Getting a second life – the victim of June 13, 2011 suicide bombing speaks.
Monday June 13, 2011 was another day at work, and Waseem Umar went to the bank at about 2:30 pm, for a transaction. Parking his motorbike in front of the bank next door like so many times before, he admired the red colors of its signage. The guard at the door frisked him with a hand held metal detector, and waved him in.
As he sat with the customer service executive, she asked him for the particulars of work, and went to call the staff member who would do the transaction, who then came to attend to Waseem, while the lady went to do some other work.
Suddenly there was a blast – so intense that for a moment he was disoriented, his nose and mouth was filled with a fine dust, he thought his heart had shifted from left to the right side of his chest! The air-conditioning ducts spewed gas, and there was a smell of diesel, acrid and throat burning sensation of explosives.
All round him was a stunned silence, and then everyone in the bank started to run and speak at once. He looked at the mouths of people moving, but no sounds came out. The blast had temporarily deafened him. He looked around and was stunned at the confusion; no one knew what had happened and what to do?
As his hearing returned, he heard a babble of voices, people saying bomber, suicide, amid the ringing in his ears. He did not know what to think, do, or how to act. Shaking his head he saw everyone rush to the door and window, but these were closed. The auto lock mechanism had kicked in place. The bank manager was shouting secure the cash, secure the cash; the staff was busy locking the strong room, while utter confusion prevailed.
As his senses returned he looked at himself, and was relieved to see he was uninjured. He called the office and informed them of his situation and asked someone to come collect him, as he did not know if his motorbike was safe or damaged.
The guard inside and the bank staff opened the door, noise and dust came in, Waseem realized that he had just escaped death by a hairs breadth! He came out and looked about the building. The red signage he had admired a short while back lay broken and tattered all over the ground. Debris, broken glass, twisted metal, an acrid smell, smoke all over; flesh, and blood splashed all over the walls, nauseating feeling.
He walked to his motorbike on wobbly feet, and dusted the dust off the seat, when he saw a few pieces of meat, raw and red – stuck in the handle bar and the seat! Waseem stood frozen, and as if glued to the ground.
He was relieved that at least his motorbike was intact. He dusted and cleaned it, and in the noisy confusion that prevailed all over, he started his motorbike and left the scene.
Reaching the office he was surrounded by the staff and found himself to be a hero, being congratulated for having lived through death. He had no feelings, his thoughts and body was numb. As the news came on on the various media channels, he realized that he was indeed lucky for having lived.
Waseem today, a week later still has nightmares of those ten minutes of his life, ten minutes that made the difference in life and death, thankful for having lived through the bombing, and mindful of the two who died and others who were injured.
Now Waseem is one of the hundreds of Pakistani victims of a bombing, and his heart beats with the others. He now speaks against such incidents, and prays for a Pakistan safe from terrorism.
Waseem works for a private company in Islamabad, he was in a bank next door to the bank where a suicide bomber blew himself up on June 13, 2011. He was lucky to escape unhurt. Waseem talked to Tahir Wadood Malik of the Pakistan Terrorism Survivors Network about his experience.
June 20, 2011. 5:30 pm