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Archive for September 14, 2020

A Big Thank You to Family & Friends !

Dear extended family & friends,

It is time to thank you all for the heavy lifting you did to support Fatima, Ismail and myself. Some of you expressed your shock, some of you said nothing as tbh there was nothing that could be said to make a difference. I also am extremely humbled that many of you, far and wide waited to read my posts on Fasih and our arduous journey post the fateful Friday 10 weeks ago.
Each time i posted, I promised myself, this will be my last. Our tragedy was ours, why should others endure it? But the love and appreciation Fatima, Ismail and I recieved gave us the license to go on and on and on.

I hope we as Fasih’s wife and children have been able to do justice to celebrate the human he was- so full of life, energy, commitment to his profession, his family, his friends, his country, his faith and to general humanity.

There is a poem by Faiz:
Ku’ch Ishaq Ki’ya Ku’ch Kaam Ki’ya.
Who Log Bohat Khush Qismat Th’ay,
Jo Ishaq Ko Kam Samujhty Th’ay,
Ya Kam Say Aashqi Karty Th’ay,
Hum Jeety Jee Masroof Ra’hay,
Kuch Ishaq Kiya Kuch Kam Kiya,
Kam Ishaq Kay Aary Aata Ra’ha,
Or Ishaq Say Kam Uljh’ta Ra’ha,
Ph’ir Aakh’er Tang Aaker Hum Nay,
Dono Ko Adhoora Cho’d Diya’.

(Translation):Loved a little, Worked a little
Those were very fortunate people,
Who considered Love an obligation,
Or they just loved their task,
I remained busy all my life,
Loved a little, worked a little,
Sometimes love was a snag in the way of my work,
While sometimes duty didn’t allow me to love with passion,
Ultimately I got upset of the situation,
And left both my love and my work incomplete.

Fasih was NOT what Faiz narrates.
Though he had plans for next 25 years when his life was brutally & abruptly interrupted by the wretched COVID, he lived and worked hard enough to see his dream turn into a reality. As if, after that, his mission was over. And he had to leave.

Fasih was not much into poetry. His one and only favourite poetry/book was: The Prophet by Kahlil Gibran. In many of the cards, letter or messages he sent me in past 35 years, he would quote a couple of verses from Kahlil Gibran on marriage, children, work, life, death etc.
Like when discussing about some matters of our two children, he would quote:
“You may give them your love but not your thoughts,
For they have their own thoughts.
You may house their bodies but not their souls…”

I would joke with him, “Deewan-e- Ghalib bhi parh lou”.
He would reply, “Woh tum parh rahi ho naa, kaafi hai.”

Though he never expressed it, but I think Kahlil Gibrans progressive poetry and high standards of idealism in it, impacted him a great deal since his student life.

This piece of poetry below beautifully fits the philosophy of his life which can be summarized as three words- commitment, commitment, commitment- be it to us as family, to Pulmonology, to Pakistan or to Allah.

Procrastination, unfulfilled promises, incomplete tasks, telling lies and lack of sincerity to ones cause were Fasih’s worst triggers.

Having shared life with him for 30 years in matrimony, I wish and pray that all three of us, Fatima, Ismail and I imbibe at least a fraction of this sense of commitment in our lives and work.

Here it goes:
Do not love half lovers
Do not entertain half friends
Do not indulge in works of the half talented
Do not live half a life
and do not die a half death
If you choose silence, then be silent
When you speak, do so until you are finished
Do not silence yourself to say something
And do not speak to be silent
If you accept, then express it bluntly
Do not mask it
If you refuse then be clear about it
for an ambiguous refusal is but a weak acceptance
Do not accept half a solution
Do not believe half truths
Do not dream half a dream
Do not fantasize about half hopes
Half a drink will not quench your thirst
Half a meal will not satiate your hunger
Half the way will get you no where
Half an idea will bear you no results
Your other half is not the one you love
It is you in another time yet in the same space
It is you when you are not
Half a life is a life you didn’t live,
A word you have not said
A smile you postponed
A love you have not had
A friendship you did not know
To reach and not arrive
Work and not work
Attend only to be absent
What makes you a stranger to them closest to you
and they strangers to you
The half is a mere moment of inability
but you are able for you are not half a being
You are a whole that exists to live a life
not half a life.”

Fasih has left big shoes for us to fill in. Please keep sending your good vibes to carry on forward, the responsibilities he left for us, without procrastination and fear.

Warm regards,
Ilmana, Fatima & Ismail.

