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Archive for July, 2020

Farewell to Dr. Syed Fasihuddin- 17

Today’s post is about giving space in a matrimonial relationship. And let the other person be who they are.

Honestly I learned this from an example from my father, as an advice from my oldest Mamujan and ofcourse practically from Fasih.

I don’t think I was a bearer of a ‘big heart’ in my chest, until I learned from Fasih through his.

My Papa and Ammi were contrasts when it came to faith. But Papa respected her being too religious, while Ammi always insisted Papa keep rozas, pray 5 times a day. And would fear for his hereafter. Papa did not like it and would resist. But as Ammi grew older, she probably gave up. And much to her surprise one day after 30 years of their marriage, Papa asked her, “Meraj Begum Hajj pe chalna hai?” Ammi was blown away.

When Mamujan came to Delhi for my shaadi, from Jaipur, he told me he wanted to have a private conversation with me. And so he did beginning with, “Beta, your husband may not be like what you like him to be. Ager woh tum se itni muhabbat kerta hai tou apne ghar waalon se bhi karega. Usko rokna mut. Dont be a mean wife. Give them their due space with your husband.”
Mamujan was the most brilliant farsighted man in our Nanihaal. And a very successful.barrister and a politician. He knew the art of putting across the message in the most effective and emotive manner. His went on, “Dekho apne bhai-behnon aur Ma Baap se muhabbat karna koi jurm nahin hota hai, aur ager woh kerta hai, tou woh tumhare kehne se chhorega bhi nahin. Lekin tum meanness dikhaogi like possessive spouse, tou woh tumhare beghair unse muhabbat karega aur unka khayal karega. Yeh mayn iss liye keh raha huun kyunke tum wahan akeli hogi aur uski poori family. If his family is nice to you, be nice to them too. Conflicts start when there is tug of war in relationships.”
He told me he gave the same advice to his kids too.

Fasih let me be me. He loved my parents without any reservations. He was extremely friendly with my brothers. In fact these boys when together ganged up against me. He even respected my cousins and friends from India. Some of them have beautiful.memories of him hosting them in Taj.

For both of us, his friends became my friends, and my friends became his, with no fuss.

I saw my husband as a very committed son and a very close sibling especially to his sister especially.
When in KSA for 20 years, he got a good 45 days vacations every year. He split them into 2. He would take 2 vacations. One alone for 15 days just to spend time with his father. And another a month, when all of us as a family travelled to Karachi and then to India and some other destination at times.
He would come back from his single vacation and tell me, “This time I took Papa to Gawader and we had bbq fish on a local stall by the sea side.” Or “I saw these cases with Papa.”
His father would take pride to tell his patients, “Mera beta bahut acha chest physician hai. Ayega tou tumhara case discuss karoonga.” Fasih would narrate all these lovey stories on his return. Fasih terribly regretted how his father could not be there when he inaugurated Taj.

I loved and respected his close relationship with his sister too. They were best friends since their college days as she was a year senior to him in Medical college. It is perhaps this reason that now her two kids Alina and Ahmed, and my two children Fatima and Ismail call each other siblings and not cousins. Both of her kids live here in Toronto and how much has Alina been a support to Ismail is beyond words. Fatima often calls me and tells me she is so mindful of how phupo has also had a huge loss in her Papa’s departure.

He was a caring brother to his other siblings and even his cousins, uncles and aunts, and even to the living senior friends of his deceased parents.
Fasih was a popular doctor among his colleagues too. But he had been so generous to me, that I never felt insecure with any of his family, friends or colleagues.
I taught exactly the same thing to my daughter Fatima too.

It is so heartening to see now my brothers having connected more with my husbands sister and respect her and see her as an extension of their “Bobby bhai”.

Fasih was a binder in his family. Even in his going, one sees, all of us left behind learning from him and binding together.

As I was talking to Fasih’s sister a few days ago, we talked of how Fasih’s goodness with everyone he touched and his kindness is what people are remembering him for. And not which brand of car or what model of iPhone or how many branded watches he left behind.

