Thursday, February 23, 2012

Sayra's Story: surviving a terrorist blast in Islamabad

By Sayra Mobeen, Student BBA (Honors), Islamic International University Islamabad 

The morning of 20 0ctober 2009 was a delightful one for me, but not for my country. I was happy to go to university and see my friends, entirely forgetful of the years of unending dilemma and constant threat of terrorism in Pakistan.

I have never been a keen follower of the news, and that is why I could never relate to the pain people faced after a bomb blast, or after losing a loved one in a terrorist attack. However, I was not aware that my perspective was about to change.

The twin blasts that hit my University that day changed my life, as it was the first strike that targeted female students in Islamabad. This incident left a very deep effect on my life, and brought me face to face with a disaster which in its wake entailed numerous challenges for me. Sadly I was a victim of that incident and have been lucky to survive to tell my story.

I remember that day after classes, I came back to my hostel room at about 2:45 pm. My friend Umme Kalsoom came by and asked me to accompany her to the cafeteria, so I got up and we left together.We went to the cafeteria fruit shop but they were sold out of fruit. I don’t recall why we were in such a hurry that day, we both ignored our classmates who were sitting outside asking us to join them, and rushed into the main cafeteria hall.

We bought some snacks and sat inside the café on the left side of the hall, it didn't even cross our mind to join our friends outside. A moment later, we realized that we had forgotten to buy soft drinks so I went to get some.While walking back to our table, I suddenly heard a dreadful sound, and was surrounded by smoke as my ears quickly deafened. I felt as if I had been hit by something horrible. I suddenly became disoriented and fell down to the floor.

A girl fixes flowers next to the picture of three students who were killed in a bomb blast at the International Islamic University in 2009. PHOTO: MUHAMMAD JAVAID, Tribune.

A sudden rush of pain made me realize I was hurt. I could feel the pain on my body, arms, legs, forehead and chest. Later, I found out that the major injuries I received were on my chest.

I thanked God I was conscious, and tried to walk away from the cafeteria to save myself, but couldn't. I then saw my friends looking for me; my shirt was covered in blood from the wounds on my head and chest. When Umme Kulsoom saw me in this critical condition she started crying. I asked her to look for my cell phone which I had lost in the blast so I could call my family and reassure them. She asked a female employee of the café to look after me while she went to look for help.

I felt more afraid of the blast than of my injuries. The café staff told me I had severe injuries and that I had to go to the hospital. They tried to put me in a taxi but I refused to go alone. The staff then left me and walked away, this hurt me even more. I thought of my family and friends and started to cry.

When my friends finally found me, I was in a great deal of pain. They took me to the Pakistan Institute of Medical Sciences. The doctors decided to undertake immediate surgery because of the serious nature of my injuries. I was very worried knowing that my family was not with me, and I did not know what would be the result of the operation. But that is perhaps what saved my life.

After initial treatment in the PIMS and in view of the nature of my injuries, I was sent to the Combined Military Hospital at Mangla Cantonment for treatment. I underwent treatment at Mangla and suffered lots of pain and surgical interventions, for approximately four months. During this period my family and I suffered a lot, as they had to arrange for a place to live in Mangla, and commute from Abbottabad to Mangla regularly.

My injuries were similar to the injuries that soldiers receive in the battle field. The doctors at Mangla tried very hard to remove the pieces of shrapnel from my body, but even then, they could not remove it all. Some non-life-threatening pieces of the material that was used in the suicide jacket are still in my body, and will remain in me for life. It hurts at times, but at least I am alive!

As I said I did not pay attention to news of bomb blasts when I saw it on television or read about it in the newspapers, therefore I could never truly comprehend the pain of others; especially those who suffered during terrorist or suicide attacks. But since my ordeal, I can recognize the pain and difficulties of survivors and victims’ like me, and I can connect with them and help them in their recovery from trauma.

This unpleasant incident did not close the door of life on me; it just showed me the unpleasant direction that life can take sometimes. I am happy, and grateful to God that I am back to my normal life, thanks to my family, friends, and many other people who helped me recover. This experience has strengthened my belief that obstacles only make you a stronger and more determined person. As we say in Pakistan: “ Obstacles come into your life to polish you, and turn you into a strong and shiny diamond”.

Islamic International University, Islamabad

1 comment:

  1. The fastest way to change society is to mobilize the women of the world. Let's work together to achieve this goal.
    pakistani politician of islamabad


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