Zamina Bibi was in tears, constantly asking for help finding her son.
“My heart is constantly aching. The pain is unbearable and it doesn’t stop for even a single moment. Oh God! Please give me back my son!” she cried.
Zamina’s son, Akhtar Ali, 20, is among the people who have gone missing since the end of the military operation in Swat a couple of years back.
Ali, a tailor by profession, was the only source of livelihood for his family since his father’s passing. He went missing on May 31 from Sangota village in Swat Valley.
“The worst pain for a mother is to know her child is missing and not being able to do anything about it,” Zamina said, while sitting on the ground peering at the door, futilely waiting for her son to walk in.
Zamina, 65, also has three daughters. Ever since her son went missing, Zamina has been washing dishes and clothes at houses in the area, trying desperately to meet their daily requirements.
Barely able to run her household under the weight of inflation, the agony and constant fear of losing her son has also taken a hit on her health. “I cannot sleep for even a single moment. His memory keeps haunting me wherever I am,” she said with tears rolling down her eyes.
“It is suspected that Ali had drowned in the Swat River. However, his body was not recovered, and no one had seen him near the river on the day he went missing. Since he had left his National Identity Card home that day, it is possible that he may have been apprehended by the security forces,” said one of Ali’s neighbours, who requested anonymity.
“He was a simple person who wasn’t involved in any suspicious activities,” he added.
Ali’s family is constantly living in pain and anguish as they wait for him to come home.
“Our mother is concerned about nothing else. She doesn’t eat or drink anything. She keeps talking about him all the time. Our lives are becoming more and more miserable with each passing day,” said Ali’s younger sister Ishrat with tears in her eyes.
“My mother gets her hopes up when she sees a newspaper. She asks anyone around to read it, hoping there is some news of him being found. She keeps visiting hospitals to find out more about him, but comes back disappointed every time,” she revealed.
While the rest of the country is busy preparing to celebrate Eid with fervour and excitement, Ali’s family is anxiously waiting for his safe return. They have appealed to the chief justice of Pakistan, Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani, and the chief of army staff for help, hoping one of them will send Akhtar Ali walking through the door his mother keeps gazing at.
Published in The Express Tribune, August 30th, 2011.