“Are you listening? Mom is dead!” a boy yelled on the phone. He had been looking for his mother at the Lady Reading Hospital. When he found her body, he called home. His hands were trembling and he got the number right after several attempts.
Only a few cities in the world have seen as much grief as Peshawar. But how much can a city collectively endure?
I was woken up by a phone call too on Sunday morning. “There are a hundred and twenty people lying in a pool of blood in the Kohati church,” the person on the phone said. “Please ask the photographer to go to the hospital”.
Before I rushed to the Lady Reading Hospital (LRH), I turned on the television, only to see my former classmate, from the missionary school I studied at, weeping. His shirt was stained with blood.
At the hospital, I saw chaos. The injured were yelling in pain, nurses and doctors jostling to cope with the increasing victims, the bodies on the floor. The humid air reeked with blood. Mobile phones wouldn’t stop ringing.
After a few minutes, there was no space left on the floor to place more bodies.
“Papa and Mama are injured. We are close to the emergency unit,” said another woman, her voice trembling.
“They won’t let us live, I swear, they won’t let us live in this country,” cried an elderly man, his voice echoing. Perhaps, everyone shared his sentiments.
Many people told me their loved ones died in their arms. Others said it was worst nightmare.
Peshawar is described as resilient. But when does resilient become an epithet?
Published in The Express Tribune, September 23rd, 2013.