Hello world ! My name is Keisha. I was born in Chicago. Both my parents went to Ivy League Universities and they are attorneys. I wonder why why yesterday when we were going out for a drive a white cop stopped my Dad and asked him “Where did he get this brand new Mercedes from?” My mom is always telling my big brother to not go out alone and is really nervous until he is back home. I want to grow up and go to Harvard to study medicine. When I told this in my class, my friends asked, “You can go to Harvard? Are you sure?” When I told them both my parents graduated from Yale, they couldn’t believe it. Whats wrong with this world?
aaj jaane ki zid na karo yoon hi pehloo mein baiThe raho aaj jaane ki zid na karo haay mar jaayenge, hum to luT jaayenge aisi baatein kiya na karo aaj jaane ki zid na karo
tonight, don’t insist on leaving. keep on sitting close to me like you are. tonight, don’t insist on leaving. oh I will die, I will be lost, don’t say such things.tonight, don’t insist on leaving.
tum hi socho zara, kyun na rokein tumhein jaan jaati hai jab uTh ke jaate ho tum tumko apni kasam jaan-e-jaan baat itni meri maan lo aaj jaane ki zid na karo
just think for a moment, why should I not stop you. my life seems to leave my body when you get up and go, I swear to you, my beloved just agree to this request of minetonight, don’t insist on leaving.
waqt ki qaid mein zindagi hai magar chand ghadiyaan yehi hain jo aazaad hain inko kho kar mere jaan-e-jaan umr bhar na taraste raho aaj jaane ki zid na karo
life is trapped in the prison of time but these are the few moments that are free by losing them, my beloved let’s not have a life of regret tonight, don’t insist on leaving
haaye mar jaayenge, hum to lut jaayenge aisi baatein kiya na karo aaj jaane ki zid na karo kitna maasoom rangeen hai ye samaa husn aur ishq ki aaj meraaj hai kal ki kisko khabar jaan-e-jaan rok lo aaj ki raat ko aaj jaane ki zid na karo
what an innocent, colorful weather it is. it is the zenith of beauty and love today who knows what will happen tomorrow, let’s stop this night, tonight, don’t insist on leaving.
My friend Huma who had been cheering me up, laughing, joking when Fasih was unwell and when she was barely 3 weeks into her husband’s death cried her heart when I talked to her last time. There are friends who call her, “Huma it’s now 3 months. I hope you must be recovering now. That is why Allah made Iddat for 4 months and not longer.”Huma: “Ilmana how do I explain to them that how can I ‘recover’ a relationship of 30 years in 3 months. I had no words for her and as usual cried as I do after putting the phone down. All I know and feel is that it aint any better for me either. Just that some days are very bad and some days are not too bad. And sometimes Fatima, Ismail and I laugh at a Papa joke, sometime we cry. And sometimes I fake smiles because ismail is constantly keeping a close watch on my facial expressions. Ismail has at least begun to express a bit now: “Ammi we already had a small family, and it became even tinier. If we didnt have Rahma’s monkey videos, how would we move on?” Why complain of others, in my own 55 years of life, I thought I had a good understanding of death, and its impact on its loved ones. But honestly I just had a clue, not the entire picture. For me the most tragic was the loss of children, small or big, for their parents. I still think this is the most traumatizing experience any human can ever go through. People do not understanding but losing a child in pregancy even if early is as traumatizing as losing a living child. Once you have created a bond and images of your unborn child, your parental instincts are awaken. Second most tragic loss I thought was of the mother of a small child. What hurt me most was the love and the care that the child misses out from the absent parent. Ofcourse sensitive parents do try to be both parents after the spouse passes away, but it is still not the same. Mother is a mother is a mother. Hence for this reason, when my kids were babies, I had prayed aloud, and made sure Fasih was also aware of it. I used to pray, “Ya Allah keep me alive till my kids are 18+ or adults.”And once they were old enough, I actually took a sigh of relief and told Fasih, “Rest of my life is now a bonus. Now if I die, feel free to get a step mother for my adult kids.” Fasih never talked about death. But I often talked about it. I wanted him to know that now children are adults, if I ever die suddenly what would he do with my possessions. Even this time when Fasih was here, in May 2020 I gave him a slip of my bank accounts and locker and that that he was willed to take them if I go. Whenever I had palpatations, although they are benign, first and only person I messaged was him. So that if I ever go away, he would know what happened to me the last hours of my life. In a joke, last time, I even told him who I thought was fit to marry him if I was gone. Ofcourse that will remain a secret now buried with me, though I shared with Fatima who that beautiful person is. And Fasih just laughed and remarked, “Tum drama zaroor kerna. Merna werna nahin hai tumko.” Then