So the bottomline lesson for all of us is…to just value relationships of ones family and close friends. Rest is immaterial.


My Papa- by Fatima Fasih

oday after some time of procrastination, I decided to deep clean our refrigerator. Doing so reminded me of my Papa and how routinely in our home, he would deep clean the fridge and freezer with Ammi.

My father was very different from typical husbands and fathers. My parents would always go for groceries together. Papa actually liked doing groceries and used to tell us that as a kid, his mom would give him a list and he would go on his bike and get all the sauda of the house. So when we would bring our month’s round of groceries home, all of us would lift the groceries from the car, to the elevator, then to the kitchen table and then all of us would have duties assigned to put the groceries in the right place. But most often, Ismail and I would take the one chocolate bar (under 1 riyal, of course) we were both allowed to get and would run off to our rooms. Papa was in charge of the fruits and vegetables. He would clean them, rinse them under water, and then put them in the right baskets/bins to the fridge or to put outside. He was also in charge of all the soaps, shampoos, toothpaste, shoe polished, dish soap, laundry detergent and other chemicals and would refill or restock wherever necessary. Grocery runs were an event in our family for one day of the first weekend of the month. We would go to the biggest hyper store, then fruit and vegetable market, and then end the night with either Tazaj, Al Baik or some Turkish food. Those were the golden days! Feasting after all that work was the reward.

Papa was also in charge of the laundry of the house and for a while, Ammi did not know how to use the machine because it was Papa’s task and if Ammi ever dared to, Papa would always put the blame on her for messing his process. 😂 Then the chore to dry the clothes after the machine had done its work was assigned to us 3 – Ammi, me and Ismail. Of course, if we got late, the clothes would smell and be ruined so we had to do it right away as per Papa’s instructions. We had a Bua in the house, but still some tasks were ours to do regardless. Once I saw another family friend ask their bua to bring her water in her room, and I asked our Bua as well, casually. It was not taken well by my parents and that was the best part of our upbringing. Instead, Ammi told me to give water to Bua whenever she wanted. Bua was not our “maid”. She was our respected househelp and any help she gave us, we had to be grateful for. And we were and still are.

Papa was also the handyman of the house. And not at all a procrastinator. He had a box of glues – ranging from instant glue, Elfi, UHU, epoxy glue, the white wood glue, glue gun with the clear refills as well as coloured refills and then he had a tool box of all tools and screwdrivers and of each size. He kept us involved as well and asked us to help him as he fixed things around the house. I was obviously his assistant so since early years of my childhood, I knew which glue and which tool to use for any kind of troubleshooting at home. Papa also always cleaned the drains, made sure nothing ever clogged and did plumbing work in the house.

Papa was also highly acclaimed for making the best chicken karhayi in the house. He even made katakat and handis at home for us once a while. A video of my Aqiqah in December 1990 also shows Papa cutting the meat to distribute during the party in the kitchen.

So when I hear of stories of men that don’t enter the kitchen, it makes no sense to me. I don’t know how it could be possible after seeing my father do so much around our house and beyond.

After a month of sulking, I decided to look back and remember my dad and how he was in times of setbacks and sadness. I quickly realised that he never let any thing pull him down – he had no time for politics, no time for sulking and no time for what people say about him. A desi uncle in Canada once said to him, “Dunya chaand pe jaarahi hai, aur aap Pakistan jaarahe hain?” He laughed it off and said “Yes, that is my dream.” Papa accepted the sad realities of life and moved on from them to continue his work. I remember him most recently when Dada died in 2014. He prayed for his parents, remembered them, but he did not sulk or sit around waiting for answers. He just did his work and did good work for his peace and patience.

There’s so much to learn from Papa’s life for me as his daughter, but for now I will begin to learn from how he dealt with the lows and how he enjoyed the little things such as a hot cup of tea and a bush full of flowers. He enjoyed Eid and always was ready for a day with his family and friends. I am sad that Eid this week will be the first without him, but I will plan to celebrate as he liked and hopefully if he’s watching us, he can be proud.

