I'm shocked. And I'm shocked that I'm shocked. One would think that when you routinely come face-to-face with bomb blast after bomb blast. When so many of them target sufi shrine, this particular debacle - though tragic - would not be wholly unexpected. Except it was. I suppose, from an objective point of view, it's interesting how quickly humanity can be lulled into complacency.
Two bombs. Sixty injured. Over ten dead. I just saw pictures taken at the base of the steps of the mazaar. Pictures that show empty grey concrete strewn with streaks of red, and pieces of what looks like human flesh scattered here and there. I remember looking up at those steps with something akin to wonder, when I spent some time at the mazaar almost five years ago. I remember talking to almost every vendor that sat at the base of the steps asking them what they did, who they sold their wares to and what the significance of each little memento was. I distinctly remember, a little silver cradle that mothers would buy if they wanted a child. I wonder if any of the people who died today were clutching a little silver cradle.
I remember walking up those crowded steps-that-never seemed to end and being struck by the sheer number of people who came by to pay their respects to the saint-by-the-sea. The legend of Abdullah Shah Gazi has always fascinated me. They say that as long as the saint sleeps by our side, Karachi will never be victim to storm of the sea. Does this still hold true, now that his sleep has been disturbed? Are you still with us patron saint, even though we've desecrated your house and committed murder at your doorstep?
It's funny, but the one memory that I just keep thinking off, over-and-over is of this man who we saw walk up and then down the steps of the mazaar on his knees. I remember wondering what it was he wanted so badly. And hoping that his devotion would lead to wish fulfillment. I wonder if he was one of the people who decided to come pay his respects today, on a Thursday night. I wonder if he died too.
Regret would be too mild a word to describe what I feel after today's incident. I don't know about you, but I'm sure that there is a particularly repulsive corner of hell reserved for those people who victimize the innocent. Who kill, maim and injure simply because they cannot tolerate difference.
I'm horrified. And I'm angry. But I'm impotent. And helpless.
As are you.