I lost my father in a terrorist attack

Published: March 4, 2015
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The writer is a peace activist and a law graduate from Khyber Law College, Peshawar

The writer is a peace activist and a law graduate from Khyber Law College, Peshawar

February 13, 2015 was like any other ordinary Friday. My father had left for Friday prayers at the Imamia Masjid, my mother was busy in the kitchen, while I was sitting in my room with my younger sister. My elder sister came in and asked me to make an appointment for our mother with the ophthalmologist. So I took my phone, left the room and dialled the ophthalmologist’s number, but it was engaged. I tried calling on the number a few more times before giving up. Returning to my room I found it to be empty and for some unexplainable, mysterious reason, my heart suddenly began to beat abnormally fast. I immediately ran upstairs loudly chanting, “Allah khair, Allah khair!”

Upstairs a horrendous sight met my eyes: everyone was running and screaming in panic. I had to shout and ask what the matter was and all I heard were the words: “Terrorists have attacked the mosque.” And that was the first time I died. As my mother and sister left for the mosque, I ran barefoot after them towards the car, crying and begging them to take me along too.

On the way, my mother told me to call my cousin who had rung up his mother while he was at the mosque during the attack to let her know of the tragedy that was unfolding. But panic had overtaken me and my shivering hands were unable to make any calls. Those moments haunt me all the time now.

After many panicked attempts, we finally managed to connect to one of our cousins, who had been at the mosque. All my mother could hear him say amid tears rolling down her cheeks was “Khyber Teaching Hospital”. Words that still haunt me and chill me to the bones.

At the hospital, we ran helplessly from one emergency room to the next, trying to look for our family members, asking the staff about blast casualties. I literally felt as if there was no ground under my feet. After looking for our father everywhere in the hospital and not finding him, we assumed he might have been taken to the Hayatabad Medical Complex instead since that was closer to the blast site. But just as we were about to leave, I heard my sister’s anguished cry: “Baba!”

I ran towards my father screaming, crying. He was lying on a stretcher, conscious, his face turned away from us. I patted him on the cheeks and turned his face towards myself, asking him if he was all right. He smiled and replied in the affirmative. It was then that his stretcher was wheeled away from us towards the emergency room with the hospital staff trying to comfort me, telling me not to cry and that my Baba was all right.

The fact that my father was able to talk to us and tell us that he was all right comforted us to some extent. But the sight of my beloved Baba lying injured and helpless on a stretcher was mind-numbing. I don’t remember how and when he was moved to the operation theatre.

All through this ordeal, I couldn’t stop shivering or praying. I was restless and kept on running back and forth. One of the staff, seeing my restless state, left his chair and asked me to sit there and not to worry. But how could I just sit as if nothing had happened? How could I? I could hear snippets of the conversation that was taking place among the doctors and the mention of words like “critical” was piercing my heart. Unable to bear this, I ran towards the doctors like some aged, infirm woman with no life in my legs and asked if my father was well. The doctor, seeing that I was possibly about to faint, comforted me with a big smile, patted me on the shoulder and said that they were all taking care of my father and that he was fine.

After a while, surgeons came out of the operation theatre and told us that he was doing well. He had been operated upon and that there was nothing to worry about. It was only then that I finally sat down, relieved, and thanked God. We were asked to get some clothes for our father as those he was wearing were all splattered with blood. I rushed home to get his clothes and smiled at my crying younger sister and told her that Baba was all right. I never realised this was the last time I would smile.

Upon returning to the hospital, I saw the operation theatre packed with my relatives. By this time we had already received the shock of my cousins DSP Naveed Abbas Bangash and Farhan Ali Bangash embracing martyrdom in the terror attack, which had only added to our heartbreak and agony. Now as I entered the operation theatre, I heard my sister asking our brother settled abroad to reach home by the first available flight in a fading voice. Hearing this, I completely lost the use of all my senses. I could not hear, I could not see. I was lost.

