A SHOPKEEPER has returned to work just months after suffering life-threatening injuries.
With the help of friends and family, Imtiaz Ul Haq has reopened the Costcutter store on The Cross, Queensferry, three months after he received wounds to his neck in an alleged attack in his shop.
Mr Haq, 58, said despite being well into his physical recovery, significant mental scars remain and are not likely to disappear any time soon.
The Costcutter store had remained closed since December when Mr Haq was gravely injured after suffering significant wounds while working an evening shift.
The shop owner was joined by his wife Afshan and friends from across the community as work began yesterday to get the supermarket up and running again.
Work got underway in the morning sunshine to restock the shelves.
On a usual day, the store can attract up to 400 shoppers, a fact not lost on Mr Haq.
In a quiet moment of reflection, he told how his recovery from the dramatic events of the winter was going.
He said: “I’m 80 per cent okay, but mentally and psychologically it’s still very traumatic for me and my family and it will be forever.
“You can’t get over something like this very quickly.
“Hundreds have come to greet me and we’re so touched by the response from the community.
“I feel very connected to the community.”
Mr Haq and his wife have run their store for almost four years and have suffered a number of break-ins, but were not dissuaded from carrying on with their business.
Afshan said that before the alleged attack on her husband in December she would have usually stayed away from the business but intended to be by his side in future.
She said: “The effects have hit him and the family, it’s real courage for him to stand there.
“There are tough times you go through, but you can’t go through them forever. He’s a fighter.”
Among those helping out yesterday morning was Donna Edwards.
Mrs Edwards, who lives nearby, was in the store moments after Mr Haq suffered his injuries and had become friendly with the store owner.
She explained why she had offered her help to him and his family.
“I just think he’s a nice man, he’s fair to people and I’m hoping that this type of trouble doesn’t happen again,” she said.
“It’s nice to get the community involved and if it was anyone else we’d do the same for them.”
Mrs Edwards said she was horrified to discover the friendly shopkeeper in distress when she visited his store with her son three months ago.
She added: “It was horrific, I’d never experienced anything like it.
“I thought he was going to die. I was so shocked.
“I’m a regular in there and it was downright cruel.
“It shook me up and the community and I can’t imagine what him and his wife have been through. They are so brave to be standing there now.”
After a while, it appeared like Mr Haq had never been away from his store and the 58-year-old father said he still has concerns about the state of the car park at the side of his store as he did when he spoke to the Leader just days before he was hurt.
Explaining the reasons behind his return to work, he pointed to the economic necessities of looking after his family.
He said: “I decided perhaps three or four days ago to come back. We have to make a living.
“It’s like a survival instinct. My life is at stake. I have to be here. It’s my living.
“I have to put a smile on. It’s not what I feel, but inside I have to keep my spirits up.
“My family don’t feel safe, but I have to stay and make a living for my family.”