Lambs to the slaughter

The Friday Times | Imaduddin Ahmed
meets the family of Nadeem, a victim of Basant

Akhtar Bibi will be thinking of her son on his first death anniversary

Dr Ajaz Anwar’s impression impression of Basant as it was decades ago

Spring fesitvals celebrate fertility, birth and renewal. Basant, for some families, is different. This year Akhtar Bibi and her family will be marking the first year death anniversary of their son, Nadeem Pasha, who would now be 19.

On 26th February 2006, Nadeem, the youngest of eight brothers and sisters, ventured into Lahore with friends from Chung village off Multan Road. This was the second of 14 days that the Supreme Court lifted its ban on kites that year. He was going to Gulshan-e-Iqbal. He was in a very happy mood when he went out. ‘I told Ami, “Look, he has no worries. We didn’t stop him because he was a good boy,”‘ says one of his tearful sisters. That was the last time Nadeem’s family saw him alive.

When Nadeem’s mother reached Sheikh Zayed Hospital that evening, her son had been dead for two hours. According to doctors, his throat had been slit by a metal kite wire while riding on a motorcycle driven by his friend in Allama Iqbal Town.

“No one can replace him,” laments his sister. “He lived life like a prince. He enjoyed food, he had good taste in clothes. He was very popular at school and in our village because he was always ready to help and serve people. At home, he was always the one to greet everyone first in the morning. He wanted a very different life from his parents and he wanted to care for them. He wanted to go into banking and do an MBA,” she says of her favourite brother, a first divisioner in his Matric exam and an Intermediate of Commerce student at Quaid-e-Azam College Ichra, Lahore.

“The Chief Minister’s Secretary offered us several lakhs. We don’t want money,” says Akhtar Bibi indignantly, “We have money. We don’t have Nadeem. We want our Nadeem back.”

Nadeem’s story is not unique. Reports say that upto 600 people have been killed or wounded when their throats were cut by razor-sharp kite twine.

Other cultures hold the lamb as a symbol of the coming of spring. The coming of Basant also makes Nadeem’s family think of lambs – à la Bakr Eid.

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