(In the wake of 16th December, the day we lost our children)

Today, my son, you will die.

You will not return home to tell me your stories, and I won’t tell you mine. I will not sit by the fire and mend your trousers, while you sit nearby, doing your homework. We won’t argue about what not to cook and you will not tell me what to pack for your lunch.

You will not return home on your blue bicycle or your father’s new scooter, but will visit me in a box, a small, ugly, box with your initials, the only burning reminder of your identity. They will tell me they found your name on a piece of paper that pronounced you “gone” and that they found your body in a ground where you and your friends played. They tell me they are sorry and they too, understood my pain.

We will bury you tomorrow, next to your friend, and your grandmother, in that old cemetery we passed by everyday while going to school.

Tomorrow, my son, we will watch them lower you down the soil, and cover you with heaps and heaps of golden dust.  Some will wail, some will remain numb and some will try remembering who you were. My arms will tremble, my knees will fail me and my body will ache, for it is home to the womb that had kept you warm for months.

Prayers will be said, candles will be lit, and flags will be lowered. Your sister will ask me where you went and if you would bring her anything from the bazaar, your grandfather lost a friend, and I, everything.

I lost my son. She lost her brother. He lost her sister. They lost their mother.

Today, we lost our children, the ones we promised to nurture, to embrace and to keep safe. I told you not to eat candies from strangers and not to engage in conversation with stranger people at bus stops, but I am sorry, I did not tell you the truth about the arms, the fires, those few “bad” men, the gunshots, the color of blood, and the sight of burning bodies….

I thought we were happy, I thought we would be safe. Today, I failed you.

We have all failed you.

(For Ahmad Qazi, who lost his mother, Tahira Qazi, in the horrific attack, and for all the souls we saved and could not save)

Kanza Javed lives and writes in Lahore. Her manuscript 'Ashes, Wine and Dust' was shortlisted for Tibor Jones South Asia Prize 2013