They killed my cousin. They killed a 9-year-old’s father.

Published: December 16, 2013

She told me that although she found my taste in fashion agreeable, she asked me to reach out for a purple jacket for her because the colour I had chosen would never suit her complexion. And then I knew, life would be okay.

She told me that although she found my taste in fashion agreeable, she asked me to reach out for a purple jacket for her because the colour I had chosen would never suit her complexion. And then I knew, life would be okay. My cousin was only 32-years-old - the father of two young daughters. PHOTO: FILE

If I were to believe any of the ‘feel-good, badly-designed’ inspirational quotes that go around cyberspace, I would tell myself that the best things somehow always are.

Feel good, badly designed, that is.

Why do I say this?

Can you imagine seeing someone with their brains splattered across the hospital bed?

You probably have not, but I have.

Trust me, at that point, you don’t know what to think.

You don’t think that it will be okay eventually. You don’t know whether to wail in grief or throw up.

That someone happened to be my cousin’s husband. He was only 32-years-old and was the father of two young daughters.

Well, at least they were young when it happened. Now, they are suddenly too old.

He was shot through the head. Killed for reasons that somehow fade to a pathetic whimper compared to his daughter’s dream of being a doctor and an actress at the same time when she is 20-years-old and living in New York. She is nine.

His wife and I grew up together and did everything possible to break the rules. We laughed when we managed to escape unscathed and laughed even harder every time we got caught. When she fell in love and decided to elope, she had the same mischievous gleam in her eyes.

It was another adventure that would cause both of us to bite our lips in the face of a disapproving family grimace – a grimace born out of words like ‘sect and ethnic differences’; words that are so hollow that they keep echoing in your ears.

Ten years later when I saw her husband’s wounds, all I could think of was the clean, starched sheets on the hospital bed. I wondered how long it would take to clean them back to that acidic white, peculiar to hospital sheets.

I had no recollection of ever laughing in my life.

The performance by throngs of relatives and ‘well-wishers’ – the whispered intrigues and the usual circus acts – took away any space that we may have had to grieve.

There was anger, followed by a numbness reserved for battles and incomprehension.

Then, my work place was attacked and I was left to wonder if I was in the middle of a nightmare.

I kept waiting for the proverbial straw that breaks your back. I was helping my cousin’s nine-year-old daughter get dressed at that time. As I pulled out a jacket for her, she looked at me with eyes that seemed suddenly sad and wise – the same eyes that had once shone with dreams of living in New York.

She told me that although she found my taste in fashion agreeable, she asked me to reach out for a purple jacket for her because the colour I had chosen would never suit her complexion.

And then I knew, life would be okay. Not today, not tomorrow. But eventually.

The best things in life are free, after all. They may not be easy but nothing worth having ever was.

Amna Iqbal

Amna Iqbal

Publications designer at The Express Tribune, she tweets @amna_iqb (

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

  • Confused

    I still couldn’t figure out why he was killed? is it because she eloped and somebody killed her husband?

    P.S: This is a serious qs, I am not being sarcastic.Recommend

  • Ghostrider

    A very sad topic but cant figure out how he got killedRecommend

  • Kharra Such

    No offense, I feel for your loss but this article lacks substance, I really do not know what happenedRecommend

  • Iftikhar Ali

    You’ve got skills to write full of suspense drama. WonderfulRecommend

  • aamawam

    I have no idea what you tried to say over here. Incoherence, lack of substance and focus is evident.Recommend

  • Ahmed

    Does it really matter *how* he got killed? Is it not enough to just imagine the plight of those very many affected in Pakistan?! No words, however can do justice to the loss experienced by the loved ones. I am very sorry for your loss. No wonder Pakistan is facing a brain-drain. Educated youth should focus on building their lives abroad where their families could be safer.Recommend

  • Waar 1

    Is this the monologue to Waar2 ? Sorry dear, as much as I want to sympathise with the victim, your article lacks substance called “sensitivity’ for such a sensitive topic.Recommend

  • Fizza Rizvi

    Quite an incomplete article my friend ….Recommend

  • sidjeen

    does it rally matter how he got killed. he may have been killed because of his sect, ethnicity, political views or because he loved a girl and married her, but does any of these reason justify his killing? it does not matter why he got killed the real question my fried is how are we gonna stop some other person from being killed again today, tomorrow or the day after for these stupid reasons.Recommend

  • Jamil

    I don’t know what is more out of place, your name or your comment? You watch too many movies? huh.Recommend

  • Pro Bono Publico

    Apart from exhibiting feelings in writing; the readers could not figure the reason and the incident that cost the precious lives of your friend`s loved one..
    Apart from all that- a very well write-up indeed!Recommend

  • Sher Zaman

    This is a typical express tribune article, almost every article that i have gone through lacks substance. These articles fail to state their objective as to why are they even written, the caption is really misleading. I am not surprised why people don’t really advertise on tribune, there is absolutely no content.Recommend

  • Parvez

    I read it twice because the first time around I got a feel of what you were trying to say but the second reading brought the full impact home……great stuff, especially the sensitive and wise way you ended it.Recommend

  • AllanFaqeer

    Congratulations on writing such an amazing article. You are very talented. I found it to be highly intriguing and i am completely engaged. However, I many a questions remain un-quenched, which if answered, would provide a great sense of closure for me. These as as following:

    1. what was the age of his other daughter?

    2. Did the said family live in New York or elsewhere?

    3. How did you see her husband’s wounds 10 years later? did they not bury him? or was it a photograph of the scattered brains?

    4. How does the murder of the girls’ father pathetically fade in comparison to the daughter’s dreams of becoming an actress doctor?

    5. Did the throngs of grieving relatives ever leave to give you space to grieve?

    6. If your friend’s parents’ words were hollow, why do they still keep echoing in your ears?

    7. was the attack on your workplace related to the attack on your friend’s husband?

    8. How does a 9 years old dream about living in New York? does she know the cost of living in New York?

    9. Why did the 9 year old buy and keep a jacket in her closet that does not suit her complexion?

    10. How does the 9 year old’s sense of fashion and your agreeable taste in fashion guarantee that the future will be okey?

    11. In the end, what was the great thing that you got for free?Recommend

  • Adil Bawany

    Doesn’t really matter how and why he got killed, the emphasis here is on the little girls, all three of them, who’ve hardly lived enough to commit wrong enough to deserve a fate like this.Recommend

  • Saniha Zara Qureshi

    Amna .. Eventually lives goes on but it will never be same.. We had great lost. May Allah gives family comfort. AmeenRecommend