PESHAWAR: “We had planned a surprise for him, but he instead left us with scarred memories,” said Hassan Turyalay, Azaan Turyalay’s older sibling.
December 28 is the 15th birthday of ninth-grader Azaan who died in the APS attack 12 days ago. Birthday surprises are a revered tradition in the Turyalay household in Rahatabad. The family had already bought some of Azaan’s favourite watches and perfumes but the day never came when they could gift them to him.
Hassan told Express News that Azaan was an all-rounder when it came to studies and extra-curricular activities. He had been a position holder right from grade one and his room is full of trophies and awards. Azaan had not only served in the student council, but was also an accomplished sportsman.
Azaan’s father Major (retd) Sohailur Rehman said his boy had won the school badminton championship only three days prior to the horrific incident. The teary-eyed father recollected a school play from March 23 where Azaan played the role of an army captain who laid down his life while saving children. Rehman said his son dreamt of wearing military colours one day and sacrificing his life for the cause of the country. “Azaan re-enacted his play and attained martyrdom,” he added. Rehman said the militants may have broken his family’s back but their resolve is unshaken.
Azaan’s pet dog, Zeek too is well aware of the fate his master met.
Since the day it saw Azaan in a shroud, it has refused to eat and fell ill as a result.
His younger sister Aman Sohail was Azaan’s closest confidante. “He used to say a birthday is a waste without a cake and surprises,” said Aman while talking to Express News. She too had saved for weeks and bought a gift for her older brother whose determination she idolised. “He is in a better place for his 15th birthday,” she said. Herself a student of Army Public School, Aman added the militants have not scared them one bit and that they will return to school immediately once it is repaired.
“We had planned to switch the lights off on the eve of his birthday, light candles and then let Azaan cut the cake,” she said. The brazen act of militants instead left the whole country lighting candles for Azaan while the family weeps in despair.
Published in The Express Tribune, December 28th, 2014.