It’s not his real name; that would be too cruel. He is an 8 year old Pakistani who was playing in the Lahore Park when it was attacked by a bomb the other day. He lost a leg and his left hand and had serious damage to his left side. His mind, at least physically, is intact and he is out of the makeshift intensive care unit that a local hospital set up to deal with the injured.
Both Fahad’s parents were killed in the bombing. An aunt who was with them survived but was seriously injured. She is expected to live. Several of Fahad’s friends were killed, others injured, some beyond recognition. Fahad is already thinking about who he will live with, at least until his aunt is well enough to care for him. Fahad is a bright child and his mind is clear except for the moment of the explosion which he can barely recall. He is a little deaf from it.
What this attack has done to Fahad’s thinking, and to that of his friends who survived or who were not at the scene, we shall only know in years to come. For now, the efforts of all those dedicated people around Fahad are directed to making him fit and able to cope physically with life as well as may be possible. With his sparky and optimistic view Fahad will live a useful and fulfilled life. Sooner or later he must come to terms with his attackers.
What will his approach be then? Revenge? A life dedicated to educating people to the consequences of dogmatic violence? A philosopher helping others to unravel the seeming inconsistencies between differing Gods? Perhaps Fahad will become a guru helping his followers to cope with the bitter cup of life against which their lips will often be pressed.
However Fahad deals with his traumatic life change he will surely work out for himself what system of teaching, of justice and of punishment will be most suitable to acknowledge the people whose lives are so brutally disrupted. He may decide that bombers should be killed and who could criticise him for that. He may conclude, on the other hand, that if those same bombers should have thought before killing, so should he – and we. Cold blooded usually means hot blooded – and he will surely recognise the dangers of acting in those conditions.
In many ways Fahad is fortunate. He is alive, his mind is intact, he will be helped to deal with his disabilities. At eight you are on the threshold of life and to be made aware of how precious a gift it is, even if such awareness comes from demoniacal violence, is a great lesson. If the world treats Fahad kindly now he may repay that kindness with wisdom.
We often say that the world does not owe us – or anyone else – a living. Most of the time that is right. For Fahad and his injured friends the world does owe them a living. For it is the world that has brought them to their present plight.
And the world must repair that.
This parable is not a plea for money but for love. Love does involve money, of course, but it involves much more. And we can express it on our doorstep today.