding through every fibre of her being, and hitting the pain receptors in her brain like a wrecking ball. She started throwing up mental blocks to get the hurricane of emotions and thoughts to abate, allowing her to strategize some sort of plan. First step, breathe, restore normality to her racing heart, slow the pulse and feed the much needed oxygen to her brain.
She sank back onto the concrete wall welcoming its coolness against her back. Her brains survival instincts tried to kick in. She ripped away the sleeves from her blouse, even now, after all she had been through, this one act seemed to spit in the face of all she was running from and even as she tied the tourniquet around her thigh she celebrated her victory. However short lived it had been, she had indeed won.
Never again would she allow someone to order her how to live her own life, no matter how many beatings or, as was the case now, how many gun shots were fired. She would die as she chosen to live free and independent. Her god was not the god who persecuted, ordered rapes and brutal attacks. Her god was a spirit of love, kindness, understanding and forgiveness. She never feared her god, she only feared the men and they were far removed from any status of deity.
She realised at that moment there was no surviving this. She would die here. Already she could feel the gentle welcoming arms of death. Like a rolodex her mind started flicking through the life she had been granted. It had been a life filled with love, learning. It had been a life she was proud of. The latter part was a blur of rage, pain and a showing of man's desire for power, as history always shows they start by showing their lack by attacking the weak. Her last thought before her spirit left was:
"I have lived such a wonderful life, stayed true to myself and will never wear that dress"
Then with pain arcing through every part of her body she removed a black heap of linen from her back pack, and with one flick of a match, set it on fire beside her. Khalida rejoiced at the flames as the burqa they had tried to make her wear died with her.