Remembering simpler times with Ma’am Tahira Qazi and Sir Saeed

Published: December 20, 2014
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If this tragedy doesn’t make us change our ways, I don’t think anything else ever will. PHOTO: MUHAMMAD IQBAL/EXPRESS

The Army Public School originally had a single branch on Mall Road Peshawar, near the PTV station. During the mid-1990s, two more branches opened up – one near the old Mall Road branch and the second where December 16th’s tragedy took place, on Warsak Road.

We used to call it the Army Public College, not school, because it was from the sixth grade onwards; so it was for the ‘big boys’, and it had become a degree-awarding college as well.

I started going to the ‘college’ in 1997. Sir Saeed was one of the first teachers I had. I was in the sixth grade; 6-B to be exact. He used to teach us Islamiat. Although fairly good at studies, I often did end up getting a fair bit of corporal punishment for one reason or another. My quota of beatings started with Sir Saeed’s slap. Being the first few days in the college, I was a bit shaken; I complained. Little did I know that the man had a heart of gold, he apologised and became a friend. I realised that he was an extremely decent, soft spoken and humble person.

Sir Saeed. Photo: Nauman Shah

Sir Nawab Ali became our Mathematics teacher when I moved to the ninth grade in 2000. I wasn’t really fond of him back then. He had a really hefty hand and he made us get our test scores signed by our dads if we had a score of less than five (out of 10). As luck would have it, I mostly scored a zero in his tests. He was a man of few words but a very dedicated and hardworking teacher.

But things were simpler back then. The only thing a kid had to worry about was a slap on the back or a zero on a Math test.

(From Left, in red circles) Sir Nawab Ali, Sir Saeed, Sir Zulfiqar, Ma’am Tahira Qazi, Ma’am Shahnaz. Photo: Nauman Shah

Ma’am Tahira Qazi wasn’t the principal when I was at the Army Public School. She used to teach English to undergraduate students, back in they year 2000 when the college started a Bachelors programme. An elegant and graceful woman, always speaking in perfect English, in a voice I still remember vividly, she reminded me of Shaista Zaid of PTV’s English news fame.

Tahira Qazi. Photo: File

These teachers are no more… in addition to many others whom I never had the fortune of knowing very well. Every one of them died or was grievously injured saving those children.

The school had a huge auditorium. It was our pride and joy and we boasted about it being the largest one in Peshawar, if not in Pakistan. We used to have a literary or dramatic event every Thursday in that auditorium.

However, on the 16th, the same place hosted a blood bath. On the 16th, that place which was a safe haven for us students turned into a slaughter house. On the 16th, we lost many brilliant teachers and bright students. On the 16th, every Peshawarite died a little inside.

If this tragedy doesn’t make us change our ways, I don’t think anything else ever will.

Nauman Shah

Nauman Shah

A former student of APS, worked in the corporate sector for about five years in Lahore, now in Germany; mostly backpacking and studying economics.

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

  • Malveros

    I can only weep in silence.Recommend

  • Muazzam Ali

    Nauman we are being played at the name of religion by internal and external hands
    its only army’s sincere efforts which is keeping QUID’s Pakistan alive and their own kids were colored red on or their uniforms with Pakistans most precious BLOOD …
    Rest in Peace …
    Hats off to the principle who despite of having chance to leave the school returned back to her babies …
    and the courageous teacher who were made to pay with flames of their bodies for their courage …

    Allah ho AkbarRecommend

  • Muazzam Ali

    Nauman we are being played at the name of religion by internal and external hands
    its only army’s sincere efforts which is keeping QUID’s Pakistan alive and their own kids were colored red on or their uniforms with Pakistans most precious BLOOD …
    Rest in Peace …
    Hats off to the principle who despite of having chance to leave the school returned back to her babies …
    and the courageous teacher who were made to pay with flames of their bodies for their courage …

    Allah ho AkbarRecommend

  • lala peshori

    Well said Nauman, we share your pain.Recommend

  • An indian

    What the hell kind of world do we live in,where school kids are killed & lady principals are set on fire ..As a child,I thought,we lived in a modern world with cutting edge technology,medical advances,human rights..Now as an adult,I can see (from riots & communal violence) that no matter how modern-we’re still a bunch of mindless barbarians,like our cavemen ancestors or pillaging,marauding armies from the dark ages. Humanity is not so humane.
    If this had happened to me,I don’t know how I’d have recovered from the shock of losing children to gunmen. Recommend

  • H__3

    Dear Nauman – Thank you for your simple yet so elaborately expressed thoughts.. I was in the first batch of this school.. we were shifted from Mall Road Branch to Warsak branch in 1994.. I was in 9th then and initially it was just two sections of 9th and 10th in this huge building! There weren’t any boundary walls even and yet no-one ever got worried. Boundary walls were only constructed after several months when many students started bunking on a regular basis :) Mrs. Qazi was my English teacher as well.. On copies she used to sign as T.Qazi and many of us started calling her T-Cozy :) Behind her back off-course. I couldnt recognise Mam Shanaz in the picture.. She was hardly 22-23 then..

    You close your eyes –
    and 10 years have gone by.

    You open your eyes-
    to change, growth, and new ways
    Yet many things are not changed –
    same stuff- different day.

    However, as time flies….
    our lives are lived.
    often measured by what we give.Recommend

  • Anam Batool

    not only Peshawarite died a little inside but every Pakistani is feeling this pain..Recommend

  • Taimur

    i did my matric (1994-96) and my Fsc (1996-98) from this college. Ms Qazi taught me English in 1st yesr and Ms. Shahnaz taught me computer science in 9th & 10th. I met both of them back in 2010. now its so sad to know that they are no more. whats ur name H-3? i also joined the college in 9th from APS cantt.Recommend

  • Taimur

    I remember sir nawab…..sir naeem was a terror back then.Recommend

  • Taimur

    whats ur name? i was there as well….Recommend

  • H__3

    husainRecommend