The Army Public School students have been in the wider mind of the common man for over a year now and although everyone has wept for them, what have we actually done for the betterment of their lives? Peshawar Zalmi team owner Javed Afridi and captain Shahid Afridi who stayed true to their word, would have known the positive impact a visit to the Pakistan Super League’s opening ceremony, would have on them. However, little did we guess the effect it would have on those of us living in the UAE, since nothing prepares you for meeting them in person.
As three buses entered the confines of Dubai stadium, the children at the back of the bus nearest to me began to wave at the ARY cameramen and I. It was this childlike innocence that touched the hardened hearts of the media. That simple gesture and those little hands, reminded us that these were just innocent school kids who overcame fear and bewilderment to set an unseen precedent of strength, courage and bravery, qualities worthy of the community they belong to.
How many times must they have asked themselves, “Why us?”
As the children streamed out of the bus in an orderly fashion, I admired the lack of bitterness in their eyes. How many adults would be able to do the same? Their schoolteachers were firm but gentle and the amiable representative from the ISPR, brought forward some children on the media’s request.
— PeshawarZalmi (@PeshawarZalmi) February 4, 2016
All those believing in the stereotypical image of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, will be pleasantly surprised to hear that the children preferred to answer media queries in fluent English. I marvelled at their ability to remain comfortable in suddenly adapting to a skyscraper city, the loud sounds of the stadium crowd and the bright cameras facing them. In all likelihood they have had to be so strong in the wake of the attack, that this was relatively easy in comparison.
In times ahead when I reflect on the PSL opening ceremony,I will remember fondly that these children arrived in a new land with enthusiasm in their smiles, humility in their words and a sprinkle of wonderment in their eyes. In the process they left behind a gulp in my throat and a tear in my eye. With many a UAE dignitary as well as the ordinary public wanting to host something special for them, the reaction to their presence here shows that in the end, goodness always wins.