Note: This post may be long for a lot, but to me, this is a memoir into Papa’s life for us to read later as well as a way for me to remember him and the little details that get shadowed in the busyness of this short, chaotic life.


Farewell to Dr. Syed Fasihuddin- 16

Most of the times these days, nothing helps. Absolutely nothing. But then one flash of memory becomes a device and a mechanism to carry on…in the heart, in ones mind or in ones writings of silly meaningless moments and hold them close as priceless memories.
But again, one is again thrown back in a dark place with no clue how does one even make sense when one wheel of your bike goes missing. How do you learn to single-wheel after 30 years of a laid back life because someone else was pedalling it for you. I guess, perhaps, I am pretty sure, it’s not going to be easy by any measure. We must fasten our seatbelts for a roller coaster ride.

Fatima, Ismail and I laugh and cry momentarily recalling silly snippets. Recalling some silly memories out of many many, here….

Fasih and I had somehow developed a habit of communicating in different languages and dialects. It wasn’t deliberate. Dont know how it happened so organically.
Like I would ask him in Sindhi, “Chaaye piyendo?”
For any compliment he would say, “Dado Sutho”
For asking some cash when in Karachi, i would ask in Arabic, “Ana ibgha fuloos.” (I need noney)
He would respond, “Kam ibgha?” (How much?)
Me:”Kateer” (Lots)
He would respond, “Ana miskeen.” (I am poor).
Sometime he switched to Punjabi after having listened to a friend get angry at his wife for being too demanding, “Tu mainu kut ley.” 😀 (Chop me up).
He made the morning tea for a lazy me. And would keep it on the bedside in Bihari tone every single time, “Begum Sahiba kya anda bhi jushaand dein aapke liye?” 😀
(Shall I boil an egg also for you?).

Sometimes it was in goorh Hindi which went over and above his head. Or in Pakeezah style Urdu.

He sent the 2nd & 3rd pics..”.mubarak ho, mubarak ho, you have a grand chick” when his Greys pair Shakespeare & Cleopatra, who are his kids, hatched a new chick. He was later named Rio.

Fasih had gone to a conference in Lahore and messaged me the 4th photo from there with a query, “Kaif?” (How is it?)
I replied, “Ya Allah, What kind of conference is this? But you look great 😀 .”

Fasih was such a life…living every moment with his own brand of humor and flair.

We had our moments of serious arguments and disagreements too. It wasn’t all hunky dory all the time. But it was all part of a beautiful package.

Farewell to Dr. Syed Fasihuddin- 15

Ya Allah ! Today, completes one month since Fasih’s departure….(God ! I find it hard to decribe it in words). I refuse to accept that he is no more with us. He is there, very much with all of his family, freinds and staff, in the beautiful memories, and physically even, in the form of his children and in every brick and block that makes Taj Consultants Clinics and Tabeer.

Our family is extremely humbled by the love and sentiments shared by those who grew up with him, knew him, shared interests and passions with him, and even knew him through us. It rings the words that Fasih often told his kids and staff,

“Dont miss any opportunity to help others. You never know how much they may need that.”

A dear family friend of from Pakistan called crying, “Ilmana want to tell you we miss Fasih bhai a lot. You have set a new standard of mourning of a life lost, by sharing his life with so many of us. You have no idea how much this helps in understanding things we did not know about him. Obviously no one knew him more than his family. The prespective Fatima gives as a daughter, and the perspective you give as a partner only elevates our love for this man.”

Another old and dear friend of Syed Fasihuddin wrote: “Fasih was my classfellow and groupmate from 1st day of medical college to the last. We were always friends, academically competitive and founders of voluntary blood bank.however I am finding out so much more about his personal side from your posts and appreciate feel so proud how he spent his life caring not only about bigger things in life like his family and profession but also smaller things like Motia and sunrises and sunsets. May you find solace, in His sisters words, he lived a happy life fulfilling his dreams.”

