This is what the war does to children: it robs them of their innocence
I have thought quite a bit about whether to post this story. Its possibly one of the most heartrending reports about the impact of suicide bombings on Pakistan, where a suicide bomber seems to blow himself up on an almost daily basis. But in the midst of the inane debates and Denialistan and the general sense of ‘how the hell do we get out of this situation?!’, does anyone realize what is happening to the children of this beleaguered country?
Eight-year-old Abid Mehmood was sifting through the debris of the bombed market in Pakistan’s north-western city of Peshawar for metal and plastic pieces when he found something unusual – a human eyeball. The remains of a body that the powerful blast might have burnt or even dissolved a day earlier had enough shine and colour to attract the child, who immediately collected it in a plastic bag.
Hours later, he found a plastic jar and dipped the eyeball in the water and started to pick through the rubble to find more.
“I have collected seven eyes but there should be one more. After all, every person has two eyes,” said Mehmood as he showed the jar to a reporter.
“They look beautiful, don’t they?” he said in the Meena Bazaar, the once-busy market where a suicide bomber killed 119 people and injured over 200 on October 28.
Indifference to death is increasingly becoming a defence mechanism for psychologically tormented children in Peshawar, where Taliban have killed several hundred people in dozens of suicide bombings over the last two years.
“We are seeing more and more children who show little reaction to death and the dead ones,” Peshawar-based psychiatrist and social worker Dr Khalid Mufti said.
“The other day an 11-year-old child whose father died and brother lost his legs in a recent blast told me that he was waiting for his turn like everyone else in the town,” added Mufti.
“The kid was smiling. You know, this is what the war does to children: it robs them of their innocence.”