12th January 2015, a day in Peshawar that felt as cold as the North Pole but was warmed in an instance by the high spirits of Peshawarities. This day was about to mark the resilience and determination of the people of Peshawar and so held great importance for us; the residents. The children of Army Public School Boys, Warsak Road Peshawar were coming back to the school after a month of that heinous attack that shook our entire nation to the core.
Since the day of this attack, people have been questioning the resilience of the people of Peshawar. This city has been in the line of fire since a few years, and has been one of the worst hit cities after the infamous 9/11 attacks. Social scientists and health workers have been surprised at the way this city bounces back, they have called these people dead, sensitized to trauma, unconcerned with the pain, and it hurt every time to hear this, because making claims from miles apart and being here, experiencing is a very different story. I am glad to be a part of this important day to be witness to the strength of my people.
The day was marked by presumptions but I was relieved to see the turn out at the school. The parents and children came in as the time of the assembly approached, they came in a way that showed that they owned the place, they owned the casualties, the injured, and the incident. They owned it all, they knew it was their grief and they knew that they have to rise above it.
The green uniform shone bright in the cold day and carried the message of strength with it. I kept on looking at them and couldn’t help but think that people of Peshawar are a miracle for they are made to fall again and again but they rise even higher than before. Their strength is in their resilience, in their will to not bow down.
Today I saw the bereaved mothers, who have lost their sons, smiling and I saw the mothers, who had their children safe in front of them, crying their hearts out. And when I asked them how was this happening, their answers made me think on how are they at peace with themselves. The bereaved mothers said that we smile because even though we have lost a child, we have so many safe in front of us, these are all our children; the crying mothers said we cry for the loss of these mothers. I felt at a loss of words for we don’t see this display of emotion too often and look at these people, they own each other’s loss and pain, I don’t know exactly how highly admirable this is but I know that we are not a dead nation, we are not a lost nation, and we have not been sensitized to trauma.
We hurt and we feel, and we go past all that is bleak;
We ache and we scorn, and this is how we mourn;
We smile and we own, and this is how we Pashtoons are known!!!