The Other Side of the World: Vigil for Peshawar
By: Noreen Sajwani
December 18, 2014
“Let’s rep the P,” she said in a text message that made me realize there was no getting out of this. I would have to attend the vigil in Red Square later that evening to pray for Peshawar, not just because it was where my identity lay, but because it was what was expected of me. I didn’t actually want to go; I did just fine sitting in my bed, watching TV post-finals in my stress-free apartment, not thinking about the horrible attacks around the world fueled by deep-seated hatred and ignorance—but then my best friend texted me asking if I was going with her. She was from India, and if she could take the time out to support the cause, so could I.
I arrived at Red Square at 8 p.m., not actually aware of what goes on at a vigil. I saw candles, a group of people, and some people holding candles. I didn’t really understand, so I stood in the back in silence, closed my eyes, folded my hands, and prayed. Ya Allah, Ya Muhammad, Ya Ali. It was simple, easy, and my favorite prayer, calling upon Allah, the Prophet, and Imam Ali. I opened my eyes to people shuffling around and placing candles around the tree. I decided to make my way closer and now stood in the center of the circle, where I closed my eyes and continued praying. When I opened my eyes, the Red Square tree was covered with candles and people hugging one another. One of my friends came up to me and gave me a hug. When I went to go hug her back, I couldn’t seem to let go of the embrace. Nestled under my chin, there she sat as I cried my eyes out at how these tragic events affected my family.
Both of my parents live in Karachi, Pakistan, and although the Peshawar incident occurred on the other side of the country, it hit close to home because of what I knew this meant for my parents—more fear. Fear of leaving the house to go get groceries because the streets were filled with fire and raging protesters, fear of going to prayer services because this meant leaving the house again to cross the street, and most of all, fear of not knowing what would happen to their lives at any given moment in time. The last of these is what brought on the tears for me and allowed me to fully mourn the loss of the innocent children in Peshawar. It is with a heavy heart that I look out onto the other side of the world and try to seek out the hope that lays within all of these fears.