My innocent father, Muhammad Ishaq Bangash, remained on the ventilator for five days. No one can imagine how many times I died in those five days. I died every moment I looked at Baba, fighting for his life in the ICU. I did not sleep a single night fearing for my dearest Baba’s life. The last night he was alive, I was with him in the ICU, not knowing that these were the last moments I was sharing with him. I talked to him all night, trying to tell him his daughter was with him, trying to get him to talk to me: “Are you listening Baba? Please talk to me Baba. The barbarians have crossed all limits Baba.”

And my tears blinded me.

We miss you Baba with every breath.

Published in The Express Tribune, March  4th,  2015.

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Reader Comments (53)

  • Sri
    Mar 4, 2015 - 2:24AM

    Tragic indeed. Poignant narrative – may you find the strength to get over this tragedy.Recommend

  • ap
    Mar 4, 2015 - 2:25AM

    I am so sorry.Recommend

  • Batman
    Mar 4, 2015 - 2:52AM

    Very sad to hear about your loss. I can imagine the exact feeling you been talking about seeing one of your parent in hospital and that moments of horror of the person you love the most slipping out of your hand no matter how hard you try not to. This incident will haunt you for rest of your life. But i wish that it doesnt. Perhaps when we would turn the corner against these monsters you could be proud of your father who got martyred for his bravery. He went for prayers despite knowing the risks. You will miss your farther like anything but dont let this incident dent your mind otherwise it would be a victory for those monsters. My mother died of disease which came rapidly and thrown us all off. Perhaps thats what death is about. You may feel he died prematurely but trust me death have its ways and your dad died as martyr. We will win this war iA and your dad would always be the soldier who died without uniform. In moment of darkness faith is the only light. Just remember. Night is darkest just before the dawn. And the dawn is coming. You and your family deserve to be happy. And if you can learn to miss your father and at the same time move on in your lives in happy ways ..That would be our victory.Recommend

  • Sid
    Mar 4, 2015 - 3:23AM

    @Asma Bangash: I am sure Baba is in a better place and in good care of almighty. And truly wish that this monster of terrorism is eradicated from this sub-continent. Khuda Hafiz.Recommend

  • Sandip
    Mar 4, 2015 - 3:26AM

    I am lost for words. Woe to the terrorists who shed such innocent blood. I hope people who finance and use terrorists for their games read the lady’s words. But we can expect such animals to simply shrug and put such pain down into the column of collateral damage.Recommend

  • Mj
    Mar 4, 2015 - 4:32AM

    My deepest condolences over your loss. I hope the people responsible would soon be brought to justice. Recommend

  • Dr. Syed Shajee Husain
    Mar 4, 2015 - 6:10AM

    Dear Asma, I can feel whatever you have gone through, your father was on vent for few days, In same kind of incident I lost son like nephew who was shot twice in head by extremist in Karachi, eventually it was me who had to sign the consent to take off the vent and see him departing from this world to Heavens…May all those martyrs have the highest place in Heavens..AmeenRecommend

  • Ayesha khan
    Mar 4, 2015 - 6:15AM

    Very moving and tragic story- how this cancer of terrorism impacts innocent lives is just beyond anybody’s comprehension – people in power are butting heads with terrorists but who is actually paying the price, people like you and me- we don’t know when will this menace ever stop but at least we can spread the word around about the impact by sharing stories in main stream media-kudos to you that you shared your story in a very heartfelt way- May you and your family have the patience to go through life with courage and beautiful memories of your father-Recommend

  • Pakistani
    Mar 4, 2015 - 7:43AM

    Inna lillahi wa inna ilayhi raji’un

    Very sad to hear about your loss. Recommend

  • pk
    Mar 4, 2015 - 8:33AM

    I still remember 2008 German Bakery bombing in Pune, I was there in Pune for some work. Although I was not there at blast site. It was first incidence in Pune, but vigilance and strong law & order made it last incidence. Some times I wonder how come Pakistanis are so indifferent to daily bombings. I don’t see any mass movement against terrorism. As if they have accepted it as daily norm. It’s so chilling. Recommend

  • Pakistani
    Mar 4, 2015 - 8:42AM

    Very very sorry for your loss. May your father rest in peace.