he got serious, “You must try to take care of your health. You dont even go for annual physical tests.” In all likelihoods, the way we were carrying ourselves, I always thought I would be the lucky person to go first. In all these years, one thing that I did not have any clue was how hurtful it is to lose a loving spouse, How lonely does one become. How suddenly as if you are released from the beautiful bond where the other person kept a tab on your minute to minute wellbeing. No matter how loving or caring children, or siblings are, they cannot replace a spouse. Not one day did Fasih not remind me, “Apni thyroid meds le rahi ho?” and how I nagged him, “Vit D levels check kerwaao.”I feel very guilty now that when Papa passed away in 1998 I was too shaken and in grief of my own loss, that I did not really feel it was a bigger loss for Ammi. I feel terrible, Probaby she consoled me like a mother, more than I consoled her on the loss of her spouse. I am sorry Ammi. I wish I was more sensitive to you. So learning it that hard way, I now believe, loss of a spouse is no less devastating. All relationships can move on with normal lives, but its the parents who have lost a child, and the spouse who is left alone, is the hardest to move on. Every day is a new lesson learned for me. And am sure is the same for each one of us here. To those who count grief in days or months, all I can say is: Do aur do ka jorh hamesha chaar kahan hota hai, Soch samajh waalon ko thori nadaani dey Maula.
Below is a beautiful picture of my beautiful mother, who was more supportive to me after loss of our father, than we were to her on the loss of her spouse. Ofcourse I exclude my brother Subhi from this guilt as I know how he has shadowed Ammi ever since, and looked after her as if she was his baby
This is such a comforting message that a FB friend of Fatima Fasih sent to her from the hospital where Fasih worked for 25 years as a Pulmonologist. It is sent by someone who had no clue about who Dr. Fasih was. You make us so proud Syed Fasihuddin even after you are not there. It hurts. We miss you, my man.
Taking today a deeper look into our relationship as a husband and a wife beyond just being a “good looking couple”.. So many people have told me that I must cherish the supportive husband that Fasih was. Many people don’t get that even for few months or days, I was blessed to have it for 30 years. I wish we had 50 more years to go on. There is no doubt about how we shared our lives and became a partnership that was egalitarian. But we did have our fair-share of disagreements, arguments and fights too. Most of those were based on our different personalities. Which couple doesn’t have that? Fasih had tremendous patience. But in the last 5 years when he was living in Karachi, dealing with all kinds of crooks and challenges at Taj and other offices, and how even the most educated people do double-speak, he had become quite irritable. Fatima often told him, “Papa, this ain’t like you.” And he would respond, “You have no idea how much of a mess it is working in Pakistan, with little or no professional ethics or honesty.” Unfortunate that was. After 25 years working abroad, when Fasih landed in Pakistan 5 years ago, what triggered him most was the impunity with which people told lies and how they considered a polite person as being weak and naive. Over these 5 years, a man who was loved by his staff from the boss upto the office cleaners and who sat with them all to eat food on duty had turned into a person who would get angry on those who lied or were manipulative. He was a devil for the imposters in his staff and others, and a saint for those who were professional and honest. So now, unlike before in our family, I was the good cop and he was the bad cop at Taj. And it was understandable. I used to tease him, “Dont become a whining old man.”Pat would be his reply, “Tum hogi old. I am not.”It was the reason that I had started being in Karachi more often in past 2 years and forced him to travel to Canada more frequently. He found frequent travelling breaks, as a respite. So we began travelling at least 3 times a year. But even then he never had any regret of having labored for 15 years to establish Taj and was all ready to strive for a quality, honest and efficient Healthcare provider at Taj, and bring the change he desired in Pakistan. Telling a lie was a trigger for Fasih since forever, whether at home or outside. He detested people who lied without guilt. Going back to days before moving to Pakistan, we lived in Makkah for 25 years. Both our kids were born there and went to school there. Life was at its best, with coveted jobs, kids going to best schools, and lots of time and spare resources to travel the world. However things that made our relationsip special were not just these comforts. The biggest reason for our happiness was the sense of security that we both felt in our relationship. Fasih being an extremely handsome young doctor, in an Arab country where polygamy was the norm, it was trust in each other that was our anchor. Ironically many Pakistanis learn ‘doosri shaadi’ from working in middle