I was told she didn't make it, and that her mother is in critical condition as well.
Before I even knew who, my knees buckled at the thought of another life lost...and I clutched my phone, knuckles white - waiting in line for something, I shrieked and quickly forgot where I was and what I was supposed to be doing.
As the victim's name was revealed to me, my heart sank...my mind couldn't process that this was someone I knew online. An activist, a thinker, a person who cared about the country she lived in - the country in which we are increasingly herded towards apathy.
Pak-is-tan. The land of the 'pure'.
Never was there a sicker joke...than the meaning of Pakistan itself.
We are pushed towards not caring, so we can leave it to the vultures...to do with it as they will. It'll be easier when we no longer put up a fight...
They already outnumber those left with a human heart.
There is a dwindling group of people who dare to ask questions, who dare to want discussions, conversations...these people are killed off one by one, quite systematically. The rest are broken down by fear.
Sabeen Mahmud and I did not know each other well, except for a few emails and maybe some tweets exchanged. She expressed to me that she liked my children's book, we talked about the fun design of her website...it was a breath of fresh air, as was her organization I hear. T2F (the second floor) was a space for learning and discussion, for art, books, music and creativity. Truly one of it's kind in a country where so much of this is taboo.
Our conversations were light and pleasant. She was always kind to me, never treated me like the untouchable that many Pakistanis do...she was open-minded and a gentle soul. Never confrontational to anyone, just happy to provide a space for discussion and a platform for social change.
It was that space for conversation that proved intolerable. Right after hosting a discussion on "unsilencing" Balochistan, she was silenced.
|An image from the discussion hosted by her...posted on her instagram a few hours before her death|
Unsilencing Balochistan (Take 2) with Wusat Ullah Khan, Mama Qadeer, Farzana Baloch and Mir Mohammad… https://t.co/k5W35d8XGb
— Sabeen Mahmud (@sabeen) April 24, 2015
|"A pair of sandals lies amid broken glass in a car after the murder of Sabeen" from Dawn.com|
I won't go into the the complex conflicts within our country that I do not fully understand myself, I won't go into the conspiracy theories that are emerging... but I will say this;
Everything points to the fact that she was killed because she was hosting the wrong kind of discussion.
But who are we kidding, pretty much any honest discussion is wrong there.
Pakistan is a country where terrorists can find safety and protection, but regular, honest, decent people cannot.
What do we do if it's not just the terrorists terrorizing us?
Who did this? I don't know...but whoever it was, managed to knock down yet another pillar of 'progressive Pakistan', not long till it's entirely demolished...
Ask yourselves this, dear fellow-Pakistanis, do we value the askers-of-questions, the starters-of-discussions in life...or do we only care to mourn them once they are gone?
Sabeen's emails in my inbox are a treasure that leave a void in my heart. The plans for a Skype conversation that never happened are a lost opportunity I regret very much. If only I had tried harder to find the time.
With every person killed for doing something that pushes boundaries...it hits home. When it's a person in Pakistan, a person I knew...it hits harder. I will not be silenced by this, but I cannot help being terrified. And I cannot help being terrified even more for Pakistanis who still reside there, who have no way out of there...I am scared for the journalists, the bloggers, the apostates, the dissenters of any sort. All of you, please be safe...
My thoughts are with you Sabeen, I never met you...but feel your loss immensely. You were a force that dared to make change, and you touched so many people's lives. You will not be forgotten. The sheer number of online tributes prove that.