    I think we should stop having separate mosques for shias and sunnis.

    We should just have one mosque for all.Recommend

  • TooTrue
    Mar 4, 2015 - 8:44AM

    What a tragic story. It touched even my hardened and callous heart. Makes you want to pick up a gun and kill every bearded menace in sight.Recommend

  • Jameel ur Rasheed
    Mar 4, 2015 - 8:58AM

    I am sorry. Just no words for comments!Recommend

  • M Musa Khan Khattak
    Mar 4, 2015 - 9:56AM

    Deeply grieved on your Baabaa’s loss and many others in the same tragic mosque attack in Hayat Abad Peshawar. Among the martyrs was also Naveed Abbass a friend, a colleague and a thorough professional – May Allah the Almighty bless us all because of these blessed martyrs” amen” Recommend

  • Canny
    Mar 4, 2015 - 10:08AM

    Dear Asma,

    Dont worry, Ali and Hussain will take care of your Baba.Recommend

  • Ahmed
    Mar 4, 2015 - 11:05AM

    I myself died a million times while reading this article hoping all along that ur Baba will survive.Recommend

  • Feroz
    Mar 4, 2015 - 12:42PM

    My sincere condolences on this irreplaceable loss. Sad that the disastrous policies followed by the nation has through collateral damage taken one more innocent life. When are the sleeping citizens going to wake up and ask for accountability from policy makers, remains to be seen. Apathy has its limits.Recommend

  • imran
    Mar 4, 2015 - 12:45PM

    Very sad to read it. Recommend

  • Kafir
    Mar 4, 2015 - 12:53PM

    I am sorry about your loss, may his soul rest in peace. May God gives you and your family strength and patience.Recommend

  • Libra
    Mar 4, 2015 - 1:34PM

    @pk:
    No we are not dummies or accustomed to these killing. We are watching very carefully and fighting. We have also identified the real enemy, the Indians.Recommend

  • raw is war
    Mar 4, 2015 - 1:38PM

    very sad. My condolences.Recommend

  • Yusuf
    Mar 4, 2015 - 2:02PM

    Many condolences to your and yours.
    Know that your cousins and Father, whomever they were in this life, will be Kings in the next.
    May they forever rest in the shade of the Ahl-e-Bayt. Recommend

  • JSM
    Mar 4, 2015 - 2:49PM

    I join you and your family in your sorrow.Recommend

  • Sara
    Mar 4, 2015 - 3:13PM

    Sorry to hear about your loss Asma! May Allah bless your father and give patience to you and your family. Ameen. Recommend

  • UR
    Mar 4, 2015 - 3:47PM

    Heartbreaking stuff! So sorry for your loss!Recommend

  • Yolo
    Mar 4, 2015 - 3:49PM

    Extremely heartbreaking. Very very sorry for your loss. May his soul rest in peace InshAllah, may he get a high rank in Jannah. Prayers for you and your family in these trying times.Recommend

  • Ibnemasood
    Mar 4, 2015 - 3:53PM

    Inna lillahi wa inna elaihi rajeoon…May his soul rest in peace. May Allah swt give you guys sabr on this tragic loss. May Allah swt save Pakistan from terrorism and chaos. Ameen !Recommend

  • Mehreen
    Mar 4, 2015 - 4:34PM

    May your father rest in peace and may Allah give you the strength to bear this loss.
    May the perpetrators of this act pay the price in this world as well as in the hereafter, i pray they feel the same pain as you are feeling now. Ameen.Recommend

