A mother's spirit of a martyred son

It’s been a year and still it makes me so tormented whenever occasionally I share a conversation with anybody about the deadly Army Public School (APS) massacre.

The fire of retaliation was maybe too furious that turned everything into ashes without realising that it could hurt innocent flower buds, succumbed to death and trampled them with bullets.

Pakistanis have suffered; witnessed and tormented before but the anguish that took place on 16th December, 2014 at Army Public School, Peshawar is incomparable to any of them.

It is not only the biggest misery or grief stricken incident; it is the horrific example of human cruelty that hurt every human being emotionally as well as psychologically. Hundreds of innocent children lost their lives; the nation cannot and will not forget this terror activity as it will go to haunt our future forever.

This December, I have been given a task to do a special transmission on the first anniversary of the infamous date in Pakistani history; 16 December. I was already uncomfortable in my researches and planning, whenever I go through clippings, videos and pictures of that day. It makes me heartbroken, silent and frustrated.

I had faced traumatized days and nights when this incident happened a year back and so this year this month and day is making me feel sick again.

My last task was to record those parents’ messages who lost their loved ones in the tragedy. I have been in utter confusion of how to talk to those parents. What would I ask them? Why is it necessary to call them out of nowhere after a year and start asking questions related to their life’s biggest tragedy?

After some time when I had no other options I had to call them and I asked simply if they can just speak to me. I was amazed after talking to them, their courage and their patience was so overwhelming which I cannot describe in any words.

One of the Students, Shaheed Mohammad Shaheer, was in grade eight at the Army Public School. I happened to talk to his mother, Shagufta Begum.

She told me she is the mother of four children; two sons and two daughters. One of them was Mohammad Shaheer who embraced martyrdom on 16th December, 2014.

Her other son, Mohammad Muneeb Khan, studies in 10th grade and was in the same auditorium that day, but managed to stay alive by playing dead hiding under the pile of dead bodies of his school mates while reciting Quranic verses and listening to footsteps of terrorists, sometimes sounds of reloading bullets in their guns.

She was sobbing and so I felt I should stop now, but she was a courageous lady. She felt that her family and she have some responsibilities to share for the country. She told me whatever she has been through. She was helplessly asking as if talking to those people, why would you do that? That’s not what Islam teaches us. Our religion teaches us to love, to make peace.

She also highlighted the root causes like lack of education. She said street children who don’t go to school, deprived of all basic necessities, are easy targets to be used by those monsters. They exploit them and accomplish their dirty motives through them.

“Awareness, security and providing education” she counted on tips and told me that these are the root causes. If we stay behind in those categories we can never counter such issues in our society.

In the end she said there is no relief for the heart of a mother, but “the mosque leader (Imam) comes to our house to counsel us.  It helps to ease our pain and whenever I feel broken and miss my son, I recite the Holy Quran which helps me continue my life for my family for my other children.”

When I put my recorder down, I felt so heavy and disturbed but at the same time I wanted to salute this mother and other parents who have suffered a similar loss

This is a message for everyone that we as Pakistanis, as a nation might be broken for many things but those scars make us stronger and brought us back to life with a stronger spirit. The need of the time is just to fill craters like education, better living and security which are basic rights of every citizen in any country

Tolerance and optimism is the only way to combat terrorism as the new ISPR song suggests, Mujhay Dushman Ke Bachon Ko Parhana Hai (I have to educate the enemy’s children), is the greatest revenge.

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