A message from someone who knew Taj Consultants Clinics and me separately messaged: “My heart breaks for you so much.. I was his big admirer without even knowing that you were married to him… My family is in Karachi and my brother liked his Taj hospital page and thats how i stumbled on that page.. I was so impressed with the hospitals work ethics, how they all treated the employees and staff with so much respect, celebrating birthdays and how he used to educate people about illnesses. Not all hospitals and doctors in Pakistan are that ethical. For me it was an unusual experience knowing how corrupt that country is. Dr. Fasih seemed so different.”

A friend from India, who had the chance to visit him in Karachi at Taj: “I had the honor to know and meet your husband Ilmana, on his own turf at Taj and see his vision was real in the form of mortar and bricks, and not just an imaginary construct of mind. It almost looks surreal now, that we actually spent time with him there.

A SriLankan-Canadian friend, “Ilmana you gave me Fasih’s number when I was going on a business ntrip to Karachi. To be honest, I never planned to visit him. But then I fell sick in Karachi, and all that came handy was Dr. Fasih’s phone number. He called me over to the clinic, and I could not imagine, what would I do if I did not call him. I ended up as a patient in Taj for two days. He became my therapist. Imagine.”

Fasih’s nephew sharing a picture of his siblings: “This picture on last Eid was on Bobby Chachu’s insistance. Only he could think of such little details. It wont ever be same again for our family.”

My brother from India, “Today we lost our father again. Do I need say any more…”

Fasih’s sister, “I lost my best friend of 59 years. I just go to his terrace, prune his plants, play with his Elmo, get his terrace cleaned like he always kept it. I talk to his plants and feel he is there with me.”

I only hope and pray Fasih is seeing and hearing all this love from up above the world so high… 

Farewell to Dr. Syed Fasihuddin-14

Today July 24, 2020 is the third Friday without Fasih and a month in 2 days. So today’s post is going to be about a thorough proffessional and an ardent dreamer Karachiite that Fasih was.

Last Friday, it rained for about 10-15 minutes in Karachi and the whole city turned into a puddle.
The Manager at Taj was informed by most of the Consultants that they will not be coming to see the patients, as there is no way to drive from their places to the clinic. Moreover due to failure of electricity in major areas, fear of electrocution on waterlogged roads and traffic jam, the staff knew there will be no patients walking in the clinic.

Our most dedicated Managers of Taj, who have been working with Fasih for 5 years, took an executive decision and closed Taj at 7:30PM. Not only just that, a note of compassion from of the Managers was sent to the rest of the staff on the “Dr. Fasih’s Staff” WhatsApp Group:

“May this rain and season be a source of blessing and purity for all of us. Stay safe and be very conscious about the people around you. Drive slow, stay away from wires, and close to your loved ones.”

In short, just a 15 minutes of rain in Karachi wreck so much havoc that everything came to a stand still. It was not just our workplace that closed. Unfortunately this is not the first time, nor will it be the last time that this happened in Karachi.
Every year in rainy season I saw Fasih get frustrated at the deluge that Karachi faced after every single shower, long or short. And then followed the filth, and smell that floated with the rain water across the roads. He posted in various Karachi groups on various forums, sharing his angst to complain and to ask for solutions. However pretty soon he realized that there was no one interested in his or a 100 million other Karachiites plight. But he refused to give up. I knew he would never give up

For 30 years that I was married to him, all I saw in him as we lived abroad was a never ending glimmer of hope that Karachi will get better sooner than later. He argued with skeptics, that we just cannot hope that others do it, we need to act and participate in the process ourselves too.
Many ridiculed him by saying, “Duniya chaand pe jaa rahi hai, aur Dr. Sb aap Karachi jana chahtey hain?”
I knew him and his willpower to go against the tide pretty well, and hence despite fears, I chose to stand by his decision.
‘No, are you crazy’, ‘paagal hai kya’ comments from friends and others did nothing to change his mind.

He was an apolitical man and a thorough professional. His ideal of serving Karachi and Pakistan was though a much needed and missing honest and clean service to the community. How he navigated the red tape without paying any bribes, but that is a story to be shared at another time. But all I can say is he convinced even the most corrupt officers ( one of them is a fugitive currently), saying very bluntly, “I want to do good work, and I cannot pay any bribe.”
Believe me, even the most corrupt directors complied without charging any bribe for his project and with a request, “Dr Sb apne nek kaam mein hamare liye bhi dua kerna.”

