December 7, 2015

A Letter from the Infant Daughter of the San Bernardino Terrorists to The Parents Who Abandoned Her

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On December 2, 2015, Syed Rizwan Farook and and Tashfeen Malik shot and killed 14 people attending an employee Christmas Party at a rented hall at a center for disabled adults.

It appears that Malik waited outside while Farook joined the party. Farook had been in this same hall only a few months before when these same colleagues had thrown him a baby shower and had more recently welcomed him back from paternity leave. Just before the shooting, Farook and Malik dropped their six-month-old daughter off with Farook’s mother, telling her they had a doctor’s appointment.

Inside Farook and Malik’s home, the home of what appeared to be a family living the American dream, authorities found 2,500 rifle rounds and 2,000 pistol rounds alongside bottles of Johnson’s Head-to-Toe Baby Wash, diapers, and the baby registry from Target which, given the fact that the couple escaped the massacre in a sports utility vehicle, ghoulishly listed an infant’s Convertible Car Seat.

It is impossible to know fully what motivated this couple to commit the atrocities that they committed while they were, at the same time, taking steps to have their infant daughter cared for. It was as if in their crazed minds, what they were about to do wouldn’t affect her. As if, in executing their plan to massacre innocent adult victims, leaving their infant daughter with the maternal grandmother would somehow be an unselfish act, an act designed to indicate their love and concern for their daughter, an act that would be enough to protect her from being a victim of what they were about to do.

Their actions defy logic.

While reading the horrific stories surrounding this brutal event, my thoughts kept wandering to the infant and to how the accident of her having been born to parents who were terrorists and murderers would affect her.

I remembered my own children at that age of six months, the age when they had begun to smile and were just beginning to coo, the age when you know that they know you and recognize you. I thought about what the infant child of such parents must be going through. I thought about her separation and her trauma and ultimately, I thought my own imaginary thoughts about what might be going on in her own frightened, terrorized mind.

I could hear her calling out to them—to her mother and her father—to her Ammy jee and her Abbu jee. I could hear her anguished heart-wrenching need to understand. I could feel her wild sense of abandonment and in the end, I could hear her nascent child-wisdom finally understand the only thing that there is to understand about her parents and all that they did.

Here is what I imagine her saying to her parents if she could:

Dear Ammy jee and Abbu jee:  

Where are you?

I cry for you.

Where are your smells and your smiles? Where are the eyes that looked into mine like I was the sun and the moon? Where is the heartbeat of my Ammy jee that I knew so well? Where is the love you gave me?  

Where are you my Abbu jee? I want to feel the feel of your beard on my face again. I want to feel the strength in your arms again. You promised to keep me safe. You have abandoned me, my Ammy jee and my Abbu jee.

You thought I would be cared for, but you didn’t think about what would really happen to me. You didn’t think that strangers would take me or that my young life—so fresh and new—would be choked forever.

You didn’t think of the legacy you left me. You didn’t think I would be reviled not only because I am a Muslim but because I am the child of Muslim terrorists; because I am the child of killers. You didn’t think that the blood you spilled would stain my hands. You didn’t think that the bullets you shot would reach all the way into my future. You didn’t think of the questions I would live with that would go forever unanswered, or of the guilt I would feel for innocently surviving the massacre you caused.

You didn’t think of the whispers that would follow me. No. You didn’t think of any of that when you gave me to be taken care of did you? You weren’t thinking of me at all were you? No.

 You were really thinking only of you.

My heart is broken Ammy jee and Abbu jee. You have terrorized me too.


Author’s note:  “Ammy jee and Abbu jee are Pakistani idioms for Mommy and Daddy. The infant’s mother was Pakistani.




Two Mass Shootings in 24 Hours: Welcome to Our New Normal.


Author: Carmelene Siani

Editor: Travis May

Image: Video Still

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