After last month’s attack by the Taliban on a school in Peshawar, Pakistan, Urban Echo’s Naz Shah asked the simple question… Why?
By Naz Shah
Having just returned from a candle lit vigil held for the 132 children who have been killed in Peshawar earlier this week, emotionally I feel numb.
Since the incident, all I have witnessed is an outpouring of grief and mass media coverage.
‘Terrorist’, ‘Taliban’, ‘Responsibility’, ‘Massacre’… words circling around me, verbally, written and even shouted. Raw emotions of anger and disbelief.
For me however, my first thoughts after digesting the news wasn’t the Taliban or the ‘war on terror’, it was flashbacks of Dunblane. When, on 13th March 1996, Thomas Hamilton killed sixteen children and one teacher at Dunblane Primary School near Stirling, Scotland. I recall those emotions like it was yesterday but today those emotions were magnified. Perhaps that was because now I am a mother myself.
In trying to make sense of what has happened, to understand why in the middle of the night when I woke up I looked at my children and struggled to sleep, my mind grappled with the mess it was in. I tried desperately to draw upon my years of experience as a Samaritan volunteer to emphasise with those parents but I couldn’t. How could I try to understand and make sense of something which is senseless? How could I go to the depth of emotion in trying to, in my own little way, show my support? I couldn’t, otherwise I could not cope.
I went back to the day when I travelled to 10 Downing St in protest of this year’s massacres in Palestine. A friend had come up with the idea of carrying ‘coffins’ of children to bring home the reality of what was happening. I recall how I struggled with just cardboard coffins with names of the children printed on them.
I know the world is united in this grief. Must we look for explanations? Can there ever be an explanation for the killing of innocents, for the massacre of children? No.
Those candles at the vigil this evening helped me, they helped me understand that the struggle is a global one – one for humanity as a whole. For the purpose of grieving, we need to allow ourselves to be angry, to be shocked and to let our minds struggle for no human can or will make sense of something which is senseless, so let’s not try, for now let’s just accept the atrocity as what it is… evil.
Regardless of any ideology of why, what, when, what could I say to a mother who has carried this child for nine months, nurtured her baby, jumped at every little step in case they hurt themselves, celebrated every birthday, every development from sitting to crawling, from walking and running, from those first shoes to those first school shoes. How could any thing I say possibly console that mother who had dreams and aspirations for her child, who bought that first uniform, who’s emotions knew no bounds on that first day of school, who never for a moment thought she would be at such a tender age be burying her child. What words do I send to comfort her? There are no words. I am lost for words to console her.