He was an uncomplicated man, so he wanted to do clean work. He had patience, and immense perseverence, that I have yet to see in any other Karachiite, and would never take short cuts to achieve his goal. He often said, “I sleep well at night because I have no skeletons in my cupboard.”

He wrote several times in the FB group Mera Karachi Group, in desperation and with pictures when the 14 story apartments residents next to Taj threw garbage including used diapers and sanitary napkins on the roof of Taj Consultants Clinics. He reached out to local Counselor, local MPA and local MP( that was Imran Khan) but no one paid much heed. Local building managers said, “the residents don’t listen to us.”

Not only did he dream of a quality healthcare, he also worked in and around Taj through his Not For Profit organization Tabeer, for health awareness, holding many CME sessions, awareness campaigns for TB, Bronchial Asthma, free clinics in poor communities, school health check ups and for environment through celebrating Green Day on Earth Day at the clinic, and by planting trees around the Gulshan Chowrangi. Celebrating 14 August and Qauid e Azams Birthday on 25 December were two events staff and patients keenly looked forward to.

As COVID challenge came, the Clinic made all possible SOPs for social distancing and disinfection. Fasih, continued advocating to family, friends, patients and community for social distancing and to stay home. He lambasted those who said, “COVID tou bus drama hai.” He was annoyed when Karachiites seemed more interested in Eid Shopping and Iftar parties and even govt and judges were openly advocating to let people carry on with Eid shopping.
He told me on several calls, “Let this pandemic be over, I will give you details to write about the wrecklessness of masses and the stigma that people had made COVID19 into.”
He would get patients who were unwilling to get tested for COVID19. One educated man told him, ‘Sir I have 3 unmarried daughters, how can I label myself COVID19.”
Even the moments he was breathing his last few breaths in the ICU at Dow Ojha Campus, barely 5kms away, his patients were waiting un the waiting area at Taj. His patients came from as far way as Balochistan, interior Sindh and even from DHA and Clifton within Karachi.

He had worked in SARS & MERS Pandemics in the Middle East, and he told me, “COVID19 Pandemic is far more chaotic than those of SARS or MERS.”

Just in June, he was devastated himself when he lost 3 close friends, all doctors to COVID19- A plastic surgeon in UK, a surgeon in Riyadh and a GP in Makkah.
I told him this is dangerous, and he retorted, “Do you want me to go into hiding? A Pulmonologist to go into hiding?”
Unfortuntely a man who had never feared for his life even in the worst of Karachi days, lost his battle to COVID19 on Friday at 1PM on 26 June 2020. It just took 3 days for a robust fit man to go downhill.

A dreamer of Karachi closed his eyes at the age of 59 and departed for his heavenly journey 4 Fridays ago. I am sure Allah must have rewarded him with the cleanest and purest abodes in Jannah, knowing how much aspired for honest work and clean actions when on Earth.

We often shared jokes in poetry. When he struggled with the challenges in Karachi after working on ground, I would tell him:
“Deewane tou pehley hii the, ab aur tarah ki deewangi hai.”

He would give his million dollar signature smile and reply:
“Zindagi kya hai jaanne ke liye, Karachi mein rehna bahut zaroori hai.”

I know he was not the first dreamer-cum-doer of Karachi, nor will he be the last. However, I wonder if Karachi will ever change for better or will more dreamers of Karachi depart one after the other, just taking their dreams to their graves.
Amidst all the mess and chaos in Karachi his willpower and passion made it possible to create an exemplary healthcare facility He has left big shoes for us as family to fill in. Insha’Allah we will take his mission and legacy forward and continue to strive for a better Karachi through our actions, until our last breath too.

To those dreamers of Karachi still around, I know he would want them to never give up because giving up is no solution to a better life.

