A black day

Peshawar. December 16th 2014.

More than 130 children dead.

How will we ever forget this tragedy?

Or maybe it will pass… maybe it will be forgotten, just like all the others.

I’m trying to recall the most recent ones, but they seem to have slowly abandoned my memory. I vaguely remember the Wagah Border attack that killed more than 60 cheerful and patriotic Pakistanis. Maybe I remember it because it only happened last month. We cry, we discuss and we move on. Such is the pretense of our minds.

But not today. Not this time. I will not forget the way you mercilessly slaughtered innocent children; children whose eyes were full of dreams and who knew no war. I will not forget the way you ripped their half-grown bodies apart with bullets. I will not forget the way you transformed their lighthearted whispers into frightful screams. Classrooms and corridors that should have been filled with the noise of happy children were instead covered in blood and flesh. Bodies of our children were piled on top of each other: some in lying position, some still crouched. Most of the children took multiple bullets; many were shot directly in the head. I cannot describe the sadness anger (or a mix of both) that I feel when I see images of bags, books, shoes and broken pairs of glasses scattered in the school auditorium, where students from 8th, 9th and 10th grades had gathered a little while ago, just like anywhere else in the world. This is the same auditorium where they were either shot or bombed, and their bodies ruthlessly thrown outside the school boundary, one-by-one.

Many of those who have lived to tell their story are being asked to repeatedly recount the trauma of losing their closest friends right before their eyes. They are being asked to describe the bloodshed and bodies they witnessed. Some even witnessed the live burning of their teacher. Unbelievably insensitive media associates listen and report, and even dare to ask, “Beta, how do you feel about the incident?” Stop. Provide them with psychological assistance; don’t make them relive hell for the sake of your channel’s ratings.

For those who are behind this attack, you know no humanity. You are not human, let alone Muslim. You are not even an animal. You are a different creature: one that’s made out of pure evil. I don’t know what paradise you’re in search of, but I am sure you will rot in the worst form of hell. I hope for a similar fate for those who still refuse to condemn terrorist groups, or believe, even slightly, in negotiating with these monsters.

The fear on every parent’s mind today is that this could happen to anyone, regardless of what city you live in, or what school your child goes to. Attack after attack, we remain more vulnerable than ever. But, how much more? How much longer? How many more young souls do we have to sacrifice to this senselessness? How many more bright futures will we cut short?

I hope we make a conscious effort to keep this tragedy in our mind and to really bring change. It’s time that our authorities do something instead of wasting our valuable resources on their own recreation. The sacrifices of those children and their parents should not go in vain. We’ve had enough. It’s time to unite and say NO to terrorism.

As the motto of the ill-fated school goes, “I will rise and shine”.