180 million hearts broken… again

Published: December 16, 2014
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Hospital security guards carry a students injured in the shootout at a school under attacked by Taliban gunmen in Peshawar, Pakistan,Tuesday, December 16, 2014. PHOTO: REUTERS

Hospital security guards carry a students injured in the shootout at a school under attacked by Taliban gunmen in Peshawar, Pakistan,Tuesday, December 16, 2014. PHOTO: REUTERS A man carries an injured girl after the attack. PHOTO: AFP Relatives of an injured student comfort each other outside Lady Reading Hospital. PHOTO: REUTERS

Jallianwala. Dhaka. Quetta. North Waziristan. Peshawar. Places change but stories remain the same. That doesn’t make the heartbreak any more bearable. The unanswerable ‘why’ still looms over our heads.

Why this?

Why now?

Why us?

Today’s massacre in Peshawar reverberates throughout the country. I cannot even fathom what the parents of the children are going through but I write to tell them they are not alone, it is the least I can do.

It is the least I can do to at least try to reach a level of catharsis which will make me feel capable of ever feeling again, which will make me feel a shred of humanity, any sense that this remains a world I want to continue living in. A world shared by death and the bringers of death.

Do these people not have children of their own?

Maybe they had them once.

The sight of a baby’s clothes charred black hurt just as much, no matter what country, creed or religion the baby belongs to. I am sorry we brought you into a world of such terror; you deserved better. Maybe God agreed, which is why He took you away from us so soon. You deserved better.

We are a country of martyrs, we create them and we become them; the cycle of violence never stops. We celebrate the dead, we celebrate the murderers. Our celebration of unbridled joy at the top of the Ferris wheel pushes it into motion; soon we find ourselves at the bottom watching others celebrate the same. We do not get off the Ferris wheel; we simply look to get back on top.

We are told that we stand at a sensitive junction – the crossroads of time yet we see nothing at the turn. There is more darkness beyond darkness. There is no sun outside our Platonian cave; are we destined to always merely see the shadows?

Generation after generation inheriting a war till the point that nobody even remembers why we are fighting; we are bound to remember but we are also bound to forget. Peshawar will be a mere statistic in the years to come in the growing lists of massacres in the country. The families will remain forever affected, the population will move on. Oblivious how hypocritical any cries of ‘bomb their families’ are.

Faiz Ahmad Faiz asked how many rains it will take to wash the stains of blood in 1971, 43 years later we are still looking to wash the stains with more blood. Wondering why they are not going away. Will we never see the patch of green promised to millions? This is not what Pakistan was meant to be. We decry the broken promises, the shattered dreams but we fail to ask who hijacked them? Whose wars have we been engaged in for over 60 years? Why are we still fighting them?

All questions lead to more whys we might never know. We will die and the next generation will ask the same questions. There will be another Zarb-e-Azb, there will be another Peshawar. 180 million hearts will break again. A population will cry out again,

“Why?”

All we are left to do is to shed more tears, lose more children – the innocent always suffer the most. Our gardens continue to turn barren yet we continue to scorch more land.

The sound of a mother’s cry is louder than a bomb. Will we be remembered by images of the empty cradles, the unworn shoes and the sounds of soothing lullaby heard by no one?

An eye for an eye leaves the whole world blind but where does a child for a child leave the world? How many children will die before we realise that too many have died?

To adapt a quote by Friedrich Gustav Emil Martin Niemoller said during World War II,

“First they came for the Hindus, I was not a Hindu so I said nothing… then they came for the Bengalis, and I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a Begali… then they came for the Ahmadis, I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t an Ahmadi… then they came for the Hazaras, I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t Hazara… When they came for me, there was no one left to speak out.”

There are no words I have to express my sadness at what happened in Peshawar. I cannot even console myself let alone somebody else. All that comes to mind are words of Faiz Ahmad Faiz,

Aaj kay naam aur aaj kay gham kay naam,

Aaj kay naam kay hai zindagi ki bhaarien gulistan se khafa,

Zard patton ka ban

Zard patton ka ban jo mera desh hai

Dard ki anjuman jo mera desh hai

Un dukhi maon kay naam

(A toast for today and a toast for today’s grief,

A toast for today for the spring of life is displeased from its garden,

Yellow leaves in autumn,

Yellow leaves in autumn that is my nation,

Unbearable pain that is my nation

A toast to those sorrowful mothers)

shehzad.ghias

Shehzad Ghias

A graduate from the LUMS Law School and is running his own theatre production company, Cogito Productions.He works as a theatre teacher at various schools. He tweets @Shehzad89 (twitter.com/Shehzad89)

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