ISLAMABAD, Oct 8: Life has a way of making us forget every once in a while. Anniversaries make us remember, often giving them the status of documented history.

Three years ago, on October 8, Islamabad experienced one of the deadliest earthquakes. Buildings swayed, stomachs churned and loose objects swung and flew.

Many, living in Margalla Towers, were helpless in the path of Mother Nature’s fury that triggered the collapse of the defectively constructed residential apartments. More than 70 people were killed including children and foreigners when a portion of the towers fell like a house of cards. Those who had survived nature’s onslaught gathered at the site Thursday morning to pray for the departed souls of their closed ones.

A service of remembrance and hope marked the October 8 earthquake. The ceremony was probably not as powerful as the first one but it was touching to see some of the families as they prayed and hugged and wiped away tears.

Dua began a little past 8:52am, the time the earthquake had struck. A girl read its translation that was followed by short speeches of hope. “It’s a difficult day for all of us,” said one of the speakers.

Three years on, the families which once lived in the multi-storey residential apartments are still dealing with emotional aftershocks.

Now thirteen-year-old and carrying the legacy of deadly earthquake on his left forearm, Danyal Rahmat fought back tears. His elder brother Salman Rahmat did not survive the collapse.

Mohammad Fahd Mahboob Haider, who was one of the few persons to help Salman into the ambulance, said he was occasionally losing his breath when we picked him. “I found out a month later he lost his battle for life on the way to hospital,” he said.

“But it’s a pleasant surprise to see Danyal is doing well. I’m seeing him after three years. I never thought he had survived because he was buried under these two heavy slabs,” Fahd said shaking his hand.

Fahd, also a victim of the Margallah Towers tragedy, had rushed back from work when his friend broke the news of the towers collapsing. Fahd lost his father and a cousin who was staying with them at the time. His mother Ms Ayla Mahboob was rescued after nearly two hours from under the towers rubble. “Something hit my head and knocked me out. Voices Koi hai koi hai woke me up and I responded. They found my husband after a week,” said Ms Mahboob who suffered multiple fractures and had to spend some eight months in the hospital.

Men and women along with their children, affected by the earthquake in Kashmir and NWFP, had also joined in the ceremony to express solidarity.

Carrying flowers, scores of children from the Imperial International School in F-10 also joined the service.

One of their teachers said, “We want to share their grief. Two of our students lost their lives in the collapse. Every year we bring children to lay flowers on the footsteps of the towers, so that we don’t forget those who lost their lives in the tragedy.”

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