Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Pakistan - Dear #Mashal, we’re all guilty of your murder

Alishba Akram

My editor asked me to write about Mashal Khan, 200-250- words, everybody was writing about him so he thought I should too. I wanted to too, I wanted to say things, things that I felt and things that were spilling out of me in mute chaos. In the way I’d cry hysterically at night, in the way I’d scold my sister for no reason, in the way I’d leave my chae to get cold, in the way I’d avoid messages on my phone and in the restlessness that took over me post Mashal’s murder. I wanted to write about him but I do not have 250 words to write, I do not even have one or even a thousand words.
So I put it off, writing about him, but I could not stop thinking about him. I’d go back to his profile and stalk him like he was still alive, I’d read every article about him reminding me that he wasn’t. His father’s interview, his mother’s eyes, his sister’s fearlessness when remembering her brother on TV, it feels like everything that could be said or written about him has already been written about him and there still isn’t closure. There’s still anger, there’s still disappointment and there is still fear.
I don’t know what I am angriest at, the fact that Mashal was killed in the manner that he was by educated young men; the fact that these educated young men had joy on their faces while beating him to death, or the slogans of Takbeer chanted while murdering a boy, or the broken fingers his mother had to kiss, or the fact that upon hearing about the incident everybody’s first question was whether he did it?, or the #NotAllMuslims, #ThisIsNotIslam, “the Prophet (PBUH) teaches forgiveness and these men were not Muslims”, arguments all over the internet.
I don’t know what I am most fearful of, that a large number of people exist who can murder someone by beating them, or that an even larger number of people exist who think that this was right.
I do not know who I’m more disappointed in, the religiously charged boys who killed Mashal, the people who glorified the killers, those who asked for proof of blasphemy as if that would justify the murder, any murder, the police trying to recover Mashal’s ‘real’ Facebook profile before arresting the ‘real’ murderers, those who condemn it silently or those who condemn it for the wrong reasons?
I also do not know if mine is the place to be feeling all of this, I was, after all, not related to Mashal, by blood at least. I cannot share in his father’s loss, his mother’s helplessness, his sister’s pain but I can share in this country’s reality. I can share in the insecurity every citizen of this country with a voice has. I can share in the fear that Mashal wasn’t the first neither the last, next could be me or a friend, or a brother, I can share in the belief that the state will not protect us nor will give justice, because the state is handcuffed behind its back against the ground, I can share in the horror that mine or my brother’s fingers could be the broken ones my mother has to kiss one day. I can share in this reality of the country I call home.
So here I am ending on 500 words, a little more than my editor expected, a lot less than what Mashal deserves. Still at a loss of words, still unable to find closure.

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