Where should I begin from ? Let’s start from the beginning.
December 16, 2014.
144 people were brutally murdered by terrorists. Out of these 132 were kids between the ages of 8 and 18. They were kids. Kids barely in there teens enjoying life. Kids not even old enough to understand what was happening around them. And yet they were gunned down like cattle.
They were victims of a revenge against the army for the commendable job they were doing of eradicating terrorism from the country.
While I stayed safe and sound in my home continents apart, kids died. I could not have felt more helpless. I felt weak and ashamed. For the first time I felt ashamed to be an expat, to have lived outside my country for so long.
Those of you who still go to that school despite the tragedy and horror that was inflicted upon you, I salute you. You are my hero. You are our hero. You are Pakistan’s hero. Malala Yousafzai is not a hero. You the ones who still go there to get an education, you who sit on the chairs that once your friends sat on, you whose life and feelings no one can ever understand, you are my hero.
I am proud of you. Your country is proud of you. Just the fact that you study in those hallways, sit in the cafeteria where an year ago you saw your friend being shot, respect and love your country is a huge thing. It’s something that I don’t think that I would ever be able to do.
I am sorry. I am so sorry Pakistan, to have lived away from you for so long. I am so sorry that I was not there for you, that I could not do anything. I am so sorry. I don’t deserve to be called a Pakistani because I abandoned you. I abandoned my people. I chose to live in the comfort and safety of other countries while you, my homeland suffered.
What should I say about the parents who lost their kids ? Nothing I say can make a difference. Because reality is that they will never be the same. No matter what I say, I cannot undo what was done. You are amongst the “Sabireen”. I can never understand how you felt on that day and how you feel everyday. But I salute your strength. The fact that you get up everyday and still go about daily life, I salute you for that.
Our country is standing because of people like you. Because of people who sacrificed their lives that day to save others. Because of little kids who became a human shield for their friends in front of those vicious animals. Because of the kids who bear the scars of that tragedy, not only on their bodies but in their hearts as well. Our country stands because of all of you. Our country exists because of you. We are alive because of you.
I did not know a single one of those who were murdered. But they were my people. My brothers. My sons. My friends. Every time I see a reminder of this incident, I burst into tears. Because there is nothing else I can do. All I can do and have done is pray for them.
You are always in my thoughts, in my prayers and in my heart.