For teaching me what it means to be a human being. For jarring me out of my overpriced, overprivileged stupor and reminding me of what’s important. For being the bravest fuckin person I will never meet.
When you’re mentioned in the news or social media it’s to push some narrative or the other: PTI supporters link your death to the drone strikes, anti-PTI supporters to PTI’s lack of action against the Taliban, you are labeled as being so much more heroic than that stupid Malala, the government is blamed for not honoring you fast enough, and on and on, until all possible permutations from within the quagmire of Pakistani politics are exhausted. The media vultures squaw at each other around these issues on their high pitched, rabid talk shows, and ask ‘what more could we have done’, when really all they mean is ‘how do we twist this story to further the narrative we’re getting paid for’. And of course, suicide bombers the world over are way pissed at you.
But that’s typical. Everyone just wants to push forward their own agendas, for which you are but a dead pawn, a talking point, a showpiece. They miss the real magic of what you were all about, because in their insular pursuit of ‘The Story’, they’ve forgotten what humanity means. They obfuscate the real lessons in an attempt to put the next guy down.
Because the truth, at it’s bare-bones, is that you were simply a kid, man. A 9th grader. Yet a total rockstar. I’ve always known people like you were out there, kings and queens and giants amongst men, toiling away in little towns, accepting your lot in life, yet putting the rest of us to total shame just by virtue of your rockstarness. Of course all we can do is chatter about the ‘Big Picture’. We find it too hard to come to terms with the incredible nature of your basic humanity.
You saved your friends by tackling a suicide bomber and forcing him to detonate.
That blows my mind. I can see it now, big kid that you were, one bearhug from you would have stopped that bastard in his tracks. He had no other option but premature detonation. And that was that for the both of you. Disaster averted, mission failed, hero lost.
I’ve put myself in your shoes many times. And truth be told, I would not have done what you did. I would have made noise, made some phone calls to friends inside to get out, but kept my distance. I would have assisted in the relief effort later on, dragging bodies out of the rubble. I would have attended the funerals of my class-fellows, my teachers, my friends. I would have lingered on, scarred for the rest of my days by the haunting sense that I could have done more.
But you, you saved your friends by tackling a suicide bomber and forcing him to detonate.
I have no words for that. Thinking about it fills me with pride and leaves me teary eyed at the same time. You represent the best of the best of what this country can produce, kid from 9th grade from a school in Hangu. And you are no more.
So all I can say is thank you, Aitzaz Hasan. Thank you for giving me hope and reminding me that bowing down or fighting is the only thing we have to decide when faced with conflict. Thank you for teaching me what’s important in this little fart of a life: courage, goodness, selflessness, loyalty, friendship. And what’s unimportant: ego, selfishness, material gains, petty disputes, fear. Thank you for reminding me of everything I love about the Pashtuns, those human cocktails of brash, valiant positive energy. Thank you for giving me something to aspire to.
If I am ever in that situation I’m going to do what you did, Aitzaz. Simply to honor the memory of the bravest fuckin’ human I will never meet.
Rest in peace my brother. You earned it.