Breaking news to our Bua about Papa- by Fatima Fasih

In Makkah, where we grew up, we had a Bua who was Siraiki and originated from a village in Multan/Bahawalpur area. She lived with us from 1994 to 2009, until we left Makkah and moved to Canada. She was our nanny and househelp, but really she was family and like a Nani to us. She had a tough life with experience ranging from physical domestic abuse, isolation after separating from her husband who was a drug addict and then moving to the city to work for a household with her only daughter, despite being educated and literate. She was able to read and write Urdu fluently. She taught us how to read the Quran and also how to pray. She was a vital part of our childhood and taught me a lot about life. She even asked us to teach her English and about the world. I showed her a World Map to teach her about countries when I was only 10. She had never seen a map before. She didn’t know what a globe was. That was my first reality check of the privilege we had and others didn’t.

When we were leaving Makkah, Bua decided she didn’t want to watch our home pack up so she moved back to her daughter’s place in Multan. She was in contact with Papa and would send Papa boxes of mangoes in the current season every year. She even came to Karachi for my wedding and then again for my sister in law’s wedding to help us out.

Today, I decided to call her and tell her about Papa’s death. I didn’t know how to do it. I just knew that she had to know. I prepared myself all evening after Rahma slept. How to say it? Should I start with him being sick or should I just tell that he passed away? I went ahead with the latter. When I called her grandson’s WhatsApp and asked to speak with her, she received the phone with so much happiness.

She kept saying, “Meri beti Kaisi hai? Photo mein itni pyaari hai apni baby k saath”

Then she went to ask casually how everyone was. “Ammi theek hain? Ismail theek hai? Papa theek hain? Mein aap k Papa ko call kerrahi thi. Lekin call mil nahi rahi thi…” Before she could say anything else, I told her that Papa passed away last month. Her voice changed. She said the words Innalillahiwainnailaihi Raajiun. And continued to ask the how’s and why’s. I explained, and she continued to cry as I cried. “Mera Beta Jannat chalagaya”. She mentioned how she knew how much he loved me, how much he cared for his daughter and all the times he boasted about me and my job and recently my baby girl on his routine calls with Bua. She told me she already had asked her nephew to prepare the mangoes to send to him this week, but now she will just distribute them in his name to the poor of the area.

I thought the call would make me stronger, help me deal with the grief head on, but it paralysed me more. Until the end of the evening. Until I sat with my husband and cried, realising once again the magnanimity of my loss.

My Bua spent 15 years with us, that is half my life and more than half of the total time I spent with Papa. She knew all about our home, our childhood. How could talking to her not break me?

Farewell to Dr. Syed Fasihuddin- 13

Fasih household is averse to all kinds of soap serials whether Indian, Pakistani or Turkish or whatever. Fake, unrealistic, imaginary stories are not our cup of tea.
Despite being born and raised in different environments and cultures, Fasih and I had few things very much in common. And one of them was aversion to TV Dramas.
We watched occasionally good movies in theatre only whether Bollywood or foreign. He did not have patience to sit through hours of meaningless movies. So did I.
Ofcourse at home it was as easy as switching channels with remote control. But we even walked out of the theater half way through if the film was not engaging.
Our taste for Hollywoid movies did not match. He loved fast paced Bond movies while I like more serious ones.

This time when he was here, from March till Msy 2020, theatres too had been locked down. The last movie we saw together at home was Irrfan Khans English Medium as a tribute to his life. But both of us did not find it as good as Hindi Medium we had seen together in theater in Mississauga few years ago.

His all time favourite Bollywood film was Zindagi Nahin Milegi Dobara. This totally reflected his utmost love to travel the globe by road and his philosophy of life to enjoy every moment.
He got time to listen to music only on long drives, which was his method of relaxation.
His favourite singer Abida Parveen played in his car all the time he went on long or short roads trips. Duma Dum Must Qalander…was his favourite of Abida. If there was anyone other than her, it was Jagjeet Singh. And Reshma too.
My car has my favourite music-Farid Ayaz and his Khusrau and Kabeer renditions. Fasih clearly sided with Bulleh Shah & Abida Parveen. We actually had made this an India Pakistan joke amongst us. 😀
But whenever he visited Delhi to see my folks, he would have on his itinerary a visit to Dilliwalas “Hazrat Nizamuddin & Amir Khusrau” tombs.

