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Personal Experience

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The village of Thorkum was perhaps the most beautiful place that I had seen, surrounded by mountains and overlooking a river, it was mesmerizing.

“Dad is this what heaven would look like?” I asked.

“No my child… but this is the closest picture which one could draw of heaven.” He replied.

At a tender age of twelve, I was seldom aware of the bitter ironies of life. Yet, there was a teeming sensation in my heart about this place: the coruscating beauty, the slithering calmness, the soothing paranoia…all an embodiment of fascination. Anyways, the clear etched up memoirs profusely permeate my mundane anorexia…

My father (not a doctor by profession; yet a true patron of community service), together with a group of doctors had set up a free three day medical clinic at the village. During those three days; I made this place my home: setting up friendships with the children there and their teachers at the primary school. The children here were different from children in the adjoining areas. There was something different about them: not the strange innocent aura that imbued their souls, rather it was something more complex. They dared! Dared to go after what they desired; so passionate about their aspirations, their minds teeming with eccentric ideas. One wanted to be a doctor, another a pilot…and even some dared to desire about becoming the leaders of Pakistan in future!

Overjoyed I was to see such passion thrive in difficult circumstances: and yet, as they say, every high eventually wears off: my joy was occluded by bitter realities that awaited these innocent angels. Having only a small primary school in the village, and given the financial situation of the people (as majority of them living here were small farmers), I could not help but feel sorry for them, for I could foresee many dreams being shattered by only a slight misfortune. I left the place with a heavy heart, hoping that some day I could return as an accomplished and powerful individual, having the ability to change shattered lives forever….


October 8th 2005…

Indian Territory…

Philosophers have always said that an irony can destroy all happiness in a single fleeting moment of regret. Today I felt different…I had sensed misfortunes lurking in the shadows; ready to attack; ready to destroy; to give sorrows; to annihilate joy.

Leading my college hockey side against the inter-school champions of India was not an easy task. Yet, by virtue of passion, belief and a brilliant team effort, we emerged victorious after an intense and fiery battle on the hockey field. Nothing; I felt, could make me happier than winning this match. The elation slowly gave way to utmost celebration and jubilation…

Northern Pakistan…

Misfortune had finally struck. The ground bucked and shuddered…mountains transformed into cradled wool; buildings snapped into two. There were screams all around: people running, searching haplessly for mercy. Children buried alive under the debris; the old erupting into a silent prayer of repentance…

Chaos brought destruction; it brought tears; it brought cries; it brought bloodshed.

Yet: there was no mercy. Nature had struck, destroying millions of homes, killing thousands, rendering some homeless…all hapless, hungry and weak. Within a fleeting flicker of the eye, everything was gone. Eternal darkness enveloped the once mystified portrayal of philosophical befuddlements…

Indian Territory:

Jubilation was short lived. Within minutes, the news of a 7.8 magnitude earthquake striking northern Punjab was announced. The news brought with it fear, remorse and sorrow. The tour was cut short; and we were on our way back toward our beloved homeland. Yet, no one was prepared for the catastrophe we were about to witness…


BALAKOT: 2006;

The world is filled with endless possibilities that can happen, they are so endless that Babies can be born, rain can fall from the sky, the wind can blow through your hair, the sun can rise and you can feel the warmth on your face but also Tidal waves can form, Earth Quakes can happen and Material objects can be destroyed including the bodies of human beings. There is no bargain or deal to be made with the endless possibilities and there is no reason, what is, is what must be.

I was part of an independent relief operation organized by the United Nations, volunteering to bring immediate help to the severely affected regions by the earthquake. What I remember vividly brings tears to my eyes: debris all around; there was no sign of any solid structure standing firm against nature’s fierce power. There was haplessness: people crying hither and thither, some searching for food, others for shelter…some injured critically, vying for medical support; others just lay silent: their eyes open, their faces pale…motionless, deprived of the very essence of life: it was a tragic death that had been written for them. Yet, there was a lot to be done; a lot to be accomplished. It was a race against time. As bitter ironies of nature’s helm had been exposed, the reality had started to bed in. Innocent lives had to be saved: more was needed…

There was something other than destruction that had struck me during those precious moments at Balakot. Mankind unites in face of calamity was what I’d always heard. A perfect example of this unfolded before my very eyes: people had forgotten about the wide expanse of moral, social, cultural and ethical differences and gulfs between each other. People from different



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