  • Mar 4, 2015 - 5:07PM

    Words are not enough Words will not heal the pain and sorrow that you must have
    felt. And are still feeling. They are but a small solace. Only time will heal.
    May God grant you the fortitude and the perseverance to bear your unimaginable
    loss and pain.Recommend

  • JSM
    Mar 4, 2015 - 7:05PM

    @Libra:
    Will you please talk sense? We Indians gain nothing by killing innocents and do not tell me about Gujarat. Persons like you are responsible for this vitiated atmosphere. I may not like you but what gives me the authority to kill you?
    Moderator- request you to publish it.Recommend

  • erum
    Mar 4, 2015 - 7:09PM

    This really made me cry i pray for ypur father may his soul reat in peace recite surahs for his soul thats all you can do to confort him in qabar. Recommend

  • Iqbal Munir
    Mar 4, 2015 - 7:10PM

    Asma

    I am sorry for what happened. I really felt the pain while going through the column.
    You should be strong enough for the others in family.
    May He be Blessed with all eternal peace and rest.

    May Allah give the strength to your mother and family to cope with this loss.
    It is irreparable though.
    Both of my father and mother are not any more with me and i know how it feels without these pillars in one’s life.

    Any way be strong and supportive for yourself and the family.

    IqbalRecommend

  • nana
    Mar 4, 2015 - 7:32PM

    “Are you listening Baba? Please talk to me Baba. The barbarians have crossed all limits Baba.”

    World has been divided among your barbarians vs our barbarians. We have told the little kids false stories of some distant golden age. Babar was running from Muslims and came to India and his descendants were not beyond killing fathers and brothers along with others – it looks like we all suffer from delusions thinking that there was some “golden age.” There was none! Bacha Khan was imploring Congress for not throwing them to rabid dogs and agree to partition.

    Express please publish it. I also have wet eyes after reading eyes, but common Pakistanis need to wake up – corruption of Nawaz and Zardari is mere a pimple but creating rabid barbarian dogs to bite Afghans and Indians and grabbing 60% of revenue in the name of defense is real culprit.Recommend

  • zahid q
    Mar 4, 2015 - 8:09PM

    i cannot even begin to understand what you’re going through right now, but I would like to offer my prayers and deepest condolences to you and your family.Recommend

  • zahid q
    Mar 4, 2015 - 8:17PM

    i cannot even begin to understand what you’re going through right now, but i would like to offer my deepest condolences to you and your family.May his soul rest in peace and he get highest rank in jannah. AmeenRecommend

  • I am a Khan
    Mar 4, 2015 - 9:22PM

    Very very sad to read this. May Allah give your family the strength and may Allah severely punish the terrorists.Recommend

  • Allah_Rukha
    Mar 4, 2015 - 9:27PM

    You know Asma! Your words here have represented millions of bereaved family members who have lost their loved ones.

    Shia, Ahmadi, Hindu, Chrisitan, members of military and police, they all have suffered the same dreadful fate and their relatives the same pain.

    What have our politicians and judiciary done? Nothing, nothing and nothing. Recommend

  • Farhan
    Mar 4, 2015 - 9:59PM

    May Allah Bless Uncle Highest level of Heaven…Tears in My Eyes!!!!!!Recommend

  • Zakir Khan
    Mar 4, 2015 - 10:49PM

    Very sad to read this. I feel your pain and anguish. May God grant you and your family solace and strength to bear this pain.

