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The unlit candles and the shining stars

Were they like the unlit candles? They would have lit this world by their smiles, their innocence, their aims and ambitions. Were they the flowers which were not allowed to blossom?

Shakespeare said life has 7 stages,

“All the world’s a stage,
And all the men and women merely players.
They have their exits and their entrances,
And one man in his time plays many parts,
His acts being seven ages”

He lied!

They were never given the chance to express themselves, and the world has been deprived of some exceptional talent. They were not allowed to fulfill their dreams.

I and my wife were as grief struck as anyone should be after witnessing the events of Peshawar tragedy on 16 December, 2014. There could be many reasons but somehow the grief has not lessened much over the last month. Maybe it is because we have kids of our own, maybe it was the gruesome nature of the brutality, maybe because we both graduated from Army Public Schools, whatever it was – we still feel sad. With the wave of terror in Pakistan for the last 10 or so years, we have grown insensitive, we feel sad for some time and then move on with our lives as if nothing happened, but this was different. Even after a month of the incident, we still feel the pain. We wanted to do something that could help but being so far away only meant that all we could do was mere consolation to each other. We also witnessed the candle light vigils that were held in various parts of the world and when it came close to the monthly anniversary of the event, my wife decided that we will have our own in Philadelphia. The purpose was simple, we just wanted to share the grief with our friends and pay tributes to those innocent kids.

We had never done anything like this before and for once we decided to brush aside our laziness. We gathered at the famous LOVE Park in Philadelphia. When we reached there with some of our committed friends, it was below freezing. Some of our friends could not reach due to exceptionally cold weather. It was by far the coldest night of the winter. The winds were fast and no one could light the candles. We tried and tried, with match sticks, with lighter, keeping a cup on candles, giving them protection from winds but we just could not light the candles in such strong winds. It then struck me; the kids were probably like these candles. They were the unlit candles. An old white man came to my wife with a candle in his hand and said, “I have been waiting here since 6 PM and I am totally committed to the cause but it’s too cold”. My wife thanked him and in the end we offered prayers for the kids and adults and departed.









We will never be able to see them again; their parents will never see them again. Their premature departure from this world has brought tears to millions but no amount of sorrow could bring them back. Their parents will continue to think of them whenever they will see any kid of their age, whenever they will see someone wearing the green jacket of Army Public school, whenever there will be anything remotely relevant to them. They will never be able to forget and forgive, and a constant state of grief will continue to engulf them, probably till they are alive.

Disappointed that we could not light the candles, when we were about to reach home, my daughter who is young enough to have just started talking, said, “oh Look, Stars”. There were some shinning stars in the sky at that time and my daughter kept pointing at each of them. I consoled myself that they were not like candles which could be extinguished; they were like the stars that will remain forever. They will never be forgotten. They have at least to some extent changed the course of a nations thought process. With their light, they have brought awareness and understanding to millions. They may have changed the course of history. They have introduced new subjects in poetry, music and literature. They are not the unlit candles, they are the stars. Stars will shine every night.

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