east. Fasih was very cordial & friendly with his female colleagues, nurses, but maintained a very decent relationship. He was not a flirt. However, just his personality and knowing how many women had secret crushes on him, I could have been insecure, if it was not my own strong resolve to not be a “shakki wife” I had seen very close growing up in Delhi, some extended family members being very insecure of their spouse, and how much of a hell they had made their own lives, and also of their spouses. Even before I had met Fasih, I had decided I am not going to be so, no matter even if my husband to be would be a ‘cheapster’. Instead of being insecure, I will either live with him or walk out. Never be insecure and continue to live with him. And then I married Fasih. I must say I was lucky he was a decent man. But my being confident, an equal partner who was not insecure of female colleagues or friends, earned his love and respect more. He reciprocated the same way with my friends.I later taught the same lesson to my daughter. My father had also given me an advice, which came out very handy. He told me to be an equal partner, like your mother, and it needs to be worked on with commitment and to not become a liability to your husband in an alien land. Marriage is about partnership, and sharing responsibilities, not burden one person with all the physical or moral responsibilities. He advised me, that since I was going to be a professional myself, also to be financially independent. According to him, the biggest source of abuse/exploitation comes when one partner is financially in control and the other is dependent. One more very important rule, which actually was implemented and enoforced by Fasih was, to never air our arguments and disagreements in public. And take all our family decisions close doors without any interference from either families. The decision to move to Canada for kids higher education, while Fasih worked for establishing Taj was a joint decision. Many in the family did not like the idea of a split family but Fasih stood by, “We have to make sacrifices for children’s future too.” Another very important reason for our harmonious relationship was that we both realized that we were two headstrong people in a marriage and both had strong dreams. His dream was mainly what later come out to be Taj, but being a mother, my dreams shifted from personal/proffessional goals to best possible options of life and education to my children. Fasih had absolutely no ego. He told me a gazillion times, my success or growth did not make his jealous or insecure and that he wanted to see me grown to the best of my capability. He actually told that he had idolized a strong professor in his college time Madam Aftab and wished his wife to be strong and dynamic like her. He offered me to be the CEO of Taj in April 2015, but my stance was “No, you have put in your years of dreams, sweat and labor into it. You will be it’s CEO.” Him: “But you are the backbone of this project.” Me: “But you are the dreamer and the soul of Taj.” What an irony, now in 2020 I will be it’s CEO, while Fasih, ofcourse will remain the soul of this beautiful dream of his. One important rule we had in our house was to not make India Pakistan an ego issue and fight on it. It merits a separate blog. Let me again reiterate here, we were far from an ideal couple that never faught and was always hunky dory. Nope. We had our share of arguments, and disagreements, but for major decisions in our life, we stood by each other. And kept acknowledging each others support. Though I wish I had convinced him to not go to Karachi in May 2020, but I am so proud that he exercise his free will and chose to go back to serve his people. Fasih has left big shoes to fill in. I hope I am able to to do justice to it.We hardly have any photos of our wedding in Delhi as the photographer had spoiled all the rolls with a flawed camera. We do have a beautiful video preseved though. Below is one poor quality pic from 29 January 1990 our wedding day
On 2nd Eid day, we were invited to a lunch by one of Fasih’s cousin. It was 42 days after Fasih’s passing away. Ismail and I went to the lunch, as it was an opportunity to bond with Fasih’s extended family. Since all the extended family is extremely shaken, one of the cousins after greetings, started talking to me about her medical condition, as she was pretty unwell. In the conversation, I mentioned about Fasih, in some relation to the medical condition. She paused and told me she deliberately did not mention “Bobby Bhai” because she did not have the courage to talk about him, and hence avoided it. I could relate to her sentiments, as I must have done the same in a similar situation with someone else- avoid bringing up the tragedy. But to me, being in Fasih’s extended family, alone, without Fasih or even his mention felt awkward. I felt comforted bringing Fasih in the conversation, and then others also joined in. And it ended up being a nostalgic conversation about how Fasih was just here a month ago, and related stories. I had no clue at that time of how important this conversation was.
