The children of Abbas Town have become too familiar with the thundering sound of bomb blasts and the black smoke that envelops the area afterwards.
So when Hamza Ahmed, 14, who was watching a match between South Africa and Pakistan on Sunday evening, heard the sound of the explosion and saw the water tank falling down from his balcony, he knew what it was.
“The sound I heard was similar to the Muharram blast. Only it was more deafening,” he said, recalling how he ran barefoot, his left feet slashed by glass shards on the stairs.
Ahmed was alone at his D-205 apartment in Iqra City at the time of the blast – his family had gone to a doctor. As he showed around the house that was in a mess except for the two green sofas, his teary-eyed mother Naureen voiced her worse fear. “If he had been injured, there would have been no one to pick him up. Those attackers didn’t even care that there were children in every home.” Hamza talks less now, and often sees glimpses of what he saw that night. “I don’t think I will be able to forget it,” he said with a straight face.
Another young resident, Ali Mazhar, 14, was doing his homework when the bomb ripped apart the place. He came outside to see the buildings crumbling, people shouting, and chunks of body flesh sticking to the PMT. “The Muharram blast was horrible but this is worse. I am scared. I want to move from here, but Papa can’t find a place.”
Since the incident, a number of children living in the two affected residential apartments, Rabia Flower and Iqra City, have stopped going to school, some missing out on their final exams. A seventh grade student, Maleeka Haider, who had a science paper on Monday and an English one on Tuesday, could not attend school. “All my books have been destroyed by the blast. How will I give my papers,” she said sadly.
For other children, who would play every evening in the compound of the apartments, means an end to their activities. “We would play hide and seek or race down the front gate,” said a nine-year-old Masooma. “But now the buildings are so weak that we can’t play anymore.”
There are three girls talking in front of the debris who are sure that it was the Taliban behind the deadly attack. “Obviously it is the Taliban, no one is as cold-hearted like them,” said an 11-year-old Maha, with a duppatta covering her head.
Meanwhile, Fatima was worried that there will be another blast. “I don’t want to die. But every time I step out, I keep thinking that there will be another blast.” The girls said that they want more police in the area so that they have security. “If these criminals are not stopped, then our people will start taking revenge.”
Published in The Express Tribune, March 5th, 2013.