reality – october 05, 2009


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.


20 Responses to “reality – october 05, 2009”

  1. phw Says:

    I am sad once again….You managed to put your feelings beautifully but still it seems there is so much more to say….one word “death” finishes the whole WORLD….. and countless words cannot describe the sorrow ….grief….loss….emptyness…

  2. Muflehun Says:

    Assalamu alaykum Mr Malik,

    Muflehun is a think tank that was recently started in Washington DC to address the issue of preventing radicalization and violent extremism within the American Muslim community. We feel it is essential to raise the voices of the victims to be heard loudly above the voices of those who preach hate.

    I saw your poem “reality” on the Global Survivors Network website and would like your permission to reprint it on our website. It is a voice that needs to be heard. Thank you in anticipation.

  3. Muflehun Says:

    Thank you very much for the permission. Our organization is not membership based however we would love to post your writings if you email them to us. We conduct research and design programs for the prevention of violent extremism.

  4. Novira Sabir Says:

    AOA Mr. Malik,

    I am from Pakistan, living and working in London. I am a wife and a mother. I saw the documentary entitled City of Fear yesterday on Channel 4. What happened to you is terrible, beyond words. Please know that your pain, grief and admirable sabr were palpable beyond the screen of the television. I will always remember you and Mrs. Tahir in my prayers.

    Your poem is incredibly sad and beautiful and I have never read anything as real as this in my life.

    Novira Sabir

  5. tahir wadood malik Says:

    Dear Novira Sabir
    Thank you for writing, we appreciate your comments and are grateful for your prayers, which we need all the time.
    Allah be with you, and keep your loved ones safe. aamen

  6. Sarah Dawood Says:

    Hi TWM – I am once again so sorry for your loss. May Gul rest in peace in Heaven… You have managed to capture such gravity in this poem. It moved me, and I realized how important life is and the people in our lives our. Thank you for sharing this. Stay strong. God bless.

  7. Sarah Dawood Says:


  8. Face to Face With Terrorism | A Housewife's Weblog Says:

    […] He writes…. […]

  9. Arooj Says:

    I know your story from our previous meeting but after reading this, the same story is now on an entirely different level in my eyes. I feel tormented, and i still can’t imagine what you must be going through.

    Thank you for writing this, thank you for staying strong and thank you for being an inspiration for us all.

  10. Javeria a khan Says:

    This is heart-wrenching !!!! The way you described it, touches the soul…

  11. Faris Rahman Says:

    Heart wrenching lines- you have captured those stricken moments as your cronology of grief and anguish that only you could have experienced but others should know.
    Thanks for sharing.

  12. Meerab afzaal Says:

    You’re too precious for this world, your wife was too. I’m afraid and I’m so scared of your fragility and being this fragile is something I can’t afford. Today I saw you in person for the first time and you told us about this world and your wife and not to change the channel next time even if we’re with our mothers and I won’t.
    This is something a thousands of hugs can’t fix. I won’t say I feel you and I know what you’re feeling because I clearly not and I’m so so scared of that anger and sadness. I do hope to see you again till then I’ll do what you taught me today with your words.

  13. Meerab Says:

    Hope you’re doing okay.

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