A small girl who I will call Hina, sits perched on a stool, in the one corner of the living room untouched by the light streaming in from a procession of windows. Everything else is astir; rattling like an incongruous soundtrack to her solitude.
She is the most arresting seven-year-old I have ever seen. Even in the shadows, her face glows with the faint brilliance of a candle on its final flicker.
I call to her and she approaches me with the gentle quietness that attends her every movement. Following a muffled exchange of hellos we stumble into a conversational impasse and her grandmother laughs at the sight of our awkwardness.
Thankfully a scrap of paper comes into view like a floating bridge, ready to span the distance of age and discrepancy that separates us.
With my limited origami skills I set out to make a rather frayed and droopy paper tulip. It is a sorry looking thing, but it helps us connect and she graciously accepts my offering before disappearing behind a curtain.
I feel wretched in her absence – nothing I can do can erase the many traumas she has seen, for Hina is a living ghost, a forgotten remnant of the 2010 Lahore massacre on two Ahmadi places of worship which occurred just over five years ago. Continue reading