There seems to be a great deal of skepticism and cynicism among members of some older generations in Pakistan regarding vigils and shows of protests, especially by the youth. They question what difference does it make, what point is there to it to such a ‘superficial’’ western’ cultural import?
What happened in Peshawar is a monstrosity beyond evil, a calamity beyond tragedy. It has rattled us to the very core and shook our souls. Grasped by grief and suffocated by helplessness, it now seems difficult to breathe.
In times of unbearable grief mocked by helplessness; of screaming anger silenced in the wails of mourning – coming together is sometimes the only way to help restore some semblance of power to us, in a land and time where it is bloodily usurped through guns and bombs tearing through our bodies, lives, souls and spirits.
Coming together in the form of a vigil or protest is not just a gathering. It is much more.
It is an effort, no matter how inconsequential, to express solidarity and support; to be counted and to be heard; to mark the persistence of resilience. It is a clamour amid attempts to be silenced.
The candles we light are not just in remembrance of the lost, but also in sight and light of hope. Hope, letting go of which is too much of a risk for us to take since that is all we have.
Some tragedies are difficult to erase from national memories. The deliberate, cold-blooded murder of helpless, defenseless, innocent little children will always remain, neither a wound for that heals, nor a stain that fades, but a scar in Pakistan’s memory. It will remain forever.
Therefore, let us not imbue Pakistan with further negativity by criticizing acts and gestures that express our collective sorrow and grief, our support and solidarity, our resolve and resistance. To collect the smithereens of our sanity and sense, our strength, our hopes and humanity from the shards of grief and barbarity.
In the grasp of grief and the suffocation of helplessness, maybe this is the only catharsis we have.
That we are in this together. That in throbbing with pain, we still throb with life.
Rest in peace, flowers of Peshawar.
~ Hafsa Khawaja