I am still young enough to vividly recall how, when I started toddling around, fewer years ago than I can count on the fingers of my tiny right hand, Dad would get down on the floor –on my level- and play with me. Like all little girls, I was in love with my father and didn’t want to lose him. I wish I could have clung on to him as he was taken away from me. But I couldn’t and he took my childhood with him.
It was a cold day as the chilly wind played with the innocence on my little brother’s angelic face. If I recall correctly, it was a weekend and I woke up happy for not having to go to school. I threw open the door of our home and jumped out to run down the street, rolling over and over, laughing all the way. With no strangers around me, I felt so safe and free to play. Then I saw my father leaving for the market to buy something. I still feel the warmth of his final hug as he kissed me on his way to the market.
Then came the moment, which has changed my life forever. Even though I could feel my babyhood being slowly snatched away from me as my little mind started to grapple with the reality that the people around us were being slain because they were something –as my mother would explain to me- called Shia. However, Dad meant good times for me, when in his presence the bliss of childhood would dispel all my fears. Now those memories of security and play are gone and it would never be all right again.
The death of my father announced the murder of my innocence. The rest will be a journey that I will struggle to walk somehow. My mother said that they found a skull and parts of a body still clad in the remnants of clothes my father was wearing. We were not allowed to look and all we are left with is the memory of my father’s handsome face. He was like a rock – strong and true. I was his first born, Daddy’s little girl – the centre of his world.
Dad, you were my star, now I will love you from afar. I hope, one day I will see you again and you would tell me why you had to be killed for being a Shia. What is a Shia? Is it the same as death?
Dad, we will never be entirely without you as a part of you will live on in my brother and me. I will also pray that I don’t lose my brother if he too should turn out to be someone called Shia like you.
Dad, we all love you and miss you so much. Sleep well. And oh yes! Please be brave and strong, as ever, to take care of all the little kids who were killed with you for they were feared to one day grow up as Shias.
So long, Daddy dearest
Here are shown some of the kids who died in a bomb attack in Quetta by the attackers who spare no mercy. Many of them died with their baby teeth. Though they were not yet old enough to have a religion, they were killed for being born into a wrong one. Hence, their parents do not deserve to see them open another present again. How, in the last moments for these kids, the pupils open wide in their terrified eyes must have tried to see the monster. A monster that was not a part of the bedtime stories they were told. Their faces haunt me with their screaming. My mind bleeds painfully as the memories of a peaceful and caring Pakistan flash before my eyes, mingling with the shadows of the darkness foretold by these angelic faces. Darkness that even foulest of creatures, except man, wouldn’t imagine. Tears find path down my cheeks as I wonder how life and love have gone cold in Pakistan and faith gets hotter and hotter. Hate sprouts forth from untold depths. People seek to slay so blindly, totally unburdened by the thoughts of age, gender, or innocence.