The night we were robbed: Give us your gold or we’ll take your daughter

Published: October 27, 2013

I knew that I would never feel safe again, not even in my own home. I looked around to see that they had ripped everything apart. PHOTO: AFP

The night was dark and gloomy, much like my life has been since the incident. Ever since it happened, I feel like I’m drowning every second, gasping for air as I feel my body becoming heavier. I seem to exist as a mere hollow body bereft of its soul.

It was 4:00 am when the door of my room opened and someone switched on the light and pulled the blanket off me. Through bleary eyes, I saw my father standing by my bed. It was only when he gently told me to get up quietly and not make a sound that I rubbed my eyes and saw the other figures standing around him. There were five men, wearing shalwar kameez with their faces wrapped in cloth. Still in a haze, I thought,

“No, this can’t be happening; not today, not to my family.”

I slowly got up from the bed and they walked me to my siblings’ room, where both my siblings, along with my mother sat together on the bed. I rushed over to them, scared as I’ve never been in my life.

In a deep voice one of the faceless men, threatened my mother,

“You give us the gold or we’ll take this daughter of yours.”

I felt as if someone had drained the very life out of me. I could feel numbness setting in my extremities; I wanted to comfort my mother but my voice was not in my control any more.

The man, sensing my fear, brought his face close to mine and said,

“You tell your mother to give us everything or you know what we are capable of.”

They sat my father down on the floor. He looked as if he had aged 10 years in that one night and I just couldn’t bear to look at his drained, helpless face. My heart broke watching him suffer quietly. Huddled together, we could hear them rummaging through our valuables, breaking things, stealing whatever they could get their hands on.

A man entered the room then, his dark, beady eyes the only thing visible on his masked face. There seemed to be an aura of authority around him and I realised then that he was the leader of the gang. He walked towards my mother with a deliberate gait, bent down and said in a sinister tone,

“We have been patient so far. Give us the gold now and no one will get hurt.”

Even though her eyes belied her fear, my mother replied to him calmly,

“‘We have given you all that we have.”

Her sentence was cut off by a hard slap on her face by the dark-eyed man, who then said in a louder voice,

“The woman won’t give in, take away the daughter.”

Although I could hear what they were saying, I just couldn’t register it, until one of the men took my arm and started dragging me towards the door. I pleaded and cried for them to let me go; and the room suddenly erupted in noise. My siblings were crying in fear, while my parents begged the men to have mercy.

It was at that point that a voice inside me said that they wouldn’t leave without me. I knew that I wouldn’t survive the ordeal and I turned around to my mother and said in a hushed voice,

“You kill me but don’t let them take me, do you hear me Ammi? Just don’t let them take me, please.”

My mother helplessly replied,

“Nothing’s going to happen Areej. Allah (SWT) is with us, don’t ever lose faith.”

I then turned towards my siblings who were literally trembling in fear and said,

“Darlings, I know that I don’t tell you often enough how much I love you; if anything happens to me, I just want you to know that I love you both very much.”

Two of the other men then came up behind me and told me to keep my mouth shut and not to make another sound. Just when I thought that the nightmare would never end, the gang leader returned to the room. The mere sight of him was enough to make my blood run cold with fear. He said,

“Don’t make a sound, don’t call any one; and if you inform the police, there will be consequences.”

He then motioned to the others and they all left the room. After 10-15 minutes, we realised that we could hear nothing but silence. There were no voices to be heard, no sound of rushed footsteps; all we could hear were the birds chirping on the windowsill.

It was then that I slowly mustered up the courage to get up and open the door of the room to look outside. An empty hallway awaited me – they were gone, they had actually left. I sank to my knees thanking God for sparing me from a terrible fate and for keeping my family safe.

My family had begun to walk out of the room slowly and we all hugged each other in relief. I sat down quietly in a corner and waited for the happiness to spread in every inch of me but it never did.  It was then that I realised that it never would; that I would never feel safe again, not even in my own home. I looked around me to see that they had ripped everything apart and left behind only remains of our home.

I wouldn’t wish such a day even for my enemy; a day when you are made to feel insecure in your own home. May God save everyone from such a day.

