KARACHI: Words some Pushtu fill the air in a semi-private hospital ward as children move from one room to another, visiting their friends, as if a small part of Peshawar has come to Karachi.
These are some of the survivors of the Peshawar school attack, currently being treated at a private hospital in Karachi. "Twenty-two children as well as two male and two female teachers have been brought to Karachi for treatment and more are expected to arrive," says Zahiruddin Babar, vice-president of the Shuhada and Ghazi Forum.
Class-eight student Anas Idrees was in the Army Public School auditorium for the mandatory first-aid lecture when the terrorists barged in and opened fire, shooting him in the arm. One of eight survivors in his class, Idrees is eager to go back to school, as do the other children in the ward.
Sitting on his hospital bed, he is startled by a Facebook video being played by fourth grader Muhammad Naffay, with whom he shares a room. "My heart started pounding when I heard the gunshots in the video," Anas explains.
Ten-year-old Naffay recalls that it was the fourth period when the firing started. When his classmates started running, he fell. He had to hide under a desk until the army arrived to rescue them. "My head still hurts at night," he says, turning around to show the mark on the back of his head.
Mehran Khan, another eighth grader, remembers the faces of the men who opened fire. Resting a hand with faint burn marks from a bullet wound on the bed, he gestures to his eyes. "The third bullet passed here - I was wearing glasses and they flew up in the air," he says. "They saw me opening the door, so they shot at me." Mehran had missed his school van that morning. "I would have been at home right now if I hadn't asked my friends to stop the van for me," he shares. On the bed next to Mehran's, Mubasher Subhan of class nine is in higher spirits. Holding up his left arm to show a bullet mark and his twisted fingers, he says that he went to school for four days after it reopened but his injuries made it impossible for him to continue.
Irfan Khan of class eight plays on a phone to distract himself from the pain caused by a surgery to remove a bullet from his body. "These children should have been treated earlier," says his uncle Dr Shah Saud. "They would have been healed by now if the government hadn't been so lazy."
Published in The Express Tribune, February 24th, 2015.
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