Where is my father?

Today is October 26, 2012 and I am sitting in the examination hall amongst my classmates with a sheet of questions in front of me. The only difference between my classmates and I is that they are all fervently filling out their foolscap sheets, whereas I am just sitting, blanking staring at the wall in front of me. My mind silently fights to retain memories as I frantically search for something to start this essay with – an essay about a man who was taken away from me before I was old enough to say his name.

With no words coming to my rescue, I helplessly glance down at the title of the essay: “My Father”.

Since I do not have a clear recollection of him, I can only describe him on the basis of what I have heard from my mother and other relatives. They all told me that he was caring, hardworking, a man of his word and did everything to keep his family happy. But that is it. They stop talking about him as abruptly as he disappeared from our lives. He went to work one day and never returned. We looked for him everywhere. My mother ran from hospitals to police stations and his friends’ houses to mortuaries but found no trace of him. He was gone as if he never existed.

Whilst growing up I could never understand what actually happened to him but there were times when I heard people talking in hushed tones about how he was abducted by security forces because he was conspiring against the state with nationalists working to separate Balochistan from Pakistan. I do not know how far that is true but what I would like to know is how that is possible? He was no Mengal, Bugti, Marri or Magsi. He was an ordinary man who worked day in and day out to make ends meet and put food on our table. He was least concerned about the state of affairs in Pakistan, unless they affected how frequently his family was fed.

I understand that my teachers are probably expecting me to write flowery words about him but how can I be expected to write about a man who never existed? Perhaps, it would be unfair to say he never existed. He still does in my memories. And from them, I know that he was from Turbat, one of the most beautiful places in Balochistan. He was a fruit merchant and owned a shop, known for its dates. He had raven black hair, a thick moustache, and beard that he prided upon. Every evening he would return from work with Halwa, dates or sweets, his hands were never empty. I also remember that he took me to the Koh-e-Murad once; he told me that this was a very sacred place, asking me to fold my hands and ask Allah for whatever I wanted, and that it would be granted. I remember folding my hands and praying hard for every day to be a happy day. I learnt that day that not all our prayers are answered.

Ever since I have lost him, I have been faced with a profound sense of deprivation — a feeling which is difficult for me to describe in mere words. I am surrounded by faces that strive hard to maintain an impenetrable outward façade but I know the truth. I wish I hadn’t known the truth or that my life was different and normal like the other girls sitting around me in this examination hall.

This sense of deprivation gives me heartache and fierce emotions ranging from envy to intense hatred. I loathe the girls who are accompanied by their fathers to school; I despise children who boast about bed time stories narrated by their fathers and I absolutely resent the idea of festivities. These events constantly remind me of his absence and how different my life is from other girls of my age.

Oddly, I am just as hopeful as I am angry. Every knock on the door fills me with anticipation; I instantly picture him walking through the door, a box of dates in his hands. Families get together and talk about good times but in my house, when we get together, we all huddle in front of the television praying to catch a glimpse of his face. I follow every bit of news that could be remotely associated with his disappearance. I see politicians, social workers, barristers and other influential power brokers fighting over the issue of missing persons. But what do they really know. Do they realise that my family hasn’t celebrated Eid since the time he went missing? Do they know how long and tedious our days have become under the heavy burden of this constant hope to hear news about his return?  Do they care that I have spent my childhood clinging to his sweater, to pacify my senses that my father actually existed and was not merely a figment of my imagination? I don’t think they do. I don’t think that they even understand that when he was abducted, I did not only lose him but I lost my mother as well. My mother, who does nothing all day but sit by the door in wait of his return, may as well have disappeared with my father that fateful day.

Sometimes when I see people from other countries on television living lives without the horrors that we go through every day, I ask God what sins did we commit for which he punishes us this way? Why wasn’t I born in some country where people live happily and the incidents of disappearances only happen in movies? Can anybody blame me for disliking people who live far better lives than me?

Most days I wish for his safe return. But when optimism exhausts me, there are days when I think it would be better if we just found his lifeless body somewhere; so that we could finally stop searching, so that we could finally find peace.


