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Friday June 21, 2024

Can blood soothe our scars?

By Ebad Ahmed
December 18, 2015

Karachi

“He was a lost man. He was a bad man. He killed my son, but I don’t want him to die.”

It has been a year and a day since Pakistan went through its darkest hour, the Peshawar school massacre. With over 141 dead, 132 of them innocent children, the wounds remain fresh, the pain permanently insufferable and the angst indescribable.

Something had to be done. The state, which previously appeared confused over how to treat the terrorists to whose skewed ideals it had already lost hundreds of countrymen, this time meant business.

As the power players put their heads together, it was ironic to see the change in the same people who had previously offered terror groups the chance to set up offices in their province, or urged them to spare their dominion as they shared the same ideology with the fighters they had also once called ‘soldiers of peace’.

The National Action Plan was devised. In view of curbing terrorism, a major coordinated state retaliation strategy was put on the table with mass support and the decision to lift the moratorium on the death penalty followed soon after.  

According to statistics compiled by the Justice Project Pakistan, last year alone, over 200 people were sentenced to death and, currently, the state has over 8,000 people on death row for the total of 27 crimes deemed punishable by death in the country.

In such circumstances, the message of ‘Lorilei – A Meditation on Loss’ could not be more relevant.

Based on a real life theme, written by Thomas Wright and directed and performed by Sania Saeed and Nimra Bucha, the play revolves around a sole character, Lorilei, the mother of Jeremy Guillory, who was murdered by a mentally ill person, Ricky Langley. 

During Langley’s second trial, Guillory testified for the defendant, giving her opinion that he was mentally ill at the time of the offence, which turned his death penalty into life imprisonment.  Undoubtedly, the play was afforded a touch of sublimity from the very first second of Nimra Bucha’s appearance on stage. With a powerful script, flawless acting and exceptional direction, Lorilei beautifully unravels a theme which remains intrinsically complex in its nature. 

Perhaps, the main aim of the protagonist was to take the spectators on a pendulum ride of emotions; from the anguish over the loss of a beloved, to the torment of knowing how he was taken away, till the realisation that the perpetrator’s dead body is not the answer to the searing pain.

With their exceptional work, the cast and director effortlessly achieved the first objective of the play, which was to let the audience establish a connection with Lorilei that allowed for reciprocation of emotions and ideas. 

However, for some it was the second part of the performance which would hold greater weight as it aims at sparking societal debate over whether the ‘eye for an eye’ model could ever be an appropriate reaction to such travesties.

The question, though, remains whether a society with a penchant for calls for blood even has the potential to comprehend Lorilei’s rationale.