Later when the bereavement counselor gave me some matierials to read, it read how many people, out of embarrassment or to not hurt, do not mention the person who has passed away to the bereaved family. This is actually counterproductive and actually has a name in psychology called Mum Effect. And it actually feels like a ‘second death’ of that person, by eliminating him/her from the conversation. Talking about the deceased always gives comfort to the family, no matter how painful it must have been.
The printout that the grief counselor gave me had very interesting points about how to condole with the greiving family (which now I have enough strength to share). It narrates what to say and what not to say to the bereaved:
1. DO NOT SAY nothing at all. Offer simple heartfelt condolences. It’s understandable to feel tongue-tied and at a loss, then end up not doing anything at all out of fear of hurting the grieving person. But even the smallest and most sincere gestures are appreciated. 2. DO NOT SAY “what can I do for you?” It not only looks fake, but adds burden to the greiving side. Instead, of asking, “Can I get you coffee?” give a choice which is easier, “I am getting coffee, do you want with sugar or without sugar.” Or like in desi culture, just show up with food, instead of asking for it. I will share a personal example here. My lovely and sensitive friend called me third day as she would visit everyday, “I am coming to your place. Do you want anything? “ Me: Yes. Get me Fasih.” So next time she called me she said, I am in Walmart, what do you need from the groceries?” 3. DO NOT ASK: How did he/she die? Instead of being too inquisitive, wait. If they have to share, they will tell themselves. – (This is something we desis need to change.) 4. DO NOT SAY: “We all have to die one day.” This feels like trivializing the pain of the bereaved family. It does not give any comfort. I agree. Like I remember being told the same thing, and what popped up in my mind was, “But you are alive right now.” 5. DO NOT SAY: ‘At least…” At least he did not suffer for long” or “At least he did not have kids.” etc. According to psychologists, these statements do “actually come out of a concern to fix things and make the person feel better.” But no qualifying statement can take away the pain of losing someone you love. 6. In situations like COVID currently: DO NOT SPIN conspiracy theories- “Like doctor must have mismanaged,” or “maybe he went late to the hospital”, or “he did not have covid, but doctors labelled him so.” These kind of consolations only further traumatize the grief striken family members. Fatima and I have personally heard this: “You should not have insisted Fasih to be admitted to hospital. Falana falana got well staying at home. Dhimkana went to hospital and died.” Our beloved is gone. Talking ignorant theories will not bring him back or do any improvement to the grieving family. 7. DO SAY: Show that you’ll be there for the person that day and for years down the road. “The road is long and it’s often later in the grieving process when people need the most support from friends and family.” 8. DO NOT SAY: “He/She is in a better place.” But for the family they would rather have their deceased person with them. Am surprised at point 8, as this is what most of people with faith find comfort in this belief.
It has been a great learning experience for us too. Unfortunately, learning it a hard way though. Everyone is well meaning when they condole, though many of us, including myself, hardly know what is right to say and what not.
