When Asra Nomani finished her speech she allowed offered a question and answer session. Angry members of the audience took this opportunity to voice their opposition against Asra and her mission. At first I was annoyed because of the rude nature of their questioning and then all at once I became very afraid. I remembered the distracted guard. I heard noises that indicated that the main entrance was not the only point of entry and perhaps someone could have slipped in the side door that would have terrible intentions. I tried to calm myself with the fact that I have an exceedingly active imagination and I was in no real danger. I just did not feel safe. My gaze darted around the room in paranoia as I tried to distinguish if anyone among the sea of faces would be the person that would intend to make good on their death threat against Asra Nomani.
I have wondered often what people are thinking of right before they are victim to violence or terrorism. Are they at peace? Do they have a sense of foreboding? With death as a certainty in each of our lives we may imagine what will lead to that event. Do the victims of an attack say “Oh, this is it. This is how I am meant to go.” Because I thought that. I wondered if Asra Nomani had thoughts of her own running through her head each time she led a discussion.
My professor was the host for the evening. He diplomatically wrapped up the Q&A session when he felt that it was appropriate. As people filed out and fished for their car keys with the intention to return to their lives I felt the apprehension lift from me.
The evening ended with the only harm being at the hands of my own imagination. I bought both of her books and stayed behind to have her sign my copy. She spoke to me as she signed my book. She asked me about myself and learned quickly that I had a son a year younger than her own.
She looked deep into my eyes and asked me what role I take to ensure that my son is not brought up to perpetuate gender inequality.