How blessed am I by the favour of the Almighty to be woken up at 4am today by my healthy and hungry 7-month old for her routine feeding. And how blessed is she to have the warmth of a crib, in the warmth of a safe home, and to be in the arms of her mother without having to even cry for milk. It was a peaceful and typical few minutes as I nursed her back to sleep, scrolling through my newsfeed to see what the morning had in store for me today. And I was punched in my core with a tragic status that a cousin in Pakistan had posted minutes earlier. Children? School? Shooting? Taliban? None of this made sense then and probably will never make sense to any of us sane people.
My heart breaks for the young lives that were senselessly lost, and my heart aches for the surviving victims that heard, saw, smelled and were touched by the barbarism that infested the Army Public School in Peshawar this morning. But most of all, my heart bleeds for the parents.
When we become parents, from the moment we learn of the pregnancy, we start to form an idea of how the future will look. How it will all change, how it will be busier, and how it will shine. A child becomes the center of his mother’s universe as soon as he forms his temporary abode in the womb. Every kick, every flutter, every hiccup that the pregnant mother feels is loaded with hope, dreams, and prayer. She daydreams about his face. She wonders about his smile and his smell. A mother and a father may giggle at the thought of this little being they created, curiously crawling into unfriendly corners, or laughing at the sight of water pouring out of a faucet. A father will plan to take his child out for walks in the park. He will think about all the lessons he will have to teach this young person and how he will help with homework. Parents will worry over things as common as coughs and stumbles and celebrate milestones such as sports victories and passing grades. They’ll share their plans for their child’s long-term future: “I want him to be an engineer.” Or, “I want her to have a fairytale wedding.” And the most popular sentiment of all, “I want him to have everything I didn’t have.”
These are the thoughts and feelings that unite all parents, of all children, all over the world. But the mothers and fathers of the 132 children we lost in Peshawar today won’t be able to see their visions for their children become a reality. Those dreams were massacred today. Among those children could have been scientists, leaders, humanitarians, and so SO much more. All we know now is that these parents will have a void in their hearts and in their homes that will never ever be filled. The dreams they once had for their beloved children have now vanished in the wake of this tragic nightmare.
So tonight I reflect on my own dreams for my little ones and I adjust them to keep up with the time and world we live in. I fluff up and colour my dreams like bright cotton candy to contrast the darkness of this world. Yes, I want them to have the kind of education, lifestyle and faith that brings them success and contentment. But for the sake of my children’s well-being, I also dream of a radical, positive change in the world. A world that is free of violence and intolerance. I dream that differing beliefs do not divide, but illuminate this world.