Sharing an interesting cusp of medicine and poetry: A cardiologist friend who is also into shair-o-shairi had long ago related the follow shair to the ECG readings: Normal vs. VFs
Zindagi kya hai anasir mein zahur-e tarteeb Maut kya hai inhi ajza ka pareshan hona.
My last post turned out to be too emotional for many friends. I must admit I just pour my heart out. I do not wish to make people cry on it. This has never been an intent of the posts. I admire how Fatima writes more positive posts celebrating her father. Today I will try to be less gloomy and try my best to show the real ‘drama’ that our life was known to be, even though I feel terrible for the absence of all this drama from our lives. How will life go on?
Fatima wrote yesterday about how her Dad was not a hugger, or expressive emotionally, but had million other ways to show his love in the family. I am the exact opposite. To the extent that my son calls me a “drama” at times. And both kids have often told me to, “Grow up Ammi.”
The reason I remained so was because Fasih let me be me. But I was constantly after him, nagging to change certain things. He would at times get annoyed. Like I always pushed kids, “Go hug Papa.” And when they did cling to him would say, “Hug him tight.” And his reaction would be do typical, :Daba diya mujhe.” every single time. Even when he learned to hug, he would just encircle his arms around the kids very loosely. But kids were trained to cling to him like a monkey. Tight.
As Fatima also shared, Fasih was s soft parent, i was the evil one. I policed what kids bought from the mall on a trip with their father, and duped their Papa with fancy demands. I remember once they came back with a toy Microscope replica which was pretty expensive. I got furious and told Fasih. “Why do you comply to their unreasonable demands?” Kids were upset. They told Fasih, “Ammi is evil.” He told them, “Kuch nai hota. Ammi works hard for all of us, buss thori drama queen hain. Dekha nahin mayn bhi tou bardaasht kerta huun.”
Fasih was the type of father who wouldn’t say No to any demand from kids. They knew it well. But he was tactful too. He knew he could refuse through me. So he would tell them, “Okay I will talk to Ammi.” Kids knew now it means a “No”. . A million times kids ganged up against me and tried to include Papa. But he would just stay a mediator.
Overall, though a very bold and fearless man, Fasih was shy of emotional expressions, especially in public. Probably this is how desi men are raised. He carried a very sophisticated and sober persona while in early days I was more reactive and expressive in public. I mellowed a lot over the years. But remained the same spontaneuos within the family unit. It wasn’t difficult at all for me to tease him, hug him or say “Love you Babloo” in front of kids or family. He would return a radiant smile buss. I would burst out openly in disagreements too. Fasih was too sophisticated to be so expressive of disagreementd in public. He did share his disapproval or disagreements only in private and at the most inside the house with kids around.
Once, a week before Fatima’s wedding, in Dec 2016, Fasih’s neice Aleema’s wedding events were going on. The extended family gathered for lunch after Nikah at Fasih’s elder brothers place, someone noticed there were two garlands left in the bag unused. Some naughty girl suggested, “Who wants to renew their vows and have a Var Maala?” Someone suggested the parents of Aleema, but perhaps they didn’t come forward. Then came our turn “Bobby Chachu and Ilmana Chachi how about you?” As usual, I had no hesitation and as usual, Fasih was blushing. But out of jest and for fun, I put the garland around Fasih and hugged him tight in the crowded room. People couldn’t believe what they saw with their eyes and young kids all stood around, smiling and clicking pics like paparazzi. It was impromptu, but the kids managed to capture the “drama” moments on camera. I could hear Ismail remark in the back, “Trust Ammi to do this.” I said sorry to Fasih for embarrassing him in public. But he later told me it was fine and he enjoyed it. And only I could do such a spontaneous drama. 😀
Fasih would often tell me, “Shukr karo mayn mil gya tumko. Koi aur aisa waisa mil jata tou pata chalta.” And my standard reply would be, “Kyun milta koi aisa waisa?”
Sigh ! These are all sweet memories now. How much did we presume that we will grow old, frail fighting, arguing, teasing and yet taking decisions together. I still dont understand the logic behind sudden, premature demise. I dont.