Faiza Mirza
The writer is a Reporter at Dawn.com

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Comments (35) Closed

Oct 28, 2012 05:04am
along with you hundreds and other felt down in the same conditions,,,
Oct 26, 2012 12:46pm
Very sad, only one who is suffering knows what pain is.
Oct 26, 2012 12:38pm
Nice article. All i can say is i wish there were places where there were people with no pains. At times i wish there were certain previliges which would take away ones pains but they never do. We do have a perception of certain people without pain but closer we are to them we know differently.
Oct 26, 2012 12:43pm
sad indeed
Oct 26, 2012 10:49am
what a heart wrenching article .. brilliantly written. After reading this article I don't know if I would be able to celebrate this eid....
Oct 26, 2012 11:21am
Oh my gosh! Such a touching piece on the eve of Eid. My eyes glisten with tears for the family of every missing Baloch.
Oct 26, 2012 01:39pm
@Javed: I wonder how you had the heart to post a comment like this! You seem to have had access to education, but clearly it has not made you very sensitive, or civilized. But I still pray that you are forgiven by God, whatever religion you belong to. May you find courage in your life to live a life of compassion. With no ill feelings whatsoever! Rakesh
Cyrus Howell
Oct 26, 2012 02:21pm
Oct 26, 2012 01:18pm
How can you say that..did you know her father?
Cyrus Howell
Oct 26, 2012 02:38pm
FROM ANOTHER THREAD: Dr. Wahid Baloch October 26, 2012 9:49 am FC is the main cause of the problem and not a part of any solution. Even the chief justice of Pakistan had blamed and criticized FC for human right abuses, kidnapping and extra-judicial killings in Balochistan. As long as FC stays in Balochistan, the situation in Balochistan will not improve, but get worse, as FC is an anti-Baloch Pashtun force which has been involved in
Oct 26, 2012 10:18am
Our condolesences to all our sisters who go through this. May Shiva provide you the strength to overcome this. But, unless there is a reformation in Islam, this is going to be a never ending cycle. The reformation has to come from Muslims themselves like it happened for all major religions worldwide. Let us pray that to happen very soon.
Oct 26, 2012 02:04pm
Faiza, your sensitivity to the tragedies of ordinary human beings must be commended. In today's world where humans have descended to the lowest level of the animal kingdom, such empathy is rare to find. May God Bless you and give you the strength to continue speaking forcefully on behalf of the oppressed and marginalized. You are a solitary ray of hope in a land covered by darkness, which is testing Allah's patience to the limit.
Oct 26, 2012 02:07pm
The day you people of Pakistan get the guts to stand up for your rights will be a new dawn for your nation.And a great sigh of relief to the world.I am not talking of a physical revolution. I am talking of a mental one where your people can vote in a government that puts people's welfare first. Then girls like you or anyone will not loose their loved ones to the so called forces in power.Wishful thinking,yes.But then one can always hope.Though I doubt it will ever happen in your country with your diverse groupings and the lack of proper education.Easily exploited by your politicians and the zameendars.
Cyrus Howell
Oct 26, 2012 02:11pm
"He is an unknown quantity, an anonymous individual." Von Clauswitz . It could very well be your father was an active nationalist. . In a police state (or province in this case) you never know who is listening to you. Even secondary students are recruited to spy on their friends and their families in exchange for favors. Overthrowing a government is a risky business. Probably your father simply shared his opinions too openly and may have looked like a potential leader. Why not ask some of the leading nationalists by e-mail if they knew your father? It may have been that a death squad saw your father as a potential threat. That is the way they work. If you are perceived as a threat, you are a threat. . If a man is a nationalist he might not tell his wife and friends or expose the family to danger. This may be a mystery than never will be solved. Let's not portray him as a victim.
Oct 27, 2012 08:25am
Amen. Respect.
Oct 26, 2012 02:16pm