Farewell to Dr. Syed Fasihuddin – 37

Dear Babloo,
Its Friday again.
A fateful day that changed our lives forever.
Its been really tough all these past weeks for different reasons.

Past few days navigating offices have been extremely challenging. Its time for renewal of car insurance and they want your signature. I did not have the strength nor the wlll to tell the agent that you are no more.
She called me again. “Madam I have not recieved signatures from the main driver. Plase expedite or you will go past the 15 September deadline.”
I told her you are not here.
She replied, “You can courier him and he will send back.”
I asked her, “Can you transfer the insurance with myself as principle driver and remove his name?”
Her: May i ask if you are separated or divorced? In that case….
Me(I interrupted her): Ummmm….. I am sorry but he is no more. He passed away…..
Her: I am so sorry Ma’am. Why did you not tell me this. I apologize for all these arguments.
Me: Yeah, its so hard to say it out from my mouth.
Her: I understand. Now if you wish to remove his name from the insurance, you can submit a death certificate.

The next call was to Ali, our car mechanic.
“Ali bhai car mein oil change kerwana hai. Ismail gaari le ker aa jayega.”
Ali: Baji Dr. Sb abhi hain?
Mujhe pher se unko check kerana tha. Garmi mein asthma pher barh gya.
Me: Ali apko ek buri khaber deni hai. Dr. Sb chale gaye?
“Baji, kya naraz ho Dr sb se ? “
“Nahin Ali bhai Dr Sb ka inteqal.ho gya.
Baji, aap kya keh rahi ho? Woh tou jawan admi the. Itne healthy ke unko dekh ker rashq aaye. Achanak? Kya huwa?”
“Jee Ali Bhai Covid. Mareez dekh rahe the.”
“Baji pehli dafa suna hai kisi ki death COVID se. Bahut bara saneha hai. Mujhe tou kuch samajh nahin aa raha. Gaari ki fikr na karein. Aap meri behn hain.”

Are you reading it my dear Babloo? These are the kind of goosebumps inducing conversations I am dealing with these days. Do you watch over these conversations? Does it feel awkward to you?
Or do you also think like others, “God tests those who can endure it.”
Well yes I am facing it with endurane and without breaking down most of the time. But I can take no more. I want to give up.

Please tell God if He is around, that i dont need this endurance or strength that is put to such a severe test. Please request God to have mercy on me. My heart weeps when insurance, banks, mortgage all ask to “remove” your name.

Am I going to be entirely on my own now? Ofcourse you are not there, but now even your name will not accompany mine in the car insurance, bank account and other documents. What cruel game plan is this?

Please inform all your happy buddies up there that passing of a loved one is not a single event in this world. At every new step, on every new document, your demise is reenacted by “removal” from it. And your name is buried again in the papers I sign which notifies your demise.

I dread for the time when saying, “My husband is not alive” will become a normal conversation devoid of a heartwrench when spouse information is asked.
Anyways, Babloo, if you are really happy there, it will at least be worth bearing this trauma.
Stay happy, stay blessed up there.
We are figuring out how to live on our own.
Just keep sending a bit of your emotional intelligence to us.



Papa and Ismail- 2

“My son my son.” As I call him inspired by Tom & Jerry.

Ismail (visibly upset): Ammi.
Me: Yes
Him: Did u read that email from the CA?
Me: Yes. Kya huwa?
Him: He wrote, “Dr. Fasih’s widow”.
Me: So? Him: It doesnt feel nice.
Me: Its okay. We have to face the reality.
Him: Could he not have used some other word?
Me: You mean Dr. Fasih’s friend, Dr. Fasih’s fiancee, Dr. Fasih’s wife? But I have already graduated from those statuses. See?
Him: Pagal.
Me: Kya bola. Him;
Pagal hain aap.
Me: Chalo, give me a hug.

We hug each other. Hugs have been his ultimate first aid since a baby. Whenever he fell or injured himself he would run to me,
“Ammi Cho Lag gayee.”
I would kiss the “cho” area and give him a bear hug and all will heal instantly and he will run away playing.

My boys !

Farewell to Dr. Syed Fasihuddin- 35

When we got married and I came to Pakistan, I would tell Fasih in all seriousness, “You are my Pakistan.” I had always wished in my heart, and almost knew because of how fit Fasih was and how laid back I am in looking after my health, weight etc that I will die before Fasih. This was the best scenario as I could not imagine being in Pakistan without my Pakistan aka Syed Fasihuddin. I had embraced Pakistan for him. And whenever people asked me, about how I adjusted well in the cross border marriage, I gave credit to the generous heart and accommodation of my husband. I wasn’t exaggerating. It couldn’t have been possible without a carimg husband. I have seen Indian Pakistani couples, even living in a third country, fighting all their lives and ruining their domestic peace. To a couple of such families, even Fasih and I acted as intermediaries, but nothing improved and ultimately one of the family fell apart. We did fight or argue on many matters, but never ever was it on India Pakistan. Credit goes to Fasih squarely in the early days.
Later I learned to be rational and objective rather than be emotional.

