Of Journalism

January 7, 2009

Horrors of War

Filed under: Uncategorized — fawadalishah @ 9:29 pm

7-year-old traumatised by horrors of war

KARACHI: Rooh-ul-Amin, 7, is sitting in a room of his uncle’s mud made house at the Khan Abad residency of Landhi, with his hands and feet shackled to his bed. The small room holds a shattered bed and two broken chairs. It looks like the room has never been painted. A single bulb is the only source of light in the dingy room, which does not even have a proper ventilation system. He suddenly starts shouting, “Save me mother, save me.” However, his words no longer attract anyone’s attention, as the residents of the house have gotten used to these sudden random spells.

“He has lost his senses,” his father Ameer Khan said, narrating his child’s sorrow tale to Daily Times.

Amin is one of the hundreds of victims of the terrorist activities in the war-torn Bajaur agency of the Federally Administered Tribal Area (FATA).

Amin has one sibling who is younger than he is. He was like any other child, without a care in the world but suddenly a war broke out in his area and soon peace was unheard of. “He loved going to school, where he could read and play,” said Khan, while gripping Amin’s face lightly. Everyday he would kiss his mother good-bye while charming her out of Rs 2 to spend on his way to school.

Amin used to carry ‘parathas’ with him for lunch and loved ‘aalo ghosht’, his father said.

He would play ‘gulli dandha’, ‘aankh macholi’ and sometimes ‘langri pala’, with his friends in the open fields. He was not aware of the Taliban or the horror attached with their name, said Khan.

“As Amin would get in to bed he would narrate his day to us, describing each and every detail,” his father said. While he dreamt, he unconsciously called out the names of his friends, laughed and kicked. When he had nightmares, he would call his mother and cling to her, says his father, who owned a shop in Bajaur, but now a days, he is roaming about searching for a job in Karachi.

Sadly, the government started an operation against the terrorists in the area. Ironically as retaliation, the terrorists started blowing up schools. As the intensity of the war in the area increased, the child’s behaviour changed. The burst of rifles and the thundering sounds of bomb blasts started taking their toll on the children. One morning when Amin was in school a rocket landed on the building, his father said with a tear escaping his eyes. The building burst into flames. Some students died whereas some escaped. Amin was lucky enough to be among those who escaped. However, the damage was done and Amin lost his senses. He was not the same child who sang songs for his mother. He could not play, as he forgot what games were. Zarmeena, his mother, went into a coma, after looking at his miserable condition.

After my wife recovered from the coma, we decided to leave the area for good, said his father.

They came to Karachi, where Amin’s maternal uncle was living. His uncle’s house is not properly made. It has two rooms, out of which one has been reserved for the displaced family. His father still does not have a job and his otherwise conservative mother is ready to work as a maid to earn some money.

Amin continues to dream but now he sees butchered friends and his destroyed school, “Save me mother, save me,” he shouts, the fact that he cannot even identify his mother now does not matter.

Though his parents have lost all hopes that their son will be normal again, psychologists are of a different opinion. Institute of Behavior Psychology Head Habiba Habib said that due to heavy explosions, continuous firing, children and even older people go into trauma and their nerves do not support their actions.

“Such problems are worrisome but can be treated,” the psychiatrist said, adding that it takes longer for children to recover. “The problem can be sorted out by counseling and medication,” she advises.

“We use therapeutics, to help the victims forget the memories and then use other tactics,” she said, “however sometimes traumas leave lasting effects on personalities.” His parents do not feel the need to consult a doctor for his treatment because for now they are still looking for means to earn their bread and butter in the so-called city of lights.

“With our present financial conditions, we hardly have enough money for food,” said Khan.

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