Today July 24, 2020 is the third Friday without Fasih and will.be 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.