This is the story of Khadija Khan, a student of the Bachelors Program at the International Islamic University, Islamabad, as written by her. She was grievously injured in the 20th October 2009 suicide bombing at the University, and is now back at studies. Vivacious and with a smiling face, she is a beacon of light for her friends.
20th October 2009, a day that changed our lives.
A suicide attack at our university and we became the victims.
I am a student at the International Islamic University, Islamabad. 20th of October 2009, started as a normal day but ended as a dreadful one, my friends Gohar, Amber, Aleena, Asma, Aqsa, Kanwal, and I, were sitting in the café having a chit chat and preparing for our assignment presentation, we had our lunch and I asked Gohar to bring ice-cream. She and my two friends went to the counter, when suddenly I felt heat, just heat no sound – and I recalled the scene in Terminator movie when the girl imagines a nuclear bomb hit the country and heat coming towards her I felt the same, I saw Amber shake her head as she heard the noise as a reflex.
I didn’t fall from my chair but was sitting in it with my mind thinking what had happened, when I heard Gohar shouting “Khadija! stand up look at the blood.” She lifted a metal frame from me, I recall that I stood up and walked one or two steps and fell at Gohar’s feet, I saw nails and broken pieces of glass on the floor, soon afterwards I heard another sound of a blast, lying on the floor helplessly I just felt that I was dying. I looked up at Gohar thinking I was seeing her for the last time, and I fainted.
I opened my eyes in a taxi and saw that there was another girl lying dead in the taxi next to me. Suddenly I heard Gohar calling me; she jumped into the taxi saying “I am with her.” I saw my hand bleeding a lot and swollen, I told Gohar to call my mother, we told her that I just had hand and arm injuries, and we are going to NESCOM hospital which was the nearest to the university. I was wearing black clothes that day and as my hand injury was the only visible one so we just told that, on the way to hospital we saw ambulances and media vans heading towards our university. I just felt uncomfortable and told Gohar that I couldn’t breath properly, she replied “You just have a hand injury don’t worry.”
We reached the hospital gate the security guards stared at us because at that time nobody knew about the blast, Gohar started shouting at the guards “Cant you see blood?? Just let us go inside.” They allowed us in. When the taxi stopped the driver told us to get out Gohar stepped out and at that instant I felt I could not walk, they brought a stretcher and I was put on it, I opened my eyes in a noisy room. Doctors and nurses standing around patients while I lay quietly on the bed, I heard another girl of our university yelling at all the doctors surrounding her because of pain.
After some time somebody came and I was put on a drip, I just felt drowsy watched the scenario I lost consciousness. When I opened my eyes I was lying on the operation theatre table with three or four doctors surrounding me, one washing my hand and I heard my broken bones making a sound, the other one cutting my clothes with a scissor, it wasn’t painful, I again and again asked the doctors to call my father.
I fainted again, when I regained my senses I was brought out of the OT wearing a blue uniform lying on the bed of ICU. My brother came in and I asked the doctor when would my hand be ok? He started crying, a nurse told him to go out. I just came to know that I had multiple injuries, bones of my hand were broken in small pieces, I had fractured ribs, my lung had collapsed because of being hit by a pallet, my knee and leg had pallets in it, a pallet had passed through my chin into the neck and I was in a serious condition because of the lung.
The doctors later told us that if we had reached the hospital five minutes late, I would have died as I couldn’t breathe properly and the doctors inserted a chest tube which was really painful to keep up with. If the pallets in my knee had gone a little further they would have cut my leg, and had the pellet in my neck covered some more distance it would have cut my jugular vein, everybody says that my life is a miracle – no doubt that really is and I am thankful to Allah.
I stayed in the ICU for a month, it was really irritating, painful and noisy, I couldn’t even sit without a support; walking again was a dream at that time. After the operation I had a chest tube inserted in my left lung, had six stitches in my hand, ten in my knee and the other pallet in my leg is still in it because it is embedded in the bone.
After a long suffering of 30 days I was shifted to a room. I started walking with a stick. The room was so much better than the ICU, because the ICU had machines which were noisy and everybody there was over sixty years of age, and I was the only young one there. Also my parents were not allowed to stay there for long. So moving to a room was a big relief for me, and my friends came there to visit me. On the other hand pain started increasing day by day because I wasn’t on sedation any more.
The day I was discharged I felt happy because I missed my home, I still couldn’t walk properly. A few days later while watching the television I heard that my dear friend Aqsa had died. It came as a great shock I and cried a lot, because I was told that Aqsa’s was getting better day by day, and her sudden death was a tragic loss.
Finally the day came when I returned to the university, I went to that café, and saw the holes caused by those ball bearings in the floor and pillars. I got the flashbacks of that day.
Nothing is like before, nothing can be like before. I still forgive them who did this blast, and because of whom I suffered, May ALLAH GIVE STRENGTH TO EVERYONE WHO lost their dear ones.
Life does not stop, we have to move with the time; and as it is said – time is a big healer.