Peshawar

10572375_10152628510025664_123573342_oI’ve taken to writing short notes for important days in my family’s life. Yesterday was my sister’s birthday; a sister with whom my relationship is quite indescribable. We’re yin and yang. She’s crazy to my calm; I’m the unorganized to her methodical. We’ve gone from the reluctantly formed duo of cool, grown-up and annoying sidekick, to partners in crime. Yesterday, I wanted to write for her, but I couldn’t. For how does one celebrate the gift of having a wonderful something in your own life, while others have lost their most important in a gruesome tragedy? I’m certain my sister will forgive the note that wasn’t on her thirty-fifth while I wish a most futile hope for strength to those who’ve lost children who’ll never celebrate giddy milestones like birthdays.

I have been disarmed, rendered speechless by the horror of Peshawar. To make sense of murder is difficult in most circumstances, but to understand the hatred that could cause a mass-scale massacre of this kind is, in my opinion, impossible. Who threw down the gauntlet first, who reacted next, where did it all go so horribly wrong, when did it become so heartless?

I’ve studied in Army Schools my whole life. When I read the first alert on the siege, my heart sank because I thought it was in a school here, in India. The relief of realizing it wasn’t was fleeting; it was  still a school, full of kids just like I had been, sitting under cement and mortar roofs, possibly passing clandestine notes to each other while a history teacher droned on, or staring out the window waiting for lunch break and a quick game of tag. To have the echoes of laughing, squabbling children’s voices in long, dingy corridors replaced by shrieks of fear, pain and incomprehension is sickening. It makes the lump rise in my throat; it makes my heart race in anger.

I’m not sure what I hope for in the wake of this cataclysm. Peace? Calm? Accord? They sound so trite, these words that seem to mean naught. I suppose I write this note as one defeated. I hope I don’t stay this way for long. I hope no one ever has to see a tragedy of this scale ever again. I hope…

© Ayesha Sindhu 2014

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