Reuters blog archive

from Photographers' Blog:

Pierced by a mother’s grief

Gujrat, Islamabad

By Faisal Mahmood

It was my day off, but for some reason I’d woken up early. As I was about to have breakfast with my wife and children the phone rang. It was my picture editor. A school bus had caught fire in Gujrat, 100 miles from Islamabad. Seventeen children were dead.

As I gathered my cameras, I could not stop thinking about how the parents must have sent their children to school after sharing the same kind of breakfast we’d just been having at home. I was dreading what I would find.

It took three hours to reach Gujrat. A large crowd had gathered near the charred remains of the bus. I saw three lunch boxes discarded on the ground. I couldn't help but think about my own children’s lunch boxes, which I sometimes prepare before dropping them off at school.

Not far from the scene I found a house belonging to a teacher, whose three nephews had been killed in the tragedy. The teacher herself had suffered serious burns while rescuing children from the burning bus. Inside, I found a woman sitting between the coffins of two of her children, her hands placed on top of the small boxes, wailing. Her grief seemed to cut through my soul.