It may be true Javed but the goverment should tell the family members that why he has been taken into cusody so at least the family will not wait endlessly. I feel very bad for the children. We all are human and we want our loved ones with us. Hopefully she will get the infomation about her father (dead or alive) soon.
Cyrus Howell
Oct 26, 2012 02:18pm
I had friends whose fathers fought in World War II and never came back. There are always questions. Sometimes Life is not fair.
Oct 26, 2012 02:35pm
its make me cry
Muhammad Khan
Oct 27, 2012 12:01pm
His father must be out there in mountains and planning to kill innocent pashtuns, punjabis, settlers, Shiites and all those patriotic Pakistanis who do not agree to their violent dreams, or, he must be tweeting hatred from abroad against Pakistan. I was born, educated and now live in Quetta and I wonder Why on earth in my 29 years of life no body from FC / Police or intelligence agencies ever came to my home/ university and workplace (or to any of my friend or family whom i know) for raid/ investigations, to make us missing person or whatever?
Aamir Aleem
Oct 28, 2012 08:57am
Shame on you for such nonsense thinking!
Oct 26, 2012 07:59pm
i m speechless ,, just tears are rolliong down my checks
A Pakistani
Oct 26, 2012 08:51pm
I have a solution but it will never be accepted by mainstream Pakistanis. Abolish religion in public life ( I repeat public life) because religion is such a sensitive issue as it can bring out the beast in almost all of us ( Specially Pakistanis). Make an anti prophet dumb film and people will kill themselves over it. Let us make Pakistan like Turkey. Turkey is a model for all the Muslim world. Religious beliefs and secularism balanced.
Oct 27, 2012 08:02am
What an amazing story, good work, keep it doing,
Oct 28, 2012 04:45am
ok allah help him all the time
Oct 27, 2012 08:55am
No. I couldn't read completely...Just tears....Wish I could help her...
Oct 26, 2012 04:06pm
uhhhh so sad .so many issues and no solution :(
Mohdudul Huq
Oct 27, 2012 06:31pm
Muslim people are killing Muslims and non-Muslim people are also killing Muslim. Then where innocent Muslim will go and how where are able to live peacefully?
Oct 27, 2012 01:08pm
tru what u said but it will never happen in your country .. it is very sad news abt mssing persons .
Krish Chennai
Oct 26, 2012 04:24pm
Jen, this has nothing to do with any religion. whether practiced rightly or wrongly. It simply has to do with a girl missing her Dad. All religions, ( let alone Islam ) and the strictest practitioners of any faith, have to bow down to that Pathetic.
Muhammad Khan
Oct 27, 2012 11:45am
"Baloch citizens must be allowed to move freely without any intimidation and harassment" wow so that they could do the same to settlers and outsiders, kill them, kidnap them. I m son of quetta and whatever is written above is some fake and sadist script.
Oct 28, 2012 09:10am
Mr. Muhammad Khan, I doubt you are from Quetta, If you were you would have known that "Settlers" are living there for generations but never felt intimidated from Balochs. All the neighbours of Nawab Bugti on Fatima Jinnah Road Quetta were settlers. Do you think Balochs have gone crazy? You can't understand the pain because you are not from Quetta. What is happening in Balochistan is a reaction to the atrocities committed against a defenseless people.
Krish Chennai
Oct 26, 2012 04:43pm
There's a certain relationship between daughter and father which ordinary men like us cannot fathom. I had a neighbour named Abdul Qader, and his daughter who would be in my place "knew" exactly when he would come home, about 15 minutes before his actual arrival. Sorry for the writer of this article, she will have to live with the wait, all her life.
Javed Qamer
Oct 26, 2012 12:29pm
Your father was not a victim of state sponsored terrorism but was an active participant in acts of terrorism. I am sorry he disappeared but on the other hand some people lived because he did not explode bombs.
Aniket Kaushal
Oct 26, 2012 11:37am
This is so bad..police must atleast give you all the info they have in this regard..may god bless you.
Oct 27, 2012 08:59pm
@Muhammad Khan Have a heart! Do not let hatred get the better of you. Especially on Eid! If you don't have words of comfort for a person who is mourning her father's disappearance, at least don't make such acrid remarks against her!