Being an ardent animal lover, pets were an constant and regular part of our household. Kids got parakeets, goldfish and turtles when they were small as gifts from Papa. Not only did Fasih loved animals, he actually interacted with them as individuals. Fasih inherited this love from his own father Dr. S M Sabhihuddin, who had deers, swans, ducks, turkeys, patridges, parakeets, peacocks( both white and colorful), macaws and a bunch of dogs at home in Karachi. The house was in itself a zoo for the kids of Dr. Sabih’s clan. As a result, Fatima and Ismail both have been raised as animal lovers and are pet owners on their own too.

Of all kinds to films or TV shows, wildlife documentaries are the favourites in Fasih home and ofcourse we found them therapeutic in the pandemic lockdown. Netflix was a blessing in lockdown and all three of us, Fasih, Ismail and I, completed the entire Animal Planet series together in last 3 months of his life.

This beautiful photo going viral brought back the memories which were recent, but had gone into some forgotten place as we mourn Fasih’s loss and imagine his gruelling last few days on a ventilator.
Loved to read these two different Panthers are courting each other for 4 years. I am sure if Fasih was around, he would crack.some joke and relate them to both of us. 

Details here:

PS: These are just my personal memories I am sharing. They may not be relevant or interesting for others. Forgive me if my posts are getting annoying and unnecessary.

A Letter to my Papa- by Fatima Fasih

Dear Papa,

It has been a few days since I’ve written about you or to you. Not a day has passed since your death when we have not remembered you, laughed about you or cried about you. I have started to understand now that you are in everything we do. I also know you are a martyr InshaAllah and you will live on with us in all the things we do. I hope now you can see Rahma’s free spirit nature comes from you as do her dimples. I hope you see how we’re no longer procrastinators since you were the do-er and now we do for you. I hope you can see how we enjoy the outdoors like you did, how we appreciate and take inspiration from all the things around us, like you did. I hope you can see how we’ve finally realised the value of prayer and faith. It’s still a long way ahead in this process of grief and remembrance, but we’re getting there from the strength we gain from you.

You were always larger than life and I know you are here even beyond your life. You are in the sunset, in the skies, in whisps of the champas, the smell of chaunsas, in the essence of everything good around us. I just hope you can also protect us and pray to Allah with us to make the tough road ahead easier for us, to send angels our way whenever we are lost or in crisis, and to protect us from all those with ill intentions or the evil eye. For as long as I live, I know you’ll be my guardian angel.

Your beti always,
(Link: )

Farewell to Dr. Syed Fasihuddin- 12

Fasih was a huge advocate of living a good life and taking challenges with a stride instead of drowning into stress.
He had unusually high emotional intelligence to manage stress with small pleasures along the way.
His one consistent lesson to me was, “Live your life too. Dont plan too much for the future.”

Despite being an ambitious alpha male, with apirations and high standards especially of quality work in Pakistan, he found pleasures in small things too. Things that most men would find sissy like keeping motia flowers for scent on his bedside, or wear a crisp starched kurta for Juma or driving upto the beach to watch sunrise and seabreeze early Sunday morning and then going for halwa poori nashta with old college friends, or spending Sunday evenings pruning his plants & playing with his pets on his terrace garden.

His last weeks with us in Canada tell a beautiful tale of his capability to enjoy every moment to its fullest. Following pics from his profile will give an idea of how he turned every challenging situation into an opportunity to live well and happy.