All details are from a real life incident, which occurred on March 16, 2013.

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Areej Fatima Naqvi

Areej Fatima Naqvi

A student of Media Studies at CBM, she enjoys reading, writing and meeting new people. She tweets as @AreejNaqvi (twitter.com/AreejNaqvi)

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.

  • Saleem

    May Allah bless you and your family and keep them under His shelter.Recommend

  • Noman Ansari

    I am so sorry this happened to you. Five years ago my aunt’s house near hill park was robbed in broad daylight by five men. There were five girls in the house and three women. Thankfully, they weren’t threatened with sexual assault. One robber said, ‘Tum dero nahi’ before handing one of my little cousins a dupatta. This was in between moments of threatening everyone with guns and violence! I feel like even criminals are becoming more animal in nature now.

    Anyway, I think you should seek a grief councillor immediately. A therapist can certainly help you process feelings that are going to be popping up. Trust me, you will feel much better after a traumatic experience.

    Best of luck. Your blog really shook me.

    Recommend

  • ADNAN RAUF

    so tragic. where it happened? Karachi.May Allah keep us safe. AmeenRecommend

  • Areej Naqvi

    Ameen. Thank youRecommend

  • Iqra Ghufran

    May Allah keep us all safe. Ameen.Recommend

  • Sajjad Ali

    Am really shocked this happened to you :( May Allah bless you and your family.Recommend

  • Areej Naqvi

    No humanity at all, yes one does come across such incidents quite often now. Thank You NomanRecommend

  • Misha

    Well expressed. Anything coming from the heart is a masterpiece. May Allah watch over you and your family.Recommend

  • aamir

    Well recovering from an incident depends on person to person, now in
    this case by nature your personality is emotional and bonding with your
    parents is strong that is why you still not recovered.

    1. at that
    moment your father not done anything because they want your family
    remain safe and its wise decision because if other side is strong then
    you should never try anything because they are desperate and ready for
    any worst situation.

    2. Give some time to Namaz and have faith in Allah, daily recite Ayatul-kursi leave to Allah and give Sadka.

    3. Remember in whole world all other things can heal except Life, so keeping this in mind try to forget that scary scenes.

    4.Lastly ALLAH knows everything hidden and open and he promised for justice who have no power to reply for injustice.Recommend

  • Nabeel

    Exactly the same incident happened to me and my family more than 4 years ago during our visit to Pakistan for my brother’s Nikkah. Only that non of us were threatened during the process.
    Thinking about that night still gives me goosebumps and I thank Allah for keeping keep my family safe that night.
    I totally understand what you & your family must be going through. May Allah give you people the strength & courage to overcome this phase.Recommend

  • Arooj Ahmed

    The nightmare is over now. Take a deep breath and look forward to a peaceful life. :)Recommend

  • Alam

    Sorry to here this. My friend who is a police officer tells me most of these gangs are Pashtuns.Recommend

  • GhostRider

    What happened with you is something horrible and I guess time wont even heal the pain as in you were harrased in the most worse manner.
    I can totally relate to your ordeal….2 years back my father woke me up at around 3 in the night and there were 4 huge guys in the room with guns pointed at me. later they blackmailed my parents with my life by loading the gun to my head….but I consider myself among the lucky ones that those guys were caught and I also got the chance to beat them up a little.Recommend

  • Areej Naqvi

    Extremely true and yes i suppose the bonding has increased since then. Thank you aamir.Recommend

  • Areej Naqvi

    AmeenRecommend

  • Areej Naqvi

    Ameen.Recommend

  • Manish Rohera

    Even I had cold feet just reading your story can’t even imagine what you must be feeling at that time, hope you forget this Incident May God Bless you and wish it never happens with anyone else in their lifeRecommend

  • http://www.captainjohann.blogspot.com/ captainjohann samuhanand

    God keep you safe and thank Allah for the mercy he has shown.Recommend

  • jin

    uhh bet this was Karachi. What is wrong with that city and its people anyways its giving a bad name to Pakistan. Just cut off that damn city from Pakistan and peace will be back in no time in Pakistan.Recommend

