Grieving for Peshawar – ‘the smallest coffins are the heaviest’


More than 130 children dead. Not just numbers, but names, children, lives, futures. Dead. How are the parents processing this? The children who survived this, lying in hospital beds with bullets in their bodies, visions of death and blood, of their screaming classmates flashing before them. How are they processing this?

When they return to school, there will be empty desks and missing teachers. The playground will be emptier. How will they pick up their pencils and their books and continue? How will they console each other? How does one proceed from here? How do we gather ourselves and continue to live? There is darkness all around.

Today, the world mourns with us. Tomorrow it will forget. But we won’t. We can’t. This isn’t just politics. These aren’t just numbers. These are entire lives ended forever. There will be families who will sit for dinner and think of those who will always be missing at the table. There will be notebooks and textbooks with names and doodles scrawled into them, never to be touched again. There will be uniforms hanging in the closet never to be worn again. There will be emptiness. There will be spaces filled with grief and pain rather than lives. There will be echoes of laughter and mischief, of ambitions and hopes – interrupted, halted – haunting their loved ones at every corner. There will be family photographs and school photos found in boxes and on walls and in the frames, and they will look back at us and remind us how the children once lived.

These four studied together and died together.


Here a few of their names. Say them out loud. Again. And again. And again. Let them sit heavy in your heart.

Ali Khan
Farhad Hussain
Fazal Raheem
Hamza Ali
Saeed Ur Remham Shah
Syed Abdullah

All The Rhetoric 

On social media our profile pictures are turning black. We keep posting and posting and repeating words and articles. Because we do not know what else to do. We feel helpless. It is already too late. What can I do to show that I am so grieved and hurt and the tears can’t stop? What can I do to show that I am absolutely devastated? What can I do to show that I am livid with anger and horror? I want this to never have happened, but it has. And there’s no going back. And I can’t do anything. So let me offer my meagre words. Let me add more words to your outpour. Let me release the grief and pain and I will listen to your words and your grief and your pain and your anger. I will read your posts. We will discuss this again and again via texts and phone calls. We will embrace each other at vigils and stare into flickering candle flames. We will share our poems and quotes and pictures and hashtags. We will share our tears and anger. Because we need to do this. We need to vent our frustration and grapple for solutions. Let us come closer and console each other. All the rhetoric won’t bring them back. But perhaps speaking about this event in our different ways will help us wrap our heads around it. Perhaps it will help prevent future catastrophes. Speak about it. Say their names. Raise all hell. Be angry. Cry. Let all the pain out. Somehow, we will survive this.