He arrived Mississauga on March 1 as usual for 3 weeks spring break, and was to return on March 21. Right on 19th March, much to my delight, the flights stopped. He was annoyed because he had “responsibilities and work at Taj.”
And then he would whine, “But what will i do stuck here? I cant sit idle.”
There was social.distancing and lockdown too. So there wasn’t any chance to socialize and visit friends or cousins.
Fasih began long drives and jogging. And would drag a lazy me along. And it turned out to be very personalized family time with him, Ismail and myself. He even turned this time into a busy routine- daily remote meetings with Taj staff, Webinar CMEs on COVID, table tennis with Ismail, long drives and walks will all 3 of us together.
After hundreds of calls to Pak Consulate and PIA he ultimately managed his return from Toronto to Lahore as there was no flight to Karachi in mid May. We did ask him to stay on, but he found our requests ridiculous. As Fatima and I often regret, wish I had lost or hidden his passport. I know he would have labelled me an unreasonable wife, but at least he would have been here and safe. 😦
He chose to drive from Lahore to Karachi and enjoyed every stop and scene along the way and kept sending us pics of sunsets, sunrise, check posts, local dhabas, with promises, “Next time you are here, we will drive upto Lahore.”.
Fatima and I kept calling him every couple of hours and he would respond to our calls with, “Ya ya, I am safe so far. Okay happy?”
He found our fears exaggerated.

Being a dog lover, his walks in the neighborhood made him friends with many neighborhood pet dogs, and even knew some of their names. I have lived in this house for 8 years, and I still did not know a single name. 🙂

In 11 weeks, he filled our solarium with plants. And reminded me, “Dont park your suitcases here again. Solarium is meant to keep plants.” 😀
The screenshots below give a snapshot of how he made the best of every ordinary moments in life.
As his sister while grieving still takes pride that, “What makes me contented is that my brother lived a happy life, and enjoyed every moment to its best. And God gave him whatever he asked for, be it name, respect, love, happiness, travel and success.”

My Ammi’s Agony

Talking to Ammi is the hardest thing in this world these days.

For a week past the tragic day, my brothers did not have the courage or the stength to tell her. Eversince she had heard that Fasih was unwell, an 80 year old Ammi of mine, weak and frail, had suddenly gathered some horse-power miraculously and sat down on janamaz, praying for “Bobby” as she called him, day and night.
It was heartbreaking to decide whether to tell her at all or not. But the zest with which she was praying day and night and every now and then asking my brothers, “Bobby mian ki khairyet aayi?” was too strenous to continue without telling her the tragic news. Otherwise, she would have gone praying forever…

I cannot thank enough my brothers Hilmi & Subhi, who managed it very tactfully and broke the bad news to Ammi, and literally carrying her in their fold, as she broke down.
For a couple of weeks, I was not in a state to face Ammi even on a video call so would talk to her on phone.
And both of us faked strength on each side to reassure that “I am strong, you must not worry about me.”

Today, I took the courage to talk to Ammi on a video call.
She was speaking, praying and was the bravest to not cry, but she was constantly looking at me, deeper than my face, as if trying to see through my brain. And I could see through her eyes, her heart was crying within. Sometimes, she paused for minutes, not say anything, but kept staring at me without a blink. ;(

Meri Amma, I am so sorry for all this pain that you have to go through at this frail age and uncertain times. I wish we could help ourselves and help you too. I wish I could hug you tight, so we could cry our hearts out on your chest.
I so wish I could hug my daughter and her daughter too.

Special love to my husband’s sister-cum-mother Kosar Baji who is also grieving a very personal loss. She is as hurt for Fasih as my own mother is. I wish I could hug her too.

One thing that angers me all through this grieving process is the single ritual one-liner ‘RIP’ or ‘Inna Lillahe….’ (He has gone, where he belonged to)& period, or the associated preaching that comes with it that “its haram to mourn for more than 3 days”, with little or no sensitivity that the person who went ‘back to Allah’ was someone’s son, someone’s brother, someone’s father, someone’s husband or even someone’s very dear friend too. And their hearts and lives were intertwined with the ‘departed’s’ heart and life too. And that those grieiving are not heartless machines that can be switched off and on with a timetable.
No one from us wants these people, who are not hurt to feel hurt. But at least quietly acknowledge our grief and tragedy.

Will these people say the same heartless one-liners or time and switch off their grief after 3 days when their own dearest ones will pass away too, prematurely and suddenly?

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