by LAUREN CODLING
A SURVIVOR of the Westgate Mall shootings in Nairobi has said she and her children are
still affected by the attack, four years after it happened.
Kamal Kaur, a radio presenter at Kenyan radio station East FM, who was part of a team
hosting a cooking competition for children at the time of the attack, told Eastern Eye that she and her children Armaan and Sapna needed to know the source of any loud sound before they accepted it and got on with whatever they were doing.
“Whether it’s a door being slammed shut by the wind or the sound of a helicopter flying overhead, we need to know.
“We have become more cautious of our surroundings and we are constantly on the lookout for an emergency exit.”
The shooting took place on September 21 2013, resulting in 67 deaths and 175 people reportedly wounded in the act of terror. The extremist group al-Shabaab claimed responsibility for the murders.
One of those who died was Kaur’s East FM work colleague, 31-year-old Ruhila Adatia-Sood. It was later revealed she was six months pregnant at the time of her death.
“It’s very heart-breaking,” Kaur said of Adatia-Sood before saying she could not speak any more about her.
Kaur’s children were both injured in the attack and her daughter is still having physiotherapy as a result of the shrapnel embedded in her legs.
“My son is a very nervous boy and jumpy. It’s been painful to watch them go through all this, but I must say I’m very proud of them for fighting it and trying to overcome their fears,” the writer and columnist said.
Kaur continues to live in Nairobi and she confessed that although she did initially consider leaving the Kenyan city, she now knows that she will never leave.
“This is my home,” she explains, “my parents are here, my whole life is here. Where will I go that is deemed safe? There are attacks happening all over the world.
“Every now and then I’ll hear of some atrocity and it’ll be in a place I might have toyed with the idea of moving to. I’m OK where I am.”
With brutal terrorist attacks becoming more of a common occurrence in the media, Kaur has acknowledged that these events make her feel like she regresses slightly with every new act of brutality that she hears about.
“It takes me back to that day when we were struggling. I’m yet to understand why people think it’s OK to kill each other to make a point.
“What are these stupid power struggles and why do humans have to pay the price for
it? I weep especially when I hear of children being harmed in attacks. It shakes me to the core,” she said.
When asked what she would like to say to the survivors of the most recent terror attacks, Kaur said: “Some days are good, some are downright horrible. I’m lucky to have loved ones around me who hold me through my moments of falling apart. PTSD is horrid and sometimes even talking about it doesn’t help. Take each day as it comes.”