I’m ashamed my children, I let you die

I know this shame will be with me, with us, for the rest of our lives. And you, my children, and your parents will be thirsting for justice

Like my tears which dried away, my words have also become frail, futile. It has been exactly two years that you, my children, were massacred in broad daylight, and we, we all as a nation, as a state, as people, as humans stood by silently. We let your slaughter happen. And then we had the temerity to take your mindless slaughter and label it martyrdom, and made your cries of help, and terror, and helplessness become our national slogans, and your tragedy another statistic.

You have to forgive me, forgive us, though we don’t deserve your forgiveness. I am overwhelmed by shame, when I ask for your forgiveness. How can you forgive me? You left your home laughing, quarrelling, anticipating the break, planning your little mischiefs for after-school. Going and fighting the enemy, or educating children of the enemy, were perhaps too big concepts or undertakings for you to understand. You weren’t aware that instead of reprimands of your teachers, cruel bullets were waiting for you. Had you had an iota of idea what may happen to you, you would have jumped into your mothers’ laps, like we all would have done. And yet, despite all this, we as a nation have the audacity, have the shamelessness to call your slaughter martyrdom. We, as a nation haven’t yet understood that the basic, very very basic premise, of martyrdom is a sense of willingness, a semblance of free agency and will, and a thorough understanding of the consequences of your actions. But you were there for a day of school. You had never agreed to lay down your lives.

You know, we as a nation, to run from our shame, have forcefully imposed that label of martyrdom on you. We are so ashamed that we can’t face you until we glorify you. We are not glorifying you for your sake, we are glorifying you for our sake. We can’t face you without being drowned by shame, guilt. We pretend that we are in agony but no, we are in shame. That agony of ours, like your glorification, is mere an escape from our shame. You had courage to face the monsters while armless, whereas we were cowards to hide behind political expediency. Your class fellows survived your tragedy proudly, and we in our quest for self-aggrandizement also made mundane their struggle, by glamorizing their scars, their wounds, and their trauma.

Like you, we also failed your parents. Monsters were slaughtering you and your parents were running insane outside your slaughterhouse. After they collected your charred bodies we teased them by forcing them to own your martyrdom. They were pulling our shirts and exclaiming, “We hadn’t sent our children to a warfront we had sent them to school.” But still their cries were useful for our rating points. We took their cries and silenced their voice. We arranged banquets in your honor, but barred your parents from attending them. Your parents were demanding nothing but justice. We said in our smug voice, “They are martyrs, investigating martyrdom is a profanity. There is a grace in not knowing. And we had done justice with them, we have got our military courts and we will hang people at random, thanks to them.” In our opportunism we mocked your shrill cries for help, and exploited them in the best way possible to our advantage. 

You would have heard of some people declaring your massacre to be a test from God, a test of our faith. I know, you would have wondered in your innocence why God needed you to test faith of others. Why God had to destroy your universes, 148 universes, or probably more, to teach a lesson and give a wake-up call to a people in slumber. Like before, I have nothing but my shame to offer to you. I have no answer to your piercing eyes and your innocent but maddening questions. In order to escape from my shame I can only condemn those who tout your slaughter as a wake-up call from slumber.

Today, like last year, our state functionaries paid tribute to your sacrifice. They are so adamant in making your cries just another tool for their narrow goals and will go to any extent to impose their reading of martyrdom on your tiny, tiny shoulders. They made smug faces with a faint smile and an artificial disappointment. But, my children beware, they don’t have any trace of survivor’s guilt. They are not haunted by your images, your cries, your blood, your massacre. While some of us may have some trace of shame left at our inability to save your universes, those at the helm of affairs have thrown away that shame long ago for the sake of their games.

I am ashamed, my children, I let you die, and I couldn’t save you then, and I couldn’t do justice with you and your parents after your death. I know this shame will be with me, with us, for the rest of our lives. And you, my children, and your parents will be thirsting for justice. But justice won’t come. The dark ideology that killed you is still intact and its lords, proponents and commanders are still at large. We neither challenged the dark ideology nor its prophets.

Hurmat Ali Shah is a freelance writer interested in intersection of culture, politics and society. He can be reached at hurmata.shah@gmail.com. Follow him on Facebook