  • khurram

    This an oft repeated scene, and it is a result of unchecked, unnatural, unregulated migration of illetrate unskilled poor people in our city. With their beasty manners they also bring the animal within them to hound the lives of the tax payers who provide them with drinking water and food for their kids.Recommend

  • raji

    where is the copy of FIR, where is copy of police report, atlease a news paper cutting about robbery report..
    These days people write anything to get famous..Recommend

  • Parvez

    When a criminal knows that he has protection or when the criminal is himself the law enforcer and governance dies, then a state of anarchy comes into being…….and incidents like this happen. Our politicians, our leaders have not only failed us but they have betrayed us.
    I can only guess as to the trauma you and your family went through, but for what its worth I am sorry but frustrated that I am unable to do anything except raise my voice every chance I get.Recommend

  • gp65

    I am sorry to hear what happened to you. In your own home too. Please get some professional help. Your feelings of insecurity and fearfulness ae totally legitimate and there is no shame i seeking help to overcome them and reclaim your life.

    Stay safe.Recommend

  • Ali Zaidi

    I pray that you and your family be under the protection of the Ahl-BaitRecommend

  • Tab

    After a shocking and traumatic event like this, the whole family should seek a grief councilor immediately. May Allah keep everyone safe.Recommend

  • Sane

    This is not a piece of literature. An incident narrated.Recommend

  • Mir Taqi

    Really sad to hear what you and your family went through. May Almighty protect us all from such terrible things. May God Bless You. Will pray that He grants you peace of mind.Recommend

  • Ansari

    This is the life in Karachi :( :(Recommend

  • pakone

    Sickening is the only word that comes to mind. That feeling of complete helplessness your father must have felt can not even be imagined. Unfortunately, poverty and lack of a proper justice system breeds these kind of monsters. 5 armed men enter a house in the middle of the night, all one can do is pray, and not resist. The only thing you can do is give them what they ask for (material that is). Or keep two vicious guard dogs- they at least cause a ruckus when someone enters the gate!Recommend

  • sarah

    very well written almost made me cry…I pray that pakistan’s security conditions increase and the frustrations are removed from our society. May Allah bless all our daughters and keep them safe always IARecommend

  • Ch. Allah Daad

    Very sad story but thanks God you and your family is safe.Recommend

  • Ali Tahir

    Things have worsened drastically over the last few years… There was a time when robbers used to tell women to go in a separate room while they did their looting.. Recently in my Area a married woman was killed after she resisted rape during a robbery.. Thankfully the robber was recently nabbed and killed in an ‘encounter’Recommend

  • Reader

    I was traumatized by a similar incident about 12-13 years ago, that event which lasted for a couple hours is still as clear as yesterday in my head. I remember how I flipped my dinner plate that night as my entire body was trembling due to that shock, I was a small boy back then.

    I would just say to you to be strong. And keep praying Allah for his mercy and forgiveness as he is surely the most merciful and loving.

    And for the rest of the readers, people this happens every where in the world and not just Karachi <_<Recommend

  • Bob

    Of course Police will be investigating as usual with no results. Usually,when these looters are asking for gold, there is an inside information. I think you better change your servants, install surveillance cameras, hire a guard i.e. if you plan to continue staying in Pakistan.Recommend

  • NITS from New Delhi

    It could have happened anywhere spl. around asia where criminals do no fear police authorities… u have been really lucky to survive with god blessings.. more courage to the entire family to forget this episode and be united!Recommend

  • Usman Masood

    We got robbed once, and Thank GOD we were not in the house at that time!!!

    Get a security system installed, the electric wires may give a lot of false alarms at times, but add cameras to the mix and you can always check whether it was a false alarm or not while still safe inside your house!

