APS Tragedy: Let Us Heal
There was something in the air of my city during the days leading to 16th of December 2014, and we could all catch a whiff of it. Some of us stopped sending our children to school and some of us began moving cities. But for the most part, we realised it too late and we paid in a currency that we can never earn back.
What happened six years ago has left a wound like no other. Just hearing the word ‘December’, ‘2014’, or ‘APS’ conjures up the images that haunt us wherever we go, whenever in time. Because on that day, for the first time, not only did 140 families mourn but the whole nation grieved. We felt as if a part of us had died on that school campus with the children too. I was too young to comprehend the gravity of the event, but I knew something terribly awful had happened. My nine-year-old self had never seen something unite my countrymen like this, not even our collective love for cricket or biryani.
It was not long after media companies, ISPR, government institutions, schools and youtubers created dedicated videos. They were all produced in the best of intentions; to remember those who had fallen. But they all contain similar themes – blood, gore, guns, screaming children and the propagation of stereotypes. Six years later, Peshawer is still recovering, while our trauma, our loss and our pain is mutilated by the rest of the country into theatrical school skits and youtube videos that are incredibly insensitive and disrespectful. In these performances, corpses lie on the ground and teachers are burnt alive, blood is spilt and innocent screams echo, bullets fire and children cry. This is all a gruesome attempt at recreating the scene that ensued within the walls of Army Public School.
Additionally, terrorists are introduced into the performance who all share long black beards and wear Pathan caps. This advances the stereotype that all terrorists have beards and are Pakhtun even though it clashes with facts and accounts of the survivors which claim the shooters were of different nationalities/races and clean-shaven.
There is a grave fault in the manner in which we show our grief for the fallen. We need to realise that it is irresponsible, insensitive, disrespectful and offensive among many other things. Peshawer is healing or at least trying to, but we cannot do it without the rest of the country’s support.