For the first time in my life today, the number 11 felt greater than what I had ever been taught. Larger than a mere numeral, much heavier than just a statistic.
I went back to the news story I had read earlier in the morning. This time, reading it slowly, I weighed in each and every word.
“At least 11 people, including additional sessions judge Rafaqat Awan, were killed and 29 others wounded on Monday during a gun and bomb attack in a court in the capital city’s F-8 area.”
Once the knowledge that Fizza, a former colleague and friend, was at work at the F-8 court when the attack happened was no longer an incoherent thought, the next few lines of the news story grew deafening, word after word.
“Two blasts took place inside the court's premises, one near the lawyers' chambers and the second office.
“Lawyers fled from their chambers seeking shelter from bullets as fear and panic gripped the premises.”
That is never how you want to remember a friend’s last living moments: Gripped in fear.
Shaking my head, I tried to replace the image with that of how I have always known Fizza Malik: A soft voice, a large smile and always full of life.
Her petite frame animated with unbounded energy; conversations with Fizza were a mix of hugely varying issues.
From being a cricket fan to passionately talking about the social ills of Pakistan, Fizza was never one to shy away from voicing her opinions.
For all those who know Fizza, our souls are dim today. We are one with the families and friends of all of those who lose a Fizza every day in this country. Fizzas, who are not just death toll numbers, but realities that ring louder than the hollow words of our leaders.
From the daily oblivion that we have all inherently become a part of, Fizza’s death is yet another reminder of how close the war is. We can now touch it, smell it. It has flowed from other cities, into ours.
The war is in our homes, in our hearts. We sleep and awaken in its fold every day, knowing that today, someone we know has been irreversibly damaged because of it.
But the question is, what do we all, those who are silently watching the unraveling of this war, do about it?
In a world where men play God, do we stay indifferent enough to let them continue? Are we exhausted from being angry? Or are we just waiting for ‘one of our own’ to be killed next?