Aiman Khan has been gone for over seven months. The 20-year-old was among the students who were mercilessly killed by a band of militants who stormed into Army Public School on December 16, 2014.
Time is cruel to the survivors – it whizzes past, highlighting that it must move on regardless and then it slows down to make the absence even more prominent. There are moments when Aiman’s family is haunted by gut-wrenching recollections of his tragic demise.
Read: APS attack: In pursuit of justice, bereaved parents to head to Islamabad
Eid is one such occasion when the unpleasant circumstances surrounding his death revisit them, leaving a shadow of gloom and sorrow. Normally a time of joy and celebration, the holiday will serve as a painful reminder of what they have lost.
The ties that last
“I cannot forget the APS massacre ever,” Seema Ateeq, his mother, told The Express Tribune. “I lost my son in the tragedy,” she said.
“There are days when I feel my son’s presence around me and think he will come back home. Over the past few months, the scorching heat has not made me thirsty. It is only when I remember my son that I feel an unbearable thirst for a life that is lost.”
Read: Post APS attack: Stakeholders demand removal of hate material from schoolbooks
The tearful mother added, “I urge everyone to remember my son in their prayers this Eid.”
Father and son
Ateeq Akhtar, the deceased’s father, said the family will visit their native village in Marghuz, Swabi where Aiman was laid to rest.
“It’s difficult to imagine Eid without him,” he said.
As they struggle with their grief, Aiman’s family wonders why the government has not taken the culprits to task. “After the APS attack, the National Action Plan was introduced to take action against insurgents,” Akhtar explained. “However, the government failed to deliver what it promised.”
He said authorities have failed to take matters into their own hands and take the culprits to task.
Since you’ve been gone
Nadeem Khan, the deceased’s uncle, said,“My nephew used to bring the whole family together on Eid. He would always arrange get-togethers on the first day. Now, we will hold one in his native village to keep his memory alive.”
Nadeem said the family had stitched new clothes and bought a Peshawari chappal for Aiman to wear on Eid. “We will donate these to orphans,” he added.
For Aiman’s brother, Ahmad, the loss of a sibling is a double tragedy. “He wasn’t just my elder brother,” he said. “He was my best friend.”
Published in The Express Tribune, July 18th, 2015.
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