Help me Peshawar!

I have never written a blog about you. I have written about Lahore, London, Moscow, Dublin, New York, Karachi,Dhaka and Colombo. Yet the city that made me the creative writer I am, I have no words to write about it.

The city that made me appreciate the beauties of nature and the complexities of human minds and relationships; did not extract a piece of writing by me on its complexities.

Peshawar, you taught me to be brave. As a three year old girl, in your parks, I learnt no slide is high enough for me and no merry go round fast enough for me. I learnt that swings go as up as your ambition. You must dream big!

Walking aimlessly in your parks and in your streets, appreciating the mystery of the churches, the business of the markets, the majesty of the mosques, the greenery of the parks; I learnt many matters. I leant to negotiate, to embrace religious diversity, to appreciate Nature and to write stories.

When you with open arms welcomed refugees from Afghanistan, I came to reconcile that hospitality and generosity are essential characteristics of humanity.

Peshawar, you have taught me to be contended with simple joys like the book from London Book Shop, internship at Grindlays Bank, Coke at the shop in front of the British Council and ice cream from the Airforce Park. You have taught me to dance with joy and cry with grief without inhibitions. Above all you taught me to forgive and forget even those who have conspired against you.

Yet I never wrote anything about you, about my birthplace. Why? For I just could not.

What do I write about, the Peshawar that I know or the Peshawar that the world knows. The Peshawar where nights were calmly blissful and the days joyfully busy or the Peshawar where days and nights are wrapped in fear and violence. The Peshawar that was a page out of Arabian Nights stories or the Peshawar that is a Horror story.

I just cannot write about you. You are my mentor, my teacher, my inspiration, my courage. A visit to you has energised me always. Yet what have I done for you. I have betrayed you.

The sense of betrayal restricts my ability to write. You have been tormented by evil. Your children have been slaughtered. Your places of pride destructed. You have become a city of barricades. I have continued selfishly to enjoy life.

I have not even condemned the perpetrators of heinous crimes committed against you. Yes I feel helpless, yes I feel defeated but defeat and helplessness is not what you taught me. You taught me to conquer fear and to seek justice. To condemn evil and to eliminate evil.

I need to find a way to defeat your enemies and yet I have no time to do so. So I do not write about you. I run away from you, I try not to think of you yet you haunt me every moment. I want to shut you away from my thoughts in the hope that I will have a life but how can I have a life when my soul, my identity is tormented. I feel like a person on the run, running away from responsibility of my dear birthplace.

Yes I laugh but I cry too. Less for you and more for my helplessness and my selfishness. I sometimes envy all those who were victims of bombs and bullets. They live in peace while I can only pray for peace.

I know I need to do something. Maybe I need to write about you. Maybe I need to do something more. Maybe I need to work on spreading education and social justice. I must find a way to help you Peshawar for in helping you I will be helping myself. Having a life and being a self centred living dead is a nightmare worse than any nightmare you have endured Peshawar!

You have always helped me. Help me Peshawar in living a life again! Help me in saving you for in doing so am saving myself from having a life in vain!


My first visit to Peshawar was in 1992 a year after I moved to Pakistan from London. I love the city. One of the cities I can drive around without a navigator. Planning on going there before the end of the business year. A touching blog.

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