reality – october 05, 2009

June 9, 2010 by

took me almost eight months to sit and write this.

gul rukh tahir was the first victim of the october 05, 2009 suicide bombing in the united nations world food program country office, islamabad, pakistan.

this piece has been written by tahir wadood malik her widower on may 9, 2010, at 5:45 pm


the call called me out
and i ran.
a scene of chaos
before me i saw
no one familiar
no one known
pell-mell running feet
stopping all from going in.

a hand held my arm
i looked at a face
worn and sad
she is taken from here
to the medical centre
or the hospital
hurry sir
he said.

i turned and ran
the medical centre was near,
first there i thought
and walked briskly
a voice called out
i turned
the medical centre sir
she is taken there.

a hop and i was there
running to the steps up
when another voice called
sir here
turning i saw him pointing
he came close and said
be strong sir
and turned his face.

down the slope i went,
entering a small room,
packed full with people
smelling of antiseptic,
gurneys covered in white sheets
a doctor looked at me
i took your name.

she looked at me
sad and sorry
pointing to the nearest
white sheet, she walked to it.
i stood as if riveted to the floor
is she gone i asked
she nodded,
and held the corner of the sheet.

leaden feet one after the other
just three steps
to see your face
drained of life’s color
the smile gone
nothing to give me hope.
just an endless dark tunnel,
with no light at the end.

you had left the world
you had left me, who you said
was your world,
i was left
without a thought
without any idea of next.
looking at your white face
closed eyes, look at me i said.

did you smile?
did you know i was standing there?
did you feel the tear
that fell on your cheek?
did you feel my hand on your face?
could you feel my willing you to wake?
or was it all cold, all dark,
and finished for you?

i stood there,
suddenly tired and racked with sobs
no one to hold me
no one to console me
no one to say hush
all alone.
not even you to say i am here.
together we will overcome.

and then the haze
people coming and going
a leg lay on the table next to you
supposedly of the bomber
people came and looked at it
no one bothered about us
but that leg was it for all then.
and i was frozen in pain, anger and angst.

ambulance ride
people gathering
intruding in my feelings
despair, grief, anger,
and a loss infinite.

more people,
waiting for the inevitable
more and more
but where in all this are you?
lying cold and unconcerned in a bed
draped in a white coffin

i looked at you
wanting you to smile
wanting you to open your eyes
wishing for the noise of the wails
beating chests and prayers
to wake you
from the depth of death.

but your face
serene, calm
without worries at last
fresh like the morning dew
not even lines of any hue
eyes closed,
even the white cloth,
pale against your skin.

and they came also
who had not come before
all standing
some silent
some crying
all sad
all lost
no words no actions enough.

and then it was time
picking you up
one on each of the four posts
reciting the oneness of god
who had taken you from me
so cruelly,
still being exalted and called to succor,
knowing i had but to suffer.

and then the prayers,
and a ride to the last resting place
a pit dark and dreary
i shuddered
you would hold my arm
even to step a step up
and this was so much down!
how could i hold you now?

and it was all over
dust to dust
consoling words
a dirge
another prayer
how could i leave you?

but i did leave you
in a pit covered with fresh dug soil
put on there with my own hands
my prayers mixed with the rest
a feel of death, a pain, a void,
in my heart
where you lived.

and food was served
people forgot death
food, the source of life
for the living was being taken
no one bothered to say
the food was important
my loss was reality and not.

and then they left
leaving me to my self
my thoughts
my feelings
my emptiness
my fight with my god
my forlornness
and my grief

and good too that was
for there was too much
going on in me

and the night passed
just as you had passed from this
to another world
just as i had passed
from a happy man
to a sad being
wondering why
this had come to pass?

but then life reared its head
wanting to extract its pound of flesh
not wanting to wait for the next
but wanting me not to rest
and i shrugged
and i looked
and i picked up the shackles of life
and i went to put my shoulder to the plough.


One for the Road

September 8, 2019 by

One for the road!

My article in TheNewsonSunday 8/9/19 on Khayaban-e-Anne-Marie Schimmel underpasses Lahore

A trip to Layallpur

July 25, 2019 by

Now called Faisalabad

Went after 24 years and did not know it from the city of long ago!

Old shop with Lyallpur on the signboard even now!

The Ghanta Ghar, Clock Tower in the centre of the town

A News Story i found about 09/10/2009

July 11, 2019 by

although the date in the story is incorrect, it should be 09/10/2009 i found this searching for something else!

Books peek from shelves!

February 16, 2019 by

کتابیں جھانکتی ہین بند الماری کےشیشوں سے

Gulzar sahab

Kitaban jhankti hain ………

No matter how many times you listen to a poem, one day out of the blue it hits you – hard – mesmerised you sit there lost in years of lost time without books.

