Saturday, June 04, 2005

What was my fault?

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Its time to move up, do something, and not just sit around condemning the acts of barbarism that we have witnessed. I got this in my inbox, and I must say, it conveys very effectively the thoughts of the innocent people caught in the brawl.

What Was My Fault?

I worked as a janitor to support my family, for a company, which originated in the States. The pay was better than what I could earn in similar capacity anywhere else. I was provided a square meal everyday and the people I worked with, Pakistanis, were very caring and supportive. Nobody discriminated or treated me differently due to my job and the fact that I am a Christian. I had joined the company two days ago.

Now as I hide, trembling in a walk-in refrigerator, from mindless people who have set the building on fire, I think of my family. The little sister who took great delight in a treat at the restaurant, especially the goody bag for children. My brother, who was rather proud of the fact that I had a job and was finally getting my life in order. My parents who anxiously waited for me after late night shifts and the questions they bombarded me with about my new job.

These thoughts are no longer consequential, as I lay charred among the debris of the restaurant. A soul deprived of its vessel. I had no allegiances or religious affiliations. A last question lingers with my departing breath to the arsonists - what was my fault?

I had joined KFC as team member about two weeks a go. I was finally getting the hang of the new job. Training and orientation were over and I had started to enjoy the work and the environment. I took great pride in interacting with the customers. Their smiles were immensely rewarding. I was looking forward to quickly progressing through the ranks.

It was Monday night; I had just finished my magrhib prayers, when the world went wild. Glass started shattering around me and people who seem well organized, and carrying containers of petroleum set my world on fire. In panic I ran to the only hiding space available, the walk-in refrigerator. I saw my colleagues there already suffering from smoke. I thought of turning back but was trapped. There was no way the mob was going to let us get out. Soon the choking smoke became a secondary consideration as the heat increased and flames started to lap at the opening of the doorframe. The flames caught on and as I painfully wasted away, all I could think of - what was my fault?

I am part of the maintenance team, my specialization is in refrigeration, Iwas visiting the Gulshan restaurant on routine trouble shooting of the walk-in refrigerator. Little I knew that it would become crypt. I had a lovely wife and children,my only regret with the job was that due to emergencies and timings I did not spend much time with them. Something, which I will never forgive myself for. As it is I can no longer spend any time with them. While my body blazed, I kept thinking of this and the fact that - what was my fault.

We are the security guards; we work for an agency, which is employed by KFC for their restaurants throughout Pakistan. They are good clients, we use to get good food and there are no major problems. Our job was to watch out for crime and protect the patrons. There were three of us. All our training had not prepared us for what transpired the other night. We were outnumbered completely and had to restrain ourselves from using our weapons. Unfortunately, the mob had no such considerations. They were out to maim and destroy. Our only option was to hide that we did, but could not from the flames, which completely gutted the building. As our body burns to ashes - the only thought is - what was our fault.

Whose fault was it then? The mindless mob, whose education and training dictates that any wrong, whoever the perpetrator can only be set right by the taking of life, incinerating property and injuring the innocent. I think even animals are better; they only kill for a purpose and not as a sport or protest. Six innocent lives lost through no fault of their own. The company may be able to compensate financially, but will the organizations which organize senseless acts of suicide bombings and destruction of life and property bring the bereaved families their sons and brothers back? Can they replace all the experiences, thoughts and process, desires, hopes, love that shaped these individuals and was part of their divine creation and a right? I do not think so!

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