In response to Word High July the snippet below is inspired by the Filipino word ‘silakbo’ or ‘emotional outburst’. It’s part of a series charting the impact of the discovery of intelligent life in space on five ordinary people over the course of a month. Enjoy!
Image taken from Buzzfeed: “36 Of The Most Beautiful Words In The Philippine Language”. All credits goes to them.
The chime of the message alert on Maliha’s phone woke her from deep sleep. She blinked; her hands fumbled clumsily for the device and it took a minute to remember that she’d left it charging on the vanity. Biting back the kind of curse her parents were never allowed to know she used, she rolled out of her bed and followed the light from the screen.
She unplugged the device and after a few misplaced stabs managed to silence it. She sat back on the bed and flicked to her inbox. The message inside was from a co-worker and Maliha felt a wave of sickness as she read it.
“Office has been destroyed, looks like arson. Police here now. Call Ramin when you get this message.”
Hot anger welled in Maliha’s chest, her breath caught in her throat and she tasted bile. It took two mis-dials before she stopped shaking long enough to type Ramin’s number.
“Maliha? Are you safe?” Ramin asked. His voice sounded gruff and raw in the darkness and Maliha felt her fury expand in a tingling wave up through her head and down to her fingertips and toes, hot and righteous.
“Yes, yes of course; I’m at my grandmother’s,” the words left Maliha’s mouth in a rushed tumble the she couldn’t restrain. “What happened? Rehana’s message said it might be arson? Was anyone hurt?”
“I-” Ramin’s voice broke and a dry sob echoed from the phone. “I don’t think anyone was hurt, but everything we had here is ashes! I think it was my fault, I pushed all those articles about that poor blogger and about the signal and now it’s all gone!”
“Ok, it’s ok, we have back-ups of all our data and no one was hurt,” Maliha said. “You know this is nothing to do with you and everything to do with greedy people. You know that Ramin, we always knew something like this could happen. And it’s awful but it won’t be the end. We keep publishing even if we have to do it from my grandmother’s house!”
There was a long silence and Maliha was a breath away from asking if Ramin was still on the line when he spoke again, voice still raw and weary but also stronger.
“You’re right, of course you are. I-I’ll get in touch with everyone, spread the word. We aren’t over, we won’t be over until acts like this are stopped,” he replied. “Stay near your phone, we might need your grandmother’s house if my contacts don’t work out.”
“I will, good luck.”
Ramin hung up without responding and Maliha collapsed back onto her bed. Her anger was hotter than ever and that would be good for the days to come.