So the words that follow will not be tempered and measured. They will not be weighed and balanced. And this is because we live in a land where a young child, Aitezaz Hussain, had to give his life fighting a scourge that our own leaders bend over backwards in an attempt to appease. There is sorrow and rage because a nation that can produce such lions does not deserve to be led by such lambs.
For those just now attending this bitter wake, Aitezaz was a 13-year-old-boy who stopped a suicide bomber from entering his classroom. Arriving late for school, he was punished by not being allowed to attend the morning assembly. Standing outside the gate, he saw a man trying to enter. He saw the detonator of his suicide vest; he saw a split second chance and saved countless lives with a courage few of us can match. Had he not been there, had he not done what he did, dozens, maybe hundreds of children would have lost their lives in a flash of fire, their bodies torn apart by cruel, blind shrapnel.
And as their hearts would stop beating, the souls of those who loved them would also dim and die. It would remain unanswered, the question of what may have been. It would be deafening, the absent echo of laughter through a house. It would be unbearable, the waiting for a child who would never return, would never grow up, never live and never love.
Instead, there is only one family that will have to bear this burden; only one mother who will never welcome her son home. It’s still one too many. And there are many such homes across the length and breadth of this blighted land. Homes where despair lives in empty rooms, where the silence is of the grave.
From what the family says, they stand tall. In this moment of darkness, they hold onto the belief that their child did not die in vain, that he made the greatest sacrifice possible, that his blood bought life by stopping a beast who walked with and worshipped nothing but death. But for how long? The world will move on, the focus – what little there is of it – will shift and they will be left alone in empty rooms, waiting for a voice that will never be heard again.
We don’t need more Aitzazs’. Not one or one million. What we need is to be worthy of the one we lost. What we need is for those who claim to lead us to show the courage that this boy did. Perhaps, that is too much to ask from those who roll out apologies and obfuscations with such unerring regularity, but stammer and shake when it comes to naming those responsible for mass murder.
Those who can pray for and praise killers before the blood of their victims has even dried. We need those men and women who can look Aitzaz’s family in the eye, hold them in their arms and tell them – in all honesty – that their son did not die in vain.
And until you can do that, dear leaders, keep your hollow words to yourselves. Leave us to our silence.
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