Pakistan, Dec 16 – Two years ago, Ali Zafar’s son Irshad Hussain narrowly escaped death at the Dec 16 Army Public School attack. After the traumatic ordeal, Hussain was never the same again. A few days back — just as the two-year mark for that horrific day was approaching — he too lost his life.
Ali Zafar is meeting mourners at his Khot Village, Chitral residence. There are no tears in his eyes, but his face indicates that he has not slept for days.
His boy, 16 years of age at the time of attack, was a 6th grader at APS Peshawar. When militants attacked the school he lost 144 of his peers and teachers. Irshad sustained bullet injuries in his right hand, fingers and back.
Irshad’s uncle Hameed Khan recalls how, after the attack, government workers shifted his nephew and other injured children to the Combined Military Hospital (CMH), Peshawar, for treatment.
“He was given full treatment at CMH and discharged after complete recovery,” Hameed adds.
But the hard times were far from over.
“After he was shifted back home we saw changes in Irshad.”
Irshad joined his school again, but would keep to himself. Irshad’s cousin and best friend, Wali, recalled that his sociable and always smiling friend changed forever after the attack. “He started to spend time at his room alone because the massacre had badly affected his mental health,” Wali told Dawn.com.
Irshad developed back pain that continued to worsen with time; he was readmitted to the hospital multiple times over the course of the two years.
The family tried to take many steps to help Irshad cope. He and his parents also performed Umrah under the APS Umrah Package for survivors of the attacks, and also travelled to Dubai along with other students.
All to no avail it seemed.
A year later Irshad finally graduated from APS and could leave behind constant reminders of the massacre. He was one of the 16 students who gained admission to the military college in Murree.
However, instead of improving, Irshad’s health worsened and he started spending more time at hospitals than at school.
“He was very worried about his education but his health did not allow to continue schooling regularly,” Hameed says.
A few days back Ali Zafar received a call from the college administration. Zafar was informed that his son was admitted to a military hospital in Muree, before being shifted to CMH Rawalpindi.
“After staying unconscious for four days he opened his eyes,” Hameed said, but Irshad could not even recognise his own father after regaining consciousness.
After finally being discharged on the doctor’s recommendation, Irshad suddenly fell unconscious again.
“This was his last time we were rushed to his bed, his eyes were closed and he was lying unconscious on the bed,” Hameed said, while his voice was choked and eyes full of tears.
Irshad was pronounced dead approximately 30 minutes later.
The doctors informed the grieving family that Irshad was suffering from haemorrhage and also low production of white blood cells.
Parents and survivors of the deadly Dec 16 continue experiencing severe trauma.
Doctors say that most are suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder, and the recovery process may take years.