Aai aye haath uthain hum bhi...
Earlier today, as we sat down in our Contracts law class, a terrified girl rushed into the class, quite late and looking baffled. The next moment we realized that she wasn't just appearing baffled to get her late entry excused. "Please call up your dad to check if he's fine. There's been an explosion outside the Lahore High Court. Many deaths and injuries"
There was a moment of silence. Then, the instructor spoke: "No, my dad's else where. Actually... em.." Our lawyer-teacher then instructed his teaching assistant to call up the teacher's father so as to enquire his well being, while the class returned to the labyrinthine world of Contracts Act 1872. I have never had a wonderful time with the intricacies of contract law, but this session became particularly distasteful so I began to think about rivers of blood, and black coats and other evocative images and many other things and very soon the class was over. The instructor's dad was reported to be safe and sound, and he looked quite relieved.
Back at LUMS, things looked just fine. It was a cloudy winter afternoon and the breeze was blowing beautifully. I thought about how the same wind blows all around the country, all around the globe, and brings on its wings, news from distant places. What it does not bring is the smell of blood, even when blood has been spilled just a few miles away.
Later, at around 7:30, a few dozen students gathered in front of the dining hall, in response to the Student Council's call. Many times in the afternoon, recently viewed pictures from the TV screen kept popping up in my mind. Bodies of humans, piled up outside the picturesque High Court building, dressed up in khaki trousers and dark grey shirts, unmistakable members of the dreaded Punjab police. Memories retured from another day, more than two months ago, when tall and strong men, dressed up in similar attire were chasing us like rats in that very premises. They beat up our friends, humiliated us and made us walk with our hands held high, just like prisoners of war in our own country.
But that moment in the cold evening, sitting on the ground, amongst a sober gathering of students, as I raised my hands for fatiha, this is not what I was thinking about. I thought about the families of the deceased and what they must be going through. Nothing should waver us in our resolve to battle every oppressive move made by the state, but that resolve must also not blind us to the plight of human beings on both sides. Our battle is not against innocent human beings; it is against a system that pits some of us against the others, exploiting everyone in the process. It is a battle of ideas of justice against ideas of injustice. More than anything else, those who were killed today were fellow human beings, brothers in Islam, killed unjustly. They deserve all our prayers, all our regards, and the maximum of our support.
The students dispersed after enlisting their names for blood donation and making contributions to the fund that the Student Action Committee promply set up to support the families of the deceased.