Below are some of the pics of ‘drama’ moments as kids called them.
Eight weeks today since we lost Papa. Strange how it feels like such a long time and still as if he hasn’t gone either and will somehow come back to life and respond to any of the messages I’ve left him on text, Messenger or WhatsApp. When Papa was here in Manila, I was only 2-3 weeks postpartum. Knowing how much Papa wanted to explore, I would leave Rahma with my mom and MIL for an hour or two some days and go with Papa to the nearby mall on a tricycle, go far to the other edge of the city in Taguig to book Rahma’s Aqiqah, or go to the pet store to get his dog some toys. It was a tough time for me, but going out with Papa without Rahma and a diaper bag felt empowering and relaxing at the same time. In his profile even, he has saved his picture from our compound here in Manila as his cover photo. Now even when we come back to Pakistan or move away, this place will hold a dear place for me – first, because Rahma was born here and second, because this is the last place I met Papa and hugged him before he passed away. Had I known it was the last time, I would have hugged a little longer or wouldn’t let him go altogether.
Growing up, like most dads of his generation, Papa was not very expressive. He would get us gifts and get us everything we wanted, but would not say he loved us or hugged much. Ammi was always a hugger, but not Papa. Even though most of the disciplining was done by Ammi and most often she was a bad cop, Papa was the good cop. He would always come to mush things over when we would be mad at Ammi. He would say, “Don’t mind what your Ammi is saying. Don’t get upset. She only says things because she loves us. Look at me, I’m also tolerating na.” (Sounds better in Urdu) With a huge smile, his last sentence would always make us laugh. But since Papa wasn’t a hugger, Ammi would always tell us “Go hug your dad.” Almost every day. Initially, I remember us being awkward, etc, but soon it became habit.
By the time I was 10 and Ismail was 8, hugging everyone in the morning became a habit in the family which we didn’t break even until I was a mother myself. Though Papa wasn’t a hugger at start, we knew he loved us and would not say no to a hug at all – and so he ended up becoming a hugger himself. For some, a hug from their dad might not be a big deal, but it’s the little things that you remember the most when they’re gone.
Praying we have a group hug again some day, Papa. 💕
Its Friday again. 8 weeks since the fateful Friday of 26 June 2020. Yesterday 21 August was Papa’s departure date 22 years ago in 1998. We have been carrying an ache in our hearts that Papa left this world young at 65. He had retired 6 months ago, but being a workaholic loaded himself with work post retirement. At the time he passed away, he had 2 partially written books on his computer and several research proposals. Now the ache of losing him young has been amplified and intensified with Fasih passing even younger, at 59. He wasn’t even retired. He was at the peak of his career rather, which he envisioned to go on another 25 years. He wanted to be an old cynic doctor who kept seeing patients even when, as he would joke, “wore a galice to hold his pants and walked with a stick.” He wasn’t being unrealistic. His grandfather had lived active, healthy life till mid 90s and father was amost 88 and working till the last day.
