Written By: Wajeeha A.
As a citizen of Peshawar, and a student of APS, I feel 'directly affected' by the 16 December incident. Here’s my story.
Tuesday, 16th December, 2015, 11:15 pm:
The bell marked the end of our chemistry period. Thank God. It was now our recess, to be followed by the games period. No studies for an hour, we couldn't wait to get out of the class. As we stepped outside the class, we suddenly saw teachers emerging from all the corners of the school, signaling us to get back in. We didn't know why, but there was a whisper.. There had been firing in the Boys branch, and a teacher's son had been killed. I remember how I shocked I felt. I couldn't bring myself to terms with the fact that someone's son had been murdered in his own school. Everyone was rather calm. We thought there had been a firing incident and that was it, it was all good now. Nobody gave us any details. Some girls were even laughing, enjoying at that time. I, knowing what losing a loved one is like, felt terrible about the death of a young boy. Then our math teacher came. She tried her best to distract us, by teaching us. And while some of us were still in shock, others were demanding to be let out as it was supposed to be our games period. She left when the bell rang. I was standing in the doorway of my classroom with a friend when I saw a house captain running towards me. She said to ask my class to get their bags and form a line. That was when some of the girls, whose brothers were studying in the Boys College, started panicking.
We were all in a line with our class teacher. We asked her to tell is what was happening. That was when we realised how serious it was. She said terrorists had entered the College, in uniforms, and started firing. For our sake, or maybe she herself didn't know, she said that just 33 students were injured. That was when many of the girls started crying. My best friend too, as her 7th-grader brother was there. I tried to comfort her, teary-eyed myself. She asked a teacher to call her father. Her father said that her brother had run away from the sschool, to his grandmother's house. We were then moved near the gate. Parents were coming to pick their children. As a house captain, I was with the teachers, calling names & trying to search for the girls whose families had come to pick them. Around 1 pm, my mother came to pick me and I went home too. There was no electricity so I still didn't know what was actually happening. Despite not knowing all that, I felt like crying. And I did. As soon as the electricity was back, at 2 pm, and the TV was switched on, I went into shock. I couldn't speak. I tried to blink away the tears of pain & rage, but I couldn't. I tried to comprehend what was happening, but I couldn't for a while. They were saying around 20 students were dead. Twenty! And then the CM told the press the casualties were 80-100. It was too much for me. They said 1, and I was devastated. They said 100, and I wish I would have died right then and there.
The death toll is reportedly 144. I don't believe it, it's much greater than that. I thought my tears had dried up. I still look at the pictures, profiles, even result of these martyrs, and my tears can't stop. I was sitting alone, when the sight of my uniform, with my sash gleaming on the green sweater, caught my eye. It could've easily been this uniform that would've been red today. I thought, how'll I ever wear it again? But then I think of them, the brave boys in green, fighting valiantly against the savage beasts who attacked them, of how selflessly they saved younger children. I remember some of them from our time together in junior school. I look at them now; they're all over the media. Some of them are here to see their faces all over the international media, but some of them aren't. It's hard to not mourn them. To not miss them. To not cry for them. But I can't even imagine the reward they've gotten for their bravery. I can't imagine their ranks in Jannah. I'm jealous. As for the ones who're here, I must thank them. For in their smiles, I found my strength. If they're brave enough to go back to school, so shall I be. It must be killing them inside, losing their friends. I can't think of returning to school without my friends. I can't think of a life without my friends. But look at them! It is true then, that "burdens are for shoulders strong enough to carry them." Calling them brave would be an understatement. We should comfort them, but instead, they comfort us. We're crying today. We feel as if we will never smile again. But we will. My city is bleeding. My citizens are crying. How'll we ever heal? But we will. I've seen that these brutal murderers can't terrify my Peshawar, my Pakistan. Words like ‘terror’ are not in my country’s dictionary. We've suffered so much in these 68 years. How'll we survive? But we will.