Updated: Thursday, 13th August 2020 @ 11:08am

Exclusive: 'I miss me - the old me!' Machete victim still bears scars two years on

Exclusive: 'I miss me - the old me!' Machete victim still bears scars two years on

| By Emma Downey

This month marks two years since Saim Idrees was repeatedly attacked by a machete-wielding man wearing an “evil smile mask” on his last day in Manchester, leaving him with visible scars and immeasurable mental ones.

Warning: this story contains graphic images

Saim, then 22, from Pakistan was like any other student celebrating his freedom after handing in his masters dissertation at Manchester University excited at what the next chapter had in store – little did he know the horror that lay in wait.

Recalling the day that changed his world, he said: “Two years ago on my last day in Manchester I was an unfortunate victim of a machete attack and was slashed six times.

“I was on the phone to my fiancé outside my friend’s apartment building in Cambridge Street waiting for him to let me in when I noticed an old model silver Ford Ka approaching. After a few minutes someone got out of the car and I ignored it as I never thought anything of it.”

“There were three people in the car and the driver was female.”

Feeling a sixth sense kick in Saim added: “Looking over my shoulder I saw a grey hood and at this point I said to my fiancé “something’s not right”.

“This hooded figure wearing a cartoon mask then approached me with what I thought was a baseball bat. He kept saying “give me everything.”

“I was in shock and froze when he slashed me on my thigh and toe – which was an indescribable pain.

“I gave him my bag which had my mobile and laptop in it.”

At this point, fearing for his life, Saim continued: “I think by hitting me on my toe he wanted me on the ground and I had to fight the pain after this to stay stood up for fear if I fell he would kill me.

“As soon as went away I fell to the ground.”

Describing the aftermath he added: “I was shivering waiting on the ambulance for around 20 minutes but what felt like a lifetime.”

When Saim was seen to by hospital staff he needed 13 stitches to control the bleeding and a further x-ray showed the masked man had cut through part of the bone in his elbow.

“Every other three to four days I get a sharp pain in my left toe and part of my elbow is not level – like a bump in the road which I will have for life.”

The repercussions from that day still reverberate with him, having developed PTSD, continued night terrors and adopted a could of, would of should of mentality.

“How heartless can someone be? To be that greedy about money?

“I keep thinking - if only I hadn’t been on the phone to my fiancé and had went in 30 seconds earlier.

“Since then I have been suffering from sleepless nights and I am unable to stay outside alone no matter which part of the world I am in.

“I have nightmares every three to four nights. The other night I had a dream that someone was knocking on the door and then I sat awake for the next couple of hours.

“At times I get out of bed at 3am and go downstairs just to recheck that I have locked the doors even though I know I have.

“This is just one example of weird things I do daily. If I’m driving and stopped at traffic lights I constantly check that the doors are locked and keep looking in all the mirrors.”

Poignantly, finalising his words, as if there is no way of retrieving his old self which he feels died that night, he adds: “This wasn’t inside me before. I miss me – the old me!

“I faked a smile for weeks just to make sure my already-terrified family had no more sorrow hearing about this life-threatening incident.

 “Some people asked me did I think it was because I wasn’t British? But I don’t think it was.  I think it was just an opportunistic attack.”

Disconnected from any sort of closure because of unanswered questions which have taken up permanent residence in his thoughts, he adds: “I want to know why were the police unable to recover my bag? Why was I not able to view the CCTV footage and why was I not compensated for my laptop that was in my bag that was taken from me?”

Interestingly, Saim is devoid of any anger or ‘why me’ syndrome even though the perpetrators have never been brought to justice instead substituting anger for a “cherish every moment attitude”.

“Some things are not in our hands – you may never get over it but don’t let that be a barrier to your goals or a happy life or the attacker wins!

“I have been visiting the UK since 1996. My father and cousin both studied in Manchester and I have lived here for five years.

 “I have been back to Manchester twice now with my wife – once for my graduation last July and then again in April this year but it’s not that same.”

Bravely deriving a positive out of what happened to him and offering up advice to anyone who has been the victim of a similar situation he adds: “I still have positive views of Manchester – it is my second home.

“Never judge a whole community because of a few drops of bad water.”

Saim now runs his own textile business with his father and got married last year and described it as “something good to come out of the sadness.”