During Papa’s time, Fasih chose to spend all his entire 45 days of vacation in Delhi with my Ammi and brothers. There was Ramazan and Eid in that duration which we spent with our family. Most of late-nights were spent playing carrom board at home, watching soccer, talking about Papa and Fasih often consoled us by saying how fortunate we were to be the children of an intelligent self made man and, heirs of his brilliant DNA. Fasih deeply respected Papa. Although very different in personalities, they had a wonderful bond. Papa being finicky on Urdu pronunciation would often ask Fasih to say, “Say Qeema. Not Keema.” Fasih would smilingly repeat. With this in the background Papa often introduced Fasih as a very obedient son-in-law. “Bahut farmaberdar damaad hai.” . Fasih was a polished gentleman, Papa was a blunt Delhiwala, and I have taken on him for sure. He was the one who told Fasih in a matter of fact manner, “Ilmana se kabhi jhoot na bolna. Jo bhi ho acha bura ek doosre se share kerna. Buss pher koi problem nahin hogi tumko.” To me as a father he had advised, “You are an educated woman. Be an equal partner. And now that you have decided to marry a Pakistani, own the decision. Do not dream of dragging him to India and uproot him.” This was a pragmatic advice Papa had given based on some related incidents in the extended family. And believe me these gems of advice laid the foundation of trust that Fasih and I built for each other. Fasih felt very supported by Papa. Another great reason for our trusting relationship was we took decisions as a family unit, whether it was to move kids to Canada or build Taj in Karachi, despite what people around would comment. Fasih’s pet peeve was, “Suno sabki, karo apni.” Fasih, having seen how much a workaholic Papa had taken retirement to heart would say it aloud, “One should never retire. I dont plan to retire in my life.” Fasih’s own father, a physician, never retired and kept seeing patients till his last day at his age almost 88 or so. Fasih did his last pulmonology clinic on Friday 19th June. He had at leat 2 dozen patients that day, some of whom had come from far flung areas including Balochistan. A friend who had visited him that day later told me, “That was the first time i saw him in stress and he mentioned his brothers covid suffering and tough recovery. “ On Saturday morning he had gone into isolation with bodyache, and was in hospital by Sunday evening. He resisted my insistance to go to hospital, “On Monday I have to pick up the ambulance that is ready in the showroom.” I refused to listen. “No. That can wait.” I am glad Fatima who too was on the same group call agreed, “Yes Papa. Listen to Ammi.” He relented.
I still don’t understand what went wrong. He got admitted when oxygen saturation was 88. Not breathless.Xray was not too bad at admission. He walked into the ER. Got all meds on time, all care on time. He was recieving the WHO protocol in the best healthcare set up. He kept messaging us in the family group till Wednesday morning, “All good here. How about you?” But his ventricular wall muscles started to ditch him. They began irregular contractions( PVCs) and ultimately led to cardiac arrest. What a stab in the back by the wretched virus that chose to attack the very heart that beat for others with empathy, for past 59 years. A heart that was strong and could let him climb stairs upto 12 floors in one go without being breathless. A heart that felt no fear, ever. A heart that was always in gratitude for everything, yes everything. These spiraling thoughts suck me up into a horrible tunnel of abysmal darkness. It makes me paranoid that this virus has some personal grudge against me. Yes personally against me. It is out to get people I love and care for. Honestly so many times I try to tell this virus, “FYI, The only person I really cared for is gone. Get out of my sight now.” But this wrteched virus knows I have loved ones, who I need to keep reminding, “Stay off this beast. For heavens sake, stay off this beast.” Yes, no matter even if I sound out of my mind, please stay off this killer virus. This wretched virus destroyed my beautiful family. https://www.facebook.com/quraishi.ilmana/posts/3563697423642800
Last night Fasih asked me in the dream: Aaj kya pakaya hai? I told him: Nargisi Koftas. Fasih: Astaghfirullah. Koftey se tou mujhey koft hoti hai. This is a real conversation that we must have had at least half a dozen times in our 30 years of married life. Yesterday was merely a replay of an old memory in sleep.
Fasih was a fussy foodie. He loved most delicacies but detested some others a big deal. Koftas, which happen to be my favourite, Fasih thoroughly detested them. He did not like qeemas either. He detested chicken too. Found it flavorless. That was our common dislike.
Fish and seafood were his favourites. Easy availability of lobsters in Costco, his request on his quarterly visits to Canada would be everything sea food, including Shrimp biryani, lemon fish, lobster baked, crab meat salad. In Pakistan, he would go to Jamshoro just to eat Palla(a Sindhi fish cooked at the banks of river Indus).
We had an inside joke at home. With both boys being meat eaters, whenever I made veges and dal, or rajma or paneer, all favourites of us girls, Fatima and me, Ismail.would ask Fasih, “Why did you have to marry an Indian?” And Fasih would get all patriotic as if meat eating is synonymous with being a Pakistani. 😀 He would reply, “Ismail lets go get food from xyz. Today imagine your ammi is Afghani/Turkish/Iranian. Let them eat paneer or rajma. And we won’t share any with them.” Lines were clearly drawn. Though Fatima also at times crossed over to join the boys. It was never easy to feed veges to Fasih, because he always had the option to ‘order’ out without much noise.
