The smile that we lost

Every time I entered my classroom, I saw over a dozen students and a smile. A captivatingly genuine smile that made him what he was: Hayat, life. Ah, the irony.

You would always find him smiling, a smile that reached your heart. He had this art of easing the tensest of situations. He would crack a joke or make a subtle remark to relax your mood. He was rarely serious. We would often tease him that he was high. And, honestly, he was. High on life, high on positivity, high on giving. He had a warm presence, a soul that reassured you that the world is a beautiful place. Hayat totally justified the name his parents had given him.

I had known him since eighth grade, and we bonded soon after I went to that class. I and my cousin used to call him our brother, and he was not one in name only. He was constantly available — assisting, motivating, making us comfortable with his presence. We would tease and call each other names. One activity that I recall the most is, during our breaks, the boys would leave the classroom and we girls would stay. The humble boy that he was, he would give way to the rest of the boys and want to be the last to leave. We would block his way and lock him up in the classroom with us girls only. He would then stand there, helpless, his face turned red. He would plead innocently and then we would let him go. I think he always knew we would repeat this trick the next time, but never avoided it so as to let us laugh at him.

Hayat was a doer. Despite the financially unstable condition of his family, he studied and studied hard. He was a man of simple goals. All he wanted was to make his parents and siblings happy while he himself strove through the unforgiving hurdles of life. His father sent him to a private school, doing the best he could for his son. Hayat did not disappoint him. After school, he went to college and then got enrolled at Karachi University. He had almost materialised his dreams before his life was so mercilessly cut short. He did side jobs, taught at English language centres and schools. He wanted to join the civil services to be able to give back to the community and also make his parents proud. all the things he did, he did without complaints, and with that smile.

Hayat touched lives. He had dreams. He had a vision. He believed in humanity and exemplified it. If you ever called his name, he’d look at you with such a warm smile that you’d want to call him again. Such a sweet soul. In school, we used to submit the fee ourselves, but for three years, I don’t remember a single time submitting them myself. He did it for me. He did it for anyone who asked him to. He was full of life. And he wanted to live. He wanted to be his name.

But, we lost him. He didn’t deserve to die this young and he didn’t deserve to be killed so ruthlessly. He could have done so much more. He was a peacemaker. Or maybe this was his crime. Believing in peace, dreaming for good, working hard, how dare he!

His loss cannot be compensated. The least we can do is cry for him so that justice is served. I hope he doesn’t end up as yet another forgotten hashtag. I hope his death brings at least some change.

Oh, Hayat, how I wish you had smiled that day. I’m sure it would have melted the hearts of those monsters.