‘My special little one’: A father’s message to slain son

CHRISTCHURCH: John Milne sits on his bed and sobs as he pens an anguished letter to his murdered teenage son Sayyad — one of 50 people killed in the Christchurch massacre.
For a moment, Milne is unsure what to write.
What do you say to a boy who dreamed of playing in goal for Manchester United and now never will? After a long pause, the pen starts to move. “I want to do this,” he says.
“Sayyad Sayyad Sayyad, brave hunter lion. Kind Caring Loving,” he begins. Fragments of his son’s short life spill out.
His son’s difficult birth — “my special little one who had to battle just to live right from the beginning” — and the hole left in his own heart since the murder.
In the aftermath of last Friday’s attack, AFP photographer Anthony Wallace has kept a whiteboard in his backpack and asked Christchurch residents to write whatever they want on it. Most have chosen messages of unity and defiance.
“I love New Zealand. We stand united”, wrote Zeynia Endrise, whose husband Abbas had to fight for his life after being shot in his right lung.
At the time of her message, Abbas had just been taken off his ventilator and had opened his eyes. Since then, Zeynia has said his condition has further improved.
Atish, a 38-year-old man in a dark shalwar kameez and prayer cap, wanted to call for restraint.
“There is no time for hate,” he wrote. Sandy McGregor was reading tributes and messages left at a huge wall of flowers in the centre of town. She wept as she wrote: “It is so tragic we will not get to see their beautiful faces again.”
Russell Falcome-Price struggled to express what he wanted to say. So that is what he wrote: “I’m lost for words right now. Sorry.” Milne’s letter to Sayyad, however, takes up most of the whiteboard, which he is now in possession of.
That will be of little surprise to anyone who has encountered Milne in the dark days since the attack.
He talks about Sayyad frequently and openly, often referring to him in the present tense. He was, he said, “a beautiful boy” and devout Muslim who wanted to be a goalkeeper for Manchester United. — AFP