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December 23, 2010

‘The fight becomes tough for my family’

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December 23, 2010

Aishah, our youngest was Masood’s favourite. For years after Masood’s disappearance, I would find her weeping behind a door or on the bed. Masood’s picture would be under her pillow and her bedroom door was full of pictures of Masood with the children. I have done everything in my power to give her solace and comfort, but nothing can fill the void left by her father’s absence. Adding to her frustration is the fact that years of struggling and protesting have borne no fruit. I did everything I could for her solace, peace and comfort, but I know the void of a loving father’s absence… a very strong sense of deprivation, the longing for his pampering care and love was always hurting Aishah. I could not take away from her frustration and anger at our struggle producing no result as far as her Abbu was concerned – the unparalleled grief and pain of it all.
The boys have grown from adolescence to manhood without their father’s loving presence and guidance. I have always felt that, no matter how much I take care of them, I will never be able to replace their father who they idolised.
Holidays such as Eid are especially difficult. We go through those days reminiscing – remembering his jokes, enthusiasm, laughter, love and affection. Masood greatly enjoyed the festivities surrounding Ramazan. His favourite things to eat for Iftar were jalebi and fruit chaat. I would make sure he got what he wanted. For Eid, we would secretly buy gifts for all the children, his parents and family and hide them, only to have the children find them on Eid morning. When the children discovered their gifts, we would hear them jumping around with joy.
Now my Eids are spent with me locked up in the bathroom weeping endlessly, saying in my heart: “O Allah when, will you return me my love! My Masood! When, O Allah, when! I can’t take it any more. Oh, please my Lord, have mercy I am weak...I can’t stand up to your trial...”
The fight and financial

crises getting tough: On Oct 2, the Joint Investigation Team assigned to his case reported that Masood is not with the agencies. This was a categorical denial, brutal lies in the face of a great deal of evidence. This is injustice and torture to the family.
What further aggravated us was the deepening financial crisis we now faced. For years I have tried to support the poorer families whose members have gone missing and have contributed every last penny saved to advance the cause of the missing. But now all resources are drained. I helped the poor, deserving families whose bread-winners were picked up and they were left devastated without any means of living at all. I knew their pain and suffering too well, and that is why, out of my passionate concern, I could do anything for them
For my family’s survival, we depended on the computer college Masood managed. On Sept 29, it was locked up for our failure to pay a year’s rent. The emotional and financial pressure upon us is almost unbearable and continuation of this fight has become ever more difficult.
My children now in their teens need to be educated, groomed and properly fed and clothed. The old bedridden parents-in-law have to be taken care of. Home, expenses, such as bills, car, fuel, maintenance, college feels, salaries and rent have to be met.
Despite everything, I cannot give up. The missing persons’ cause must be advanced. People respect me for the courage and determination I have shown over the years of turmoil. They respect me for advancing human rights in the country and I have to live up to their expectations. However, the physical, emotional and financial toll it has taken on my life is something not a lot of people know about.
Every now and then I am confronted with the unbearable memories of my sons being ruthlessly beaten on the streets and my little girl fainting out of fear of being separated from her brothers. And yet, this callous government looks on and fails to act.
My physical health has also deteriorated considerably. My migraines have become worse, my blood pressure is at dangerously high levels, and sometimes I find it difficult to breathe. For months I have not visited the doctor. I write this article not so that I may be pitied. I am proud of all that has been accomplished with respect to the recovery of the missing persons. The world over, people know about our cause and the hypocrisy of our government that fails to address our plight.
The answer to my acute distress, I found the same day in the evening. After Maghreb prayer I prayed to my Creator earnestly, I asked my Lord for mercy, forgiveness, guidance and help. I asked for courage and determination to go on fighting and never to give up. I thanked Him for the love and respect He had given me, for the honour of having impossible tasks done by me. All of a sudden my heart was full of peace, contentment and gratitude in the same way as my eyes were full of tears in the morning.
The answer is to bow down before the Almighty Lord and ask Him! He will answer and never let us go astray, Inshallah, He will never let our struggles go waste. He is the Greatest Judge.
We are not yet united with Masood, but we are determined to continue the struggle of the loved ones snatched from their families, to work even harder, not to give up on any front. We are confident, having a firm belief that the blissful day of our reunion is not far off.

The writer is chairperson of Defence of Human Rights. Email: [email protected]

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