By Sami Shah
September 15, 2011
We do not mourn our dead. They receive no memorials and no tributes. There is no musician singing a song in their memory and no plaques laid with their names inscribed. Our channels do not dedicate special programming to them and our papers publish no supplements honouring their memory. To us they are dead and gone, easier forgotten than remembered.
After all, who do we start with? The victims of terrorism would be on a list that is expanded and updated too regularly to capture in a single moment. They are soldiers and military personnel, they are believers in houses of prayer and children riding buses to school. To build a monument to them would require too much space. There is not enough stone in the world to carve their names into.
The subjects of target killings? Their very deaths are suspect to us. We do not know if those killed were killers themselves and thus unworthy of being honoured. And those who are clearly innocents caught in crossfire cannot be acknowledged because to accept their deaths is to accept the existence of their murderers. The political parties will have you believe that everyone who died committed suicide by inflicting vicious self-abuse on their own person before climbing into a gunny bag. To honour them we would have to compose songs about nobody dying because nobody killed them.
Do we remember those killed by flooding? Villagers drowned by water that could have been held back and disease that could have been staved off with proper preparation. Best to forget them because they are poor and clearly don’t matter to the rest of us and their deaths were inconvenient in reminding us that we didn’t bother to help them in the year that has passed since the last identical floods. A monument to their sacrifices would only be appropriate if built in sand near water so it can be washed away and rebuilt exactly the same, only to be washed away again.
Maybe we light candles in memory of those who died in (Karachi’s) Jinnah Hospital’s ICU? Killed not because their illnesses overtook them or the medical care was inadequate but simply because there was no power to keep them alive and no money to fuel the generators with. The only tribute that would match the senselessness of their deaths would be a bonfire of cash. Thick clouds of smoke rising upwards from a flaming mountain of money as a reminder that we would rather waste it all on nothing than give a penny of it where it deserves to go.
How about minorities murdered and those that died fighting for their right to live. Shias, Ahmadis, Christians, Hindus. To even suggest such a thing is laughable. They did not believe in that which we did and for that they clearly deserved to die. The only way we shall remember them is by piling their bodies high and planting a flag on top, completely green in color.
Remember the dead and disappeared Baloch? How can they exist when we do not acknowledge their existence? For them we can offer only a moment of silence. A moment that extends as long as it takes for them all to disappear and be killed.
Instead let us honour and mourn those still living. Build monument and sing songs in the memory of those that are not yet dead. For their souls clearly are. They blatantly look away from the suffering in their midst while apotheosising the killers and murderers. They would rather watch buffoons prattle on television while discussing conspiracies and fantasy in voices loud enough to drown out the audible death rattles around them. For them, for us, let’s weep and cry. At least we would be doing something for someone.
Source: The Express Tribune, Lahore