Ode to a tragedy


An unverified letter circulating on the Web which tells the hostage incident from the point of view of one of the victims.

Mr. Mendoza was already upset even before he saw on television what the policemen did to his brother. The other tourists who remained inside the bus were complaining. Wei Ji Jiang wanted to go to the bathroom.

The hostage taker, as you know him was really nice. He treated us okay and even let the elders and the children leave the bus. He said your policemen treated him unfairly. He was a policeman too and was accused of doing something he had no knowledge of. But your government didn’t listen so he used us to get everyone’s attention. Things would have never turned for the worst if he didn’t see how his family was dragged out of their house and taken into custody. He was watching the news all the time as we huddled around each other behind the bus. He shouted some words in your language then started shooting in the air.

A girl about my age started screaming. Mr. Mendoza demanded her to stop but she didn’t understand English. God, he had to slash her neck with a knife just to put her to rest. Her boyfriend who tried to hit him was shot in the head. Tension was rising. You can see in his face how scared and confused he was. The bus driver ran away leaving him alone with strangers from a distant land. I can see him walking across the aisle, sometimes pointing his machine gun to one of the tourists. But he tried his best not to hurt us, especially those who really cooperate. I guess its in your nature not to inflict pain on others unless it was necessary.

I remember him saying that he will free us before sundown and implored us to forget everything when we return home. But his words don’t matter now. The policemen were trying to force their way in, while we all lied down to shield ourselves from bullets. Mister Mendoza blindly shoots at his enemies which I think kept them from rescuing us. I hear sobs under the chairs. Some were even shouting the names of their loved ones even when the air merely eat their words. Kevin Tang tried to escape when the glass door was was shattered, but one shot and he slumped on the floor with blood gushing from his mouth.

Heavy rain pitter-pattered on the rooftop. In old Chinese saying, it means an end to a struggle. Finally, somebody was able to open the escape hatch at the back of the bus. Freedom. But I knew Mister Mendoza was still alive. I knew he was just waiting for a chance to strike back at his enemies. So I told those around me not to escape. Let the authorities come for us instead. Then there was gunfire. He was firing at his enemies with a machine gun. Those who were at the escape hatch fled abandoning us once again. It’s like a nightmare with no end and to wake up means a certain death. Then somebody from outside the bus threw a canister. It forced out a black smoke that is so painful to the eyes and putrid smelling to the nose. People started screaming. We cannot breathe. Some ran in front of the bus but Mister Mendoza warned them of stray bullets. It was too late. One was hit on the head, the other was hit on the shoulders. Bullets were now flying. Its like the authorities thought we were all dead.

Mister Mendoza finally admits his mistake and said sorry to everyone, dead or alive. He then ran towards the front of the bus where he would meet his maker. As he passed by my chair with bullets whistling overhead, I clutched my hand on the velvet curtain and wrapped it around my face.

All I could think of was to stay alive – for my child who is waiting for me back in Xinjang.

I know I will survive, I will come home.

Bang Lu Min Survivor, Quirino Bloodbath.

Whether this letter is real or not, it just made me cringe, I do not know what to make of it. Perhaps in due time we will all know why this tragedy had to happen. My condolences to all who lost their loved ones in this unfortunate incident.

Jesus replied, “You do not realise now what I am doing, but later you will understand.”
John 13:7

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