My dearest Daddy,
Today it’s one year, 12 months, 52 weeks, 365 days since we parted. I can truly say, hand on heart, that there has not been a single day I have not thought about you. I have, on many occasions, parked the car I was driving at the side of the road, unable to go on because I couldn’t stop my tears. I have gone shopping, picked up garlic cheese you so loved and then remembered that I can’t give it to you now. I have seen something in the news and thought I must ring you and tell you about it and then remembered I can’t. All of these moments are like a punch in the solar plexus.
It’s not only news on television that I have wanted to talk to you about. I so badly want to tell you that Sara graduated with a first in her intercalation degree, that her report got published online and, the biggest news of all, she’s decided to do her elective in Aga Khan in March. You would’ve been proud as punch! You would’ve dropped and picked her each day, every day.
I so badly want to tell you that Roann is now in her second year and doing very well. You knew she got into uni and you would’ve been so pleased at her progress.
I so badly want to tell you that my baby, Maha, is on the verge of leaving home too to go to uni. You would have been so happy that she’s studying maths, economics and Spanish and doing so well.
I so badly want to tell you about your other grandchildren; about how hard Fasih is working at his residency in Houston, about Rida who’s grown into such an elegant young lady, about how well Shafi is doing in uni studying Computer Science, about Hiba who’s as cute as ever and as hardworking, about Abu Bakr and how he, upon returning from school, still runs into your room to greet his grandmother and about Fatima whose smile melts everyone’s heart.
I so badly want to tell you about Afshan and Irfan. Afshan is getting on with making a new home for her family in Canada. She has more resilience and determination than anyone I know. And Irfan. There’s so much I want to tell you about Irfan. He’s the youngest of us three but he’s taken on the responsibilities of being the man of the house. We would be totally lost without him. He’s a mini you and we love him to bits!
And then there’s mummy. There’s nothing I can say about her that you wouldn’t know already. It’s knowing that you would have wanted us to be strong for her that’s kept us going this past year.
I so badly want to tell you I’ve been speaking at conferences. You were always interested in my governance career. You were so happy when I told you I became chair. I had heard you speak at conferences when you were working for UNESCO/UNDP in Sri Lanka. You were a great speaker. You spoke with great ease and with humour. You never failed to connect with the audience. I wish I could ask you for tips. I wish I could rehearse in front of you.
Why don’t we do things while we still have time? One of my biggest regrets is not asking to speak to you when you first went into hospital and were conscious and responsive. Irfan called me on Saturday 27th Oct and said you’d had a fall but you were speaking and responding. Then couple of hours later he called again that you were slipping into a coma. I flew out few hours later. That journey was the worst journey of my life. I kept wondering if I was going to get to Karachi on time. I was so worried that I was physically sick. On landing I went straight to the hospital. You were in ICU on a ventilator. Afshan arrived from Canada. The doctors told us the outlook was bleak and that there was almost zero chance of any sort of recovery. We went for a second opinion and were devastated when that was the same as the first. I still can’t bring myself to write about the next few days. On 31st Oct, four days after being admitted, at 10:07 am you left your earthly abode and went to heaven.
إِنَّا لِلّهِ وَإِنَّـا إِلَيْهِ رَاجِعون
As you know according to Islamic custom we had to arrange the funeral quickly. Irfan made all the arrangements, helped by his friend Ali Manzoor. The cortège left from home. I ran outside the house wanting to keep it in sight for as long as I could. I hadn’t had time to put shoes on. The road was hot. My feet were burning but I didn’t care. Then you turned the corner and were gone. I came back inside, went to your room and lay down on your bed. That made me feel you were still close to me.
Only those who’ve lost a dearly beloved father can understand how devastated I was. The wonderful man who had once said to me, “As long as I’m alive your problems are not your problems. Your problems are my problems” was no longer with me. You had made me feel loved and made me feel safe. I knew that you’d move heaven and earth for me, that you’d never let anyone hurt me, that although my own baby is old enough to be doing A Levels I was your baby, one you loved totally and unconditionally. There are so many instances which remind me of the kind of father you were. There was that time when I was 4,5 years old and running a temperature. I was sitting by the window and saw a donkey cart go by and I wanted one too. You went out and returned with a toy one for me. There was the time when there was severe flooding in Karachi and you told me not to drive back home. You drove all the way to the university where I was teaching and picked me up. When I applied for a scholarship to go to Norwich, you were behind me 100% and came to Norwich to help me settle in. You went back to Karachi and said you were uncomfortable at the thought of me walking back to my digs late at night. You sent me money and told me to buy a car. I can go on and on and on and fill pages and pages and still there’ll be much, much more to say, to write.
I will love you till my dying day. I pray that Allah grants you the highest station in Jannat ul Firdaus and unites us all there one day. Aameen.
Your loving daughter,
31st Oct 2019.