Dubai: “They were lovely delightful children, always smiling and very very engaging.”
That’s how the Director of the Deira International School, Jeff Smith, describes two of his students who were killed in tragic circumstances last week in their homeland, Pakistan.
Raneem, 9, and her elder brother, Rayyan, 11, were among the five-member Durrani family that was found shot dead in their Karachi home on Tuesday morning last week.
“They were very popular with all their friends. Teachers adored them. They were the ideal students you would want in any school,” Smith said, referring to Raneem, who was studying in Grade 5 and Rayyan, who was in Grade 8. Both joined the upmarket British curriculum school just last September.
The school though, much like everyone else related to the family, is still distraught at their loss. “It was disbelief and devastation,” says Smith when he first heard the shocking news.
The father, Abdul Jawad, who was reportedly the chief financial officer of a Pakistan-based sugar mill, allegedly shot everyone including himself and their youngest son, one-year-old Arish.
According to media reports, the 50-year-old had forewarned his extended family and friends about the incident the same morning. The police, though, had yet to confirm or rule out foul play.
Whatever may have been the circumstances, no one in reality was prepared for such a blow – not least the duo’s immediate and closest friends in school and their teachers.
“They are inconsolable,” says Smith more than a week after their loss and the tragic circumstances that have emerged from Karachi.
According to reports, the wife and children were settled in Dubai and had just arrived in Pakistan the previous Saturday. They were apparently scheduled to return on the evening of the fateful Tuesday.
“A lot of times, families do take personal vacations in the middle of an academic session and it was a short few days’ break as far as we (the school) knew it,” recollects Smith.
Even as the school continues to mourn their twin loss, the teachers and the staff know their real challenge has only begun.
“For us, the case is never closed. It takes a long time for the children and the families to recover. We have to counsel children over a long term.
“It’s an ongoing situation really where we make sure if they need help, they need to talk to us, we are there,” reassures Smith with a warm smile that quickly fades into oblivion.