    We as Pakistanis need to take stock of whats going on in our country. We are peaceful people but the people who commit this barbarity should be taught a lesson. The people who commit this atrocity should also have to pay a social price. The deeds of one evil person does not end with the punishment of that person. For atrocities like these that can cause calamity on such large scale, the kin and family of such people who are breeding these monsters should be ostracized and cast out from the society. Some really harsh decisions need to be made for the future of PakistanRecommend

  • Mar 4, 2015 - 10:53PM

    @Libra:

    Don’t know whether to laugh or cry at your ironic statement. We clearly haven’t honestly identified the extremists amongst us and really are this dumb and in denial to have let it continued for so long terrorizing and traumatizing everyone. Recommend

  • soothla
    Mar 4, 2015 - 11:33PM

    We are sorry for your loss.
    We share this with you.
    “Dad… as a child, I had a million ways to annoy you. As a teenager, I had a million reasons to defy you. As an adult, I had a million opportunities to make you proud. I did all that but I missed out on the most important – a million chances to say I love you while you were alive. I miss you Dad.”

    God BlessRecommend

  • Vikram
    Mar 4, 2015 - 11:56PM

    Your father was killed in the name of Islam. Muslims need to understand what is the “purpose of religion”.

    I see more problems for Shias and Sunnis. Please don’t let your leaders (political or religious) use religion to create hate and slaughters.Recommend

  • Jalal Ali
    Mar 5, 2015 - 1:04AM

    I can imagine your pain and agony Asma for it could’ve been me writing this article. My father was also there but he was lucky to survive. May his soul rest in peace #EndterrorismRecommend

  • RHS
    Mar 5, 2015 - 1:39AM

    Words escape me at the moment young lady. Thanks for sharing your pain with us.Recommend

  • Hassan Bangash
    Mar 5, 2015 - 1:45AM

    Hi Asma,

    I remember meeting your father a few times as a child in Kohat ..I faintly remember his smile…..

    I can relate to you…since my father, Kazim Ali Bangash, passed away as well in this attack. Its a void which I honestly dont know how to fill, I feel it will be a part of me for life. All i can do now is live my life in a way that if Aboo is watching, he can smile and be happy about it. My humble suggestion is try doing the same….make your father proud…be strong for him…he would have wanted that.

    Prayers for you and the family.

    Take care,
    HassanRecommend

  • angry citizen
    Mar 5, 2015 - 9:35AM

    i can feel your pain in every word. My eyes filled with tears and heart is broken. Recommend

  • Hardliner
    Mar 5, 2015 - 9:59AM

    I’m at a loss of words here…… the most i can utter is that I’m very very sorry for your loss…..Recommend

  • shahnaz
    Mar 5, 2015 - 11:21AM

    me too lost my dearest father in a suicide bomb blast and i can understand your feelings.Recommend

  • Mar 5, 2015 - 11:25AM

    me too lost my dearest father in a suicide bomb blast.and i can understand your feelings. I’m very very sorry for your loss… Recommend

  • mohsin Iqbal vohra
    Mar 5, 2015 - 2:43PM

    May Allah grant your father highest rank in Jannah, such a big loss , May allah give you and your family a sabr.Recommend

  • Haya Adeel
    Mar 5, 2015 - 4:03PM

    No words for your loss.. can feel the deepest sorrow.. still.. don’t forget that
    Allah is with u.. stay strong for your family… together we can defeat the evil.. Recommend

  • Abdul Wahab Lashari
    Mar 5, 2015 - 4:33PM

    Your father is our hero, May Allah shower his blessings on you people and may he get his place in Firdos ul jannat.Recommend

  • Syed Ali Riz Khan
    Mar 8, 2015 - 10:57AM

    May God give you the strength and patience to bear this irreparable loss. May your father be in the heavens and may all those who lost their lives in the Imambargah find a place in the heavens. Stay strong; become the best lawyer ever and make him proud.
    As far as the terrorist attack is concerned, we need not mention who carried it and who are the aiders and abettors of these vile barbaric Takfiri terrorists- that has already been highlighted before. But what really disappoints is the selective empathy shown by the rest of the countrymen when Shia killings occur; seems they become overcome by slumber when Shia Genocide is a common occurrence. Unless the security establishment does not distance itself from its terrorist proxies, we will keep experiencing the pains and horrific incidents which have become so rampant.
    Proud Shia Afghan!Recommend

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