I Left Pakistan for My Daughter’s Safety
By Sarah Suhail
This is one of the most difficult stories I’ve ever written. It’s because I’m about to bash a country, a home that I truly love. But, for better or worse, these words need to be spoken, and this story needs to be heard. – Even if it is simply to tell those who are in Pakistan that I worry for you and for all the children. I worry about where the country is headed, and what opportunities are being taken away from the next generation.
For a very long time, we never wanted to leave the country. It was my home after all. But the decision to leave Pakistan was made one evening when we were coming back from the beach. It had been a gorgeous, rainy Karachi day – with just enough sun and clouds to bring a little piece of heaven to the side of the ocean. All of that changed on the way back home when we got stuck in a roadblock. Two boys had been kidnapped in this particularly rough neighbourhood due to a political rivalry.
Now my family was in two cars. We were two elders who had trouble walking, four kids and seven adults. The protestors blocked the roads off and began to burn truck tires close to us. Soon enough, the smell of burning rubber started coming into our cars and then came the aerial firing. If you’ve never been in such a situation you cannot imagine the painfully loud sounds of repeated gun fires. You can, however, imagine the fear that these sounds plant in the minds of children.
I put my daughter on the floor of the car, my cousin put her son on the floor, and we covered them with our bodies. Just in case a stray bullet came flying through the roof. That was the day I said to my husband,”Enough. It’s time to find a way out.”
After this incident, we went through a number of dangerous situations that people in Karachi have accepted as part of their daily lives. In most other countries, you’d think these things only happened in the movies. Once, there was a target killing at the gate of my daughter’s school. Another time, my husband and parents were held at gunpoint in our driveway, just as Aaliyah was about to go out and meet them. I can’t even count the number of times my husband couldn’t leave the office because it was just too dangerous. To receive calls from a loved one and hear gun fire in the background is just not something you want to experience on a regular basis.
We got lucky that our Canadian immigration came through before something worse happened. Many people in Pakistan have drawn a line in their minds – one which dictates when they’ve had enough. There are also the very brave and possibly stubborn optimists who have accepted that they are going to live and die in a country that is as volatile as the sun’s surface, The way I see it, sending a child to school in Pakistan is no less than fighting in the front lines of any war.
Can you even imagine what it’s like sending your most precious belonging, your child, to a place where terrorist organizations have clearly said they would target? The bravest people I know, whose job dictates that they remain strong when things get tough, no longer know what to say to make others feel hopeful and courageous.
Everyone I know back home accepts the situation they’re in and makes the absolute best of it. After all, the kids have to go to school, the parents to work – life has to go on.
I know from experience that in a city like Karachi, the fear of going out can cripple you. And if you let it, you live in fear of negatively affecting the development of your child’s confidence. It’s a real struggle: the pull of keeping everyone safe versus making the most out of a difficult situation. To everyone living there, especially my family and friends, you’re always in my thoughts – even if we don’t talk, even if I’m half a world away – I write this in honour of you. To let the world know how unbelievable brave you all are, every minute of every day.
More about the Author
Sarah Suhail is a momma of two – one on earth and one in heaven. She’s gone from being a teacher to a social media and human resource strategist with many professions in between. Writing started off as a passion to connect with awesome people around the globe. Her mommy blogging revolves around rediscovering the world through her daughters eyes by finding dragons in the clouds and painting fairy houses for their garden. She has written for tech giants, global consultants and writes for two of her own blogs: Trippy Traingle and JigsawHR. When not writing she’s crocheting, baking, drawing and watching cartoons with her daughter.
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