Requiem for the dying souls

September 24, 2008

As TV cameras zoomed into the heap of debris of Marriot Hotel suicide blast, my thoughts took me back to the casualty of Lady Reading Hospital Peshawar, where victims of a suicide attack were being rushed for treatment some days back. As the ambulances ambulance carrying victims blast rushed in, waves of anxiety swept through the journalist corps present at the occasion; photographer’s cameras flashed, cameramen pushed one another to film a shot of the victim and reporters scribbled some words in their notebooks.

When the victims stopped to arrive at the hospital, a hush seized the journalists and they engaged in low tone exchanges. Victims’ families started to arrive at the hospital to know about the safety of their near and dear, usually weeping and crying in desperation and if they found someone of their kin soaked in blood and motionless, a strange feeling of helplessness engulfed them.

I came out of the hospital with a heavy heart. Way back to my office life in the city seemed as usual with the story to be filed on my mind. Afterwards, over a cup of tea some friends gathered and discussion turned towards the militancy, but it remained inconclusive till end and we dispersed with more questions than answers.

To quote Obaidullah Aleem:

“Who I have name for these recurring calamities

My cities are burning and people dying

None else in behind this deadly manoeuvring,

We are being killed, we are the killers.”

I had seen too much blood and gore scenes over a period of two years as a journalist covering the militancy, which has ravaged the NWFP and FATA. But most of the time the futility of violence left me gaping for breath and this feeling has dawned upon me with more force that what is the purpose of this killing and what the killers wanted to achieve.

I consider them actors in an absurdist theatre, when they say that the bloodshed in this country is against America, as how one of us could believe that killing their fellow humans could entitle them to the riches of Paradise. The people roaming around wrapping themselves in lethal explosives are to me reminiscent of the pig tailed child who heralded the end of Garcia Marquez’s city of mirrors.

The Kafkaesque manner of terrorism and the stoicism of the majority of our population often puzzles’ me as our society fiddles like Nero when the Rome was burning. The war was initially limited to Waziristan and most of us remained silent, then it spread to whole of FATA and parts of Frontier and we are still silent and one does not need to be Einstein to foresee what tomorrow has in store for us.

Faraz has put these aptly:

You keep on poking every heart with spears of bigotry.

We’re the people of love, why are you raising daggers.

Let music resonate in the city; let us live in the city.

We take care of flowers and guard fragrance

Whose blood you are here to spill, we only preach love,

What then you find in this city, when word ceases to exist.

When swords cut through gentle tanner, when lyrics leave for ever,

When melodies got killed and voices died down.

Whom you stone, when the city turns to ruins

Then this very sight of your face will haunt you in mirrors.”