Tuesday, January 05, 2021

Replug: 'I don’t feel fear sometimes. I feel fear all the time, every single day'

Feroza, a young Hazara woman from Quetta, has lost both her brothers. She writes about what it feels like to live constantly in fear

Mourners of the Hazara ethnic minority protest in Quetta on April 13, 2019, the day after a suicide blast in a crowded fruit market. Photo: AFP 

I don’t feel fear sometimes. I feel fear all the time, every single day.

Don’t get me wrong, I am a proud Pakistani. But it is heartbreaking to watch the news when the Hazara community is targeted and killed. We are poor people; I guess that is why no one wants to listen to us.

We have been surviving and living like this for so many years that now I think we are used to the feeling of fear.

My family lives in the Hazara town in Quetta. We were three siblings. But my younger brother went missing five years ago, while he was on his way to Australia. They say the boat he was travelling on was never found. But please don’t call him a “refugee”, he was not one. He was a proud Pakistani. We had to send him away, so at least one of us will be safe. At least one of us will survive. Then, I lost my second brother too. He was working in his car repair shop when they targeted and killed him. I don’t know who “they” were.

I am the only child left now.

My father is too old to support my mother and my brother’s wife and children, who also live with us in Quetta. So he has rented my brother’s shop out to make ends meet. It’s little, but we make do.

As for me, I live in Lahore. I am studying fine arts at a college on a full scholarship. It is safer here; safer then Quetta.

When I was in college there, I would have to take a bus every day. My college was really far you see. At times, the bus would come under attack, only because it was carrying us - the Hazaras. So every day, while going to study, we would wonder: “Are we next?” On the days there were killings, which were often, we would have to spend the night in college. It was too dangerous to travel home.

But those days are behind me, I think. Even then, I keep worrying about my family back home. How can I not? There are so few of us left now.

Feroza, 24, is a Hazara from Quetta, studying art in Lahore.

(This article was first published on May 11, 2019)