    Stay Safe!!!Recommend

  • Ali

    This is so traumatizing. My sister’s house in defence was robbed by 8 men. They held her entire family including her in laws & children hostage and took away everything even the car. The impact of that incident still haunts her. I can feel your pain and pray that Allah SWT gives you the strength to come out of this very soon.Recommend

  • Faisal

    Dear Areej, you are a strong girl, your reaction is normal and any other normal person would have behave the same way, only that you are stronger and brave that you are sharing your experience with all. I salute you and am confident that you will shrug off the fear left upon you by some jerks.Recommend

  • mansoor

    I am totally shocked to hear this and would like to convey my deep sympathies..Thanks to Allah that none of u guys were hurt. I have been hearing similar stories recently and its extremely alarming to see the absolute audacity and increasing frequency with which such acts are being committed.
    Would u mind telling me in which area of Karachi did the incident take place and at what time? Also how did they manage to intrude the house? did they cut the grill or unlock the doors?
    I am only asking this because some others may be able to benefit from your ordeal and may be able to take precautions that could save them from a similar fate. Its becoming very difficult to live in Karachi with crime spreading in all directions and no rule of law in sight. May Allah keep us all safe and punish such criminal elements..Recommend

  • mhammad ovais khan

    so horrific to read really its a incubus no one want to come across i don’t know how you now have settle down yourself your experience reminds of the case of Elizabeth Smart who was abducted by an old man the ordeal she went through may god save us all from such experienceRecommend

  • Miqdad Naqvi

    It reminds me the bad incident of same nature happened last year with me and my family,,, Horrible when my all family including my one year old daughter was on their mercy….. But they left after looting the valuables from other rooms like the same way u mentioned :(Recommend

  • JayMankind

    Can’t believe these things happen in this day and age ! Where were the neighbors or the law enforcement authorities?Recommend

  • http://solomon2.blogspot.com/ Solomon2

    “You give us the gold or we’ll take this daughter of yours.”

    Do these thieves pray at mosque? When they recite Hayya’alal falah, Allahu Akbar do they congratulate themselves that they succeeded in their latest criminal endeavor and conclude they are favored by Allah?Recommend

  • Humza

    That’s why we don’t don’t want to visit Karachi but prefer to visit cities in Punjab where things are relatively safe.Recommend

  • Californian Desi

    A seriously heart aching story. I pray that you or your beloved never have to go though such an ordeal again.
    I have been through such an ordeal on 26/11 in Mumbai. But my feeling changed form fear to utmost disgust and anger over those 10 kids from your country who were brainwashed by people worst then ones who robbed you.
    For you Pakistanis it is our daily runt about handing over Hafiz Saeed. For us who helplessly comment here is the only unfortunate and civilized way to express our anger.Recommend

  • ab

    we were robbed once but thankfully we were not in the house.Recommend

  • Sarah B. Haider

    My house didn’t get robbed, thank heavens. However, two men have snatched my cell phone at gun point. From that day on wards, I see EVERY two men on a motorbike with utter suspicion. This is the sorry state of this city these days. Karachi is the new Columbia or Harlem!Recommend

  • Dont Choose to be Afraid

    Wow. I can only imagine what you have been through. A shock like this can stay with you for a lifetime. Maybe you should talk to a therapist. It really might be very helpful. Most people think that going to a therapist means you have a serious mental problem, i hope you are not one of those people. It might really help. Being a woman, I can relate to you, its terrifying how in a single moment you can be robbed of your self confidence. Be happy. Happiness is always a choice. You are as happy as you decide to be. May Allah keep you under His protection. AmeenRecommend

  • Ali

    Allah bless your family now i think karachities are habitual to see/listen this type of criminal act around us before eid-ul-azha my family faced the same. :(Recommend

  • Waqas

    I feel gooze bombs after reading your blog.May ALLAH protect you and your family and all of us.Recommend

  • Areej Naqvi

    why exactly would one post the copy of an FIR?Do you really believe all the robbery reports are reported in newspapers?Recommend

  • ahmad

    AREEJ SAHIBA …Do give SADQA as Allah has saved all of you from these BARBARIANS.Allah bless you all and protect all of us from evil forces like these………Recommend

  • O.KHAN

    You are right. For me, all these therapies etc just waste of time as long as you pray and have strong faith on Allah and it’s my personal experience.Recommend

  • O.KHAN

    After hearing such stories I would say that there should be strong Islamic punishments for all criminals otherwise this will be going on forever.Recommend