Lament the move from books to desktop, to laptop & now the ubiquitous smartphone.

A rough literal translation is also here!

——— ————

Books peep through the closed glass doors of the cupboard
With much longing and desire, they stare through
For months now, we don’t meet
Those evenings that would be spent in their company, now often
They pass by, staring at the computer screen
The books remain very restless now
They have fallen into the habit of sleep walking
With unfulfilled desire, they stare at me
The norms and values that they used to narrate
While the cells (battery) wouldn’t die (as they did so)
Those norms are not visible in the house anymore
Those relationships they would narrate
Those have been left incomplete

When I turn a random page, it lets out a soft cry
Some words have lost their meaning
The letters and words seem like dried trees without leaves
On which nothing of meaning grows anymore,
Just many terminologies

Just like clay-pots were left scattered
When glasses made them obsolete
The taste of turning pages that could be felt on the tongue
Now, on the click of a finger, it happens in the blink of an eye (goes unnoticed)
A lot of layers are opened and peeled on a computer screen

That personal relationship that used to exist with books, has been cut off
Sometimes one could just lie down with a book on their chest
Sometimes they would be placed in your lap
Sometimes the knees would become a book stand
Sometimes they would be touched to the forehead, in a half-prayer

All that knowledge and wisdom, will surely keep coming to us, in the future as well
But those dried petals and leaves that would be discovered in the pages of a book,
Those relationships that were formed in the borrowing, dropping, picking up of books
What will happen to all of that?
That may not happen any more

Documentary on Lahore

February 3, 2019 by

Lahore – history, ethos & pathos


December 16, 2018 by

The unpredictability of how my moods swing without any apparent reason gets to be exhausting – yet these changes are something I have come to expect & rely on? In fact actually look forward to!

Sad even but true!

Sometimes even talking about Tolerance – Diversity – Trust – Fear – Capacity – Capability and Trauma becomes exhausting and seems futile, even though I believe in what I say & that it must be said in the face of diversity of views, actions, talk & faithlessness that I confront regularly.

When will the futility of it in peoples mind be replaced by an understanding of its importance? How many empty slogans, condolences, remembrances, vigils, prayers are needed before the hurt & pain is felt by those who make promises of change knowing nothing will change?

The irony of an iron will to fight the demonic curse of the hydra headed snake of terrorism is not lost on us.

When will the others accept? Not before the earth accepts one of theirs, a fate we want not for them!



Lahore – 17/12/18 1:00 am

3287 days

October 5, 2018 by

05/10/‘18 – 12:16 PM – 3287 days

A feeling of alexithymia sets in.

Thoughts of the past few days come together in finding expression. (Ty to friend Gill Hicks for the prompt).

Humbled to have friends who have stood with me and shared. Only Allah can recompense you for being there.

And to one above all – my ‘rock of Gibraltar’ 💖


One is constantly at war against ones limitations & inability to think positively despite ones desire to try & find ways to protect against disillusionment with ones surroundings!

Although I generally have not wished anyone undergo what I did – that was a very harsh experience; yet it is important to share my feelings about it so my connection with other human beings remains intact.

What people like me – Survivors of Terrorism – become is lonely & reclusive, incredibly lonely.

Doing this work & at the same time living with many profound often disturbing insights into humanity are taxing.

Contrary to what people would have me believe, my anger has grown over time, and it makes me wonder if this decision I made to channel these sentiments into something that motivates rather than “eats away” at my feelings was right?

The hard often thankless work with people of different disciplines, survivors, former extremists, religious and minority groups, to create a sentiment to work for stopping the devastating cycle of terrorist attacks by creating awareness of the ‘human cost of terrorism.’

Terrorists while creating chaos also dehumanise survivors; the suicide bomber who made me a survivor on 10/05/09, didn’t know me, the programming that led him to make the decision to push the button on his suicide jacket was because he perceived me as “the other” whose worldview differed with his – the bomber!

The frustrating part of surviving a suicide bombing is that the bomber is also dead.

That person & the choice he made are gone, so is Gul Rukh Tahir.

The world goes about its circling of the Sun 365/7, 10/05/09 has not changed anything for anyone, except for me.

I am still here, i still hurt, I still feel, I still stay awake, I still cannot forget!

I am a survivor!





Sat 29 sept 2018 – Oct 05, 2018 (9 years)

Fascinating Folktales found

September 22, 2018 by

Sometimes a newspaper article leads to a great find!

Mayo School of Arts, Lahore

September 22, 2018 by

A great institution Pakistanised like every thing else 😕

Now known as NCA!

Veiled death!

September 12, 2018 by

behind the veil

untold stories of waiting

un-shed tears dammed in the eyes

all waiting for the silence to break

but stuck in what everyone said

was the will of a God

who for many of us

willed death!




lahore – 13-11-2017

11:25 pm