The last 11 weeks were rather different, for some weird reason. He ate all the veges I made and even enjoyed them. Some FB friends may remember I had posted, “Boys are enjoying veges in lockdown.” Not only did he enjoy but even told his cousin, “Ilmana is feasting us with some good vegetarian dishes in lockdown.” I was so glad, finally I have ringed my man into enjoying vegetables. ❤
There are some dishes I think I made only because Fasih loved them, and I may never bother to make them again, as I dont believe in putting too much labor into cooking for myself. And kids particularly don’t fancy them, for example Paaye. Cooking is fun, only if its done for loved ones. Not for oneself. I can happily fill myself with dahi and toast.
Another interesting thing about Fasih being food fussy in early days was his idea of a dinner. Pizza or Pasta were not dinner. And since I had learned very typical Italian way of making Pizza dough or pasta sauces including Pesto from scratch from my Italian cousins, I put in a lot of labor in making either of them, accompanying them most of the time with soups and salads. In early days in Makkah, a full pizza or pasta dinner, that all of us including kids enjoyed and filled themselves to the brim in the evening. A couple of hours later he would ask, “Aj khane mein kya hai?” I would be scandallized, “Babloo, didn’t we just have the dinner at 8?” He would softly and innocently ask, “So that pizza was dinner?” I would loudly reply, “Yes. But are you hungry? There is still lots left in the fridge.” Fasih: “No, I am not hungry. But just asked what was for dinner.” However, 30 years is a long long time. Over a few years, he got used to what was “our kind of dinner” in Fasih family.
Fasih was a mango lover. I know most people love mangoes, but i have yet to see anyone so fanatic about mangoes. Pakistani Anwer Rataul and Indian Alfonso(available in Makkah) were his favourites but living in Makkah, he enjoyed mangoes 12 months a year imported from all over the world. In winter we got mangoes from South Africa and South America. These mangoes had no flavor or aroma. But Fasih would still binge on them and even relish them like a religious duty. He would search for mangoes from different countries. “Begum aaj Peru ka aam laya huun.” “Yeh Ghana ke mango hai.” I would joke, “if someone wrapped an eggplant with mango skin you will still enjoy it.” And he wouldn’t merrily disagree. “Yes mango mango hota hai. Saari duniya ke mangoes taste kerne haiN mujhe.” However he was equally picky about aromas and flavors of Indian Pakistani mangoes 🥭🥭🥭🥭. He detested canned kesar mango pulp, “It tastes preservative.” Those who’ve visited dinners hosted by us know a Mango Rose dessert, a secret mango mousse recipe that is a favourite in Fasih household. Fasih wouldn’t let me make it with canned mango pulp and insisted to use fresh flavors. Below is the picture of a mango-rose, a dessert, that was developed in Fasih household as a symbol of Fasih family’s love for mangos and high standards of presentation of food. In Karachi he enjoyed sweet and sour Sindhri mango cubes with rabri. There couldnt be a more royal treat.
His next favourite fruit was pineapple. Not the canned ones, but the fresh whole pineapples- he would bring a whole pineapple from COSTCO, leave it few days to ripen and then meticulously peel and slice it himself. It followed a tyical dialogue, which he repeated a gazillion times, perhaps after every chore, ” Yeh tou ho gaya. Begum, ab aur koi khidmat?” 😀 He wanted to travel to Malaysia again as that is where he found the sweetest pineapples. In our last visit to Key West, did he also find delicious Cuban pineapples. 🍍 Fasih’s love for fruits merits a separate blog.
And ofcourse good steeped tea and strong coffee were our common addictions. Having the last cup of chai before sleep was a religious ritual. When we did nothing, we drank tea or coffee together as a passtime. 😍 I haven’t had the last cup of tea ever since Fasih left. 😦 Link: https://www.facebook.com/quraishi.ilmana/posts/3557725787573297
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