When death becomes a routine

August 9th, 2016, 1pm

It was 31°C with scattered clouds. The breeze was gentle.

As a Pakistani, I have seen more violence than I could bear. This year has already brought deaths of- a gifted artist, an outspoken women and hundreds others.

Often, before going to bed I ask myself: “Have I gotten used to of it (violence/death)?” Despite being a journalist and observing many of these tragedies from up close, the answer is always ‘NO’.

When everyday brings fresh news of death and agony you start building emotional barriers around you. You design your own coping mechanisms.

You successfully insulate yourself from the omnipresent mayhem.

But sooner or later you realize that these barriers have started to crumble and before you could do something about it they turn into debris leaving you vulnerable and scared.

For past two years, I have been using my nephew as a shield. Every time there is a bad news I think about him, spend time with him. He reminds me that there is still joy in the world and the world is still a good place.

As his 3rd birthday approaches, I find myself wondering how he will survive in this world. Is he going to be safe? Will he be able to find peace and happiness?

When I was a kid there was considerable violence in Karachi but I had a fairly happy childhood somehow my parents managed to keep us away from it.

Is he going to be so lucky?Are we going to keep all this madness away from him? I am not sure and it scares me.

I can write about it on social media, I can talk my heart out, I can go to protests and vigils, I can make documentaries about it but can I change things for better? Is there anyone else who can? These are tough questions to answer.

So what should I do? When death becomes a routine what are you supposed to do?

Should I believe that just like his aunt he is going to be strong too? Should I prepare him for what seems inevitable? Should I come up with some lessons that children should learn so they could deal with trauma? Would that make a great birthday present?

The truth is I am not strong, I can never accept this as normal, I can never get used to of death and mayhem, I can never come up with a mechanism that would keep me insulated from blood and gore and I don’t think anyone can.

I wake up there is death, I cry I shout I tell people, they sympathize with me; I start to feel better as consoling words start to pour in.

But the next days it happens again and the whole cycle repeats itself, then the next day and the day after and the day after that.

For how long do you think I can live like this?

I can pretend I will not wither away in the madness but I know better than that.

I stop pretending; my social media posts become less and less frequent until I completely stop using it.

‘I need a real solution,’ I tell myself ‘Should I leave to some far off place?’

‘Should I take my nephew with me?’

“If I do that he will never walk on the streets I walked upon as a child, he would never play the games I played as a kid, he would never sing the songs I used to sing, he would never enjoy the food I used to eat and he would never know the jokes and stories I (and his dad) learnt as kids. He would never know where he belongs.”

What if he grows up and asks himself, “Have I gotten used to of it (death/violence) yet?” And the answer is ‘Yes’???

When death becomes a routine there are only questions and fears.


David Wade said thanks.

Share this moment

Hina Ali

I am a storyteller who is trying to be a great listener because if you can't listen you can't tell great stories.

Create a free account

Have an account? Sign in.

Sign up with Facebook