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.”
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.