Horror comes to life
You don’t expect such horror in real life. You don’t expect such barbarity from humans.
You don’t expect to send your children to school and never see them again.
But then you do. Because it happens. It happens to our people. Our children. Our teachers. Our schools.
An Army public school in Peshawar (Pakistan) gets run down by gunmen leaving more than a hundred children dead in cold blood and a few teachers.
You’d think these excerpts were from a movie, but this atrocity happened only a few hours ago.
Khan said he felt searing pain as he was shot in both his legs just below the knee. He decided to play dead, adding: “I folded my tie and pushed it into my mouth so that I wouldn’t scream. The man with big boots kept on looking for students and pumping bullets into their bodies. I lay as still as I could and closed my eyes, waiting to get shot again. My body was shivering. I saw death so close and I will never forget the black boots approaching me—I felt as though it was death that was approaching me.” Newsweek Pakistan
I was sitting in the corridor with 10 of my classmates when we heard firing. We immediately ran towards the classroom to hide there but the militants chased us down and found us. They were dressed in shalwar kameez and the only thing they told us is: ‘read the kalma’,” said Ali, remorsefully adding that he was the only one of his 10 friends that survived the attack. The Express Tribune
Raw Uncut Version of Life
It’s not about heartfelt condemnation and hysterical tears rolling down our cheeks as we try to make sense of this incident. Because how do you put such insanity into words? Do you dig up strong emotional verbage from your language, or make use of cuss words? Or write status updates and substitute sad emoticons on Facebook with those of tears pouring out? How do you express the lowest of lows?
It’s not even about narrowing down a believable reason for the brutality. Or getting into an endless political debate and accusations. Let’s assume the attackers lost their children in anti-terrorist attacks conducted by the Pakistani Army so this was their payback. Even then, does this level of vengeance add up? Does anyone win here?
It’s about a raw, uncut version of life that has been shoved in our faces. So we realize how inconsequential our existence is. It’s about the strength and ability to endure hell and then get back on your feet. Because that is exactly what parents of those martyred angels will do. They will survive. Even if that means with nothing but a shredded heart and blinding pain.
This is our Boko Haram, Ferguson, Columbine school massacre, Gaza, Apocalypse all in one. Because for us, nothing can get worse. Not the worst of natural travesties, famines or wars. This incident single-handedly shattered the thin line between what’s expected in ruthless terror attacks and what isn’t. Now there are no barriers or false reassurances like, ‘Oh they can’t possibly target children!’ And what comes next? Hospitals, weddings, parks, funerals? Pakistan’s flag has soaked in too much blood of too many innocent lives. And it shocks me to think how these blood stains might never wash away.
Lines crossed – Times forever changed
This day marks the beginning of changed ways in Pakistan. As a parent. As a student. As a teacher. There’s a lot that comes in that package now. Like a bad memory, this will become a permanent part of everyone’s minds. Parents will drop off children to school with tighter hugs and longer kisses on their foreheads. Teachers will zone out during a lecture and imagine a class pouring with blood or at best, train themselves to handle these attacks . Students will fall prey to paranoia and fear. With time the intensity will wear off, but the facts will remain.
What will I tell my children?
Years from now, if my children ask me about the 16th of December, 2014, what will I say? Will I say that their native country could not protect children who were just like them? Will I tell them I also studied in Pakistani Army public schools my entire life and those school years represented some of my most precious memories? Will I tell them it was all in the name of religion but it really wasn’t, because murder has no place in any religion? Will I tell them how life usually doesn’t make sense, especially when it comes to death? Will I tell them they need to be grateful every breathing minute of their lives because many children like them don’t live to see another day? Will I tell them that life goes on, no matter what?
Will I tell them that Pakistan survived, notwithstanding the END it witnessed that day and came out stronger and better? I hope to God that above all else, I tell them this.
Oh, Nida. Nothing can fill the airless shock of a turning point like this, so unwelcome and unjustified. Love to you and especially those in Pakistan, where even the Earth itself probably feels dangerous.
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Thank you for your kind words Sahara. But that’s the thing. This was one city. While the rest of Pakistan will be forced to get back to life. This one incident does not paint my country’s true colours, but it brings out a horrific red that overshadows everything else. We are all saddened beyond belief. Your prayers are needed. Thanks again.
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This is really saddening. I have no words to express the grief except prayers for everyone attacked and those affected by the attack. Even we here, in India, are shocked. We couldnt help you guys except with words.
I pray Allah grants the kids martyred with the loftiest Paradise and their parents and other kids with immense courage and strength. Aameen.
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Nida, I’m so sad that this has happened in your home country. Words seem insufficient. Love to you and the people of Pakistan.
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I cannot comprehend this, on any level. Yet these types of terrorists are pushing the boundaries of all of our psyches, forcing the surreal to be real. No one wants to be able to understand such madness but they are forcing it.
America has had her share of horrific school shootings and murders. You’ve done a commendable job of revealing the brutality and the dark side of humanity. It really is the unthinkable – and to THINK, it happens all over the world. Thanks, N.
Thank you so much D,:) hugs
We will tell the future generation that we have survived the madness, the tyrants, the corrupted social and political system, I may not live to see this, like many others but it will happen. It will happen, because our struggle won’t go unheard and wasted.
Hi Nida, I’m also Canadian, non-religious but not anti-religion, and found your blog this evening via link from an article on another site. I read your about page and a few articles and have a general feel about your beliefs and where you are coming from, my reaction is to say “Welcome to Canada, it’s a great country isn’t it!”. I was happy to read that you are not yet jaded about the evils of the world and not yet, and hopefully never become, insistant that one religion is better than others, it’s all about choice(and living peacefully with those choices), not control.
Anyway, I also appreciate reading your viewpoint about the Peshawar school shootings, I immediately felt sick to my core when I heard about it. Children are innocent and our future. I have a question: The world is currently experiencing wave after wave of terrorist activity, much of it centered around Islam in some way, but do you think there is a deeper was happening? By that I mean do you think the world is undergoing a “population Jihad” for lack of a better name? It would seem that it’s become part of the plan to increase Islamic population greatly and to keep them agitated so as to make radicalization easier later on. If this is the case then even Canada does not have policies that would stop an “initially peaceful but later on radical” takeover. Your thoughts?
My belief is that Muslims in Canada have a golden opportunity to influence the world in that peace and co-existance is possible and fantastic. I fear that if that voice is not found the current influence of hatred and terrorism will continue to spread, even here.