A lot of credit also goes to my pragmatic father and mentor too, who was a professor of political science, international relations, in Delhi University, who drilled this into me, that politics of countries are not to be brought into personal relationships and must be looked at objectively. His dear colleague Yogesh Puri uncle can well relate to that. Because we were raised in a household where both parents were political science teachers, we siblings were raised on political science lingo. haha.
As Papa told me one of the first few words i learned as a toddler was “PhD”. And whenever a Phd scholar of Papa came home, I would say, “Papa, PhD aaya hai.” 😃 His dear colleague Yogesh Puri uncle can well relate to that. 🙂

In the last long drive as Ismail was chatty and we were talking about ‘papa’ ,
I asked Ismail:
Me: What if I had died and Papa was alive?
Him: Papa would have moved on faster than you.
Me: Stoopid. This wasn’t the answer I wanted to hear.
Ismail: I know.
Me: So why did you say that?
Him: Ammi you know Pspa was less expressive than you.
Me: That doesn’t mean he wouldn’t have missed me.
Him: I never said he wouldn’t have missed you. But he would have missed all the jokes, tessing and arguments you guys had. But he would still be normal.
Me: Do you think I am not normal.
Him: Yes. You are too anxious and depressed.

To be fair to Ismail he is spot on. Fasih had far higher level of emotional intelligence than me. He wpuld never live in denial and to any setbacks he would say, “Face the reality.”
To my anticipatory worries, he would say “You worry will not stop it from happening if it has to happen. So don’t spoil your present for your future.”
His own parents had passed away and he faced their loss very gracefully. He always spoke about them in love snd positvity snd organized their death anniversaries for the entire extended family in his own home. His mother had endured a decade long illness before she died in her early sixties. I saw him cry first few days. He often talked about her patience and endurance as a home maker. He would mention often of how delicious his mothers food was especially her Murgh musallam and Fish Salan. He never compared my cooking with his mother’s like many husbands do.
After her passing he dedicated his positive energy in honoring her instead of sulking. The dream project he created in Pakistan Taj Consultants Clinics was named after her- Tajunnisa. His mother.

His father lived for almost 22 years after her. All his kids were happily married. He had remarried and Fasih stood by his father in his decision. And remained very close to his father and the new mother. He would often say, “Papa was the primary caregiver for Amma in her illness for 10 years. He gave her baths, changed her clothes, fed her himself and looked after her medications. He deserved to have his normal life again after her.”
Unfortunately Fasihs father passed away just 6 months before Taj was inaugurated in April 2015. He so wanted his Papa to inaugurate it. He cried in the public when he spoke st the inaugural speech remembering his patents.
Later to honor his father ( Dr. S M Sabihuddin), he named his own Pulmonology section as Dr. Sabih’s Chest Unit. So to be fair to Ismail once again, yes Fasih would have been a more emotionally intelligent partner that I am.
Anyways, we all have our pathways of grief.“Ofcourse I can’t be great as Papa, that’s why I am left behind to miss him.” I told Ismail.
Ismail: “Whatever….. ” and gave his signature smile.


Papa & Ismail – 1

This post is about the price one pays for being friends with ones kids. And ofcourse kids ganging up or siding with Papa against me wasn’t rare. 🤣Yesterday as Ismail and I went for a long drive, we chatted mostly about ‘Papa’ as I refer to Fasih when talking to kids. It feels like a special moment to see Ismail smile in these days and even more gratifying to see his sense of humor return back.
In all seriousness I told him, “Ismail, I am so proud of you and your sensitive comment when you told Loveen, “It is so hard to see my mother living her life without my father…. it hurts.”
I continued, “he was not just my husband he was my close friend.”
Ismail smiled a nasty smile. I knew something was coming up..
He replied, “Yeah you were his boss too.”
Me: “Kya, kya.”
Ismail, “Papa was so cool. He let you boss over him.”
Me: “Listen, thats not bossing. Thats called being equal partners.”
Him: “But you were slightly more bossy.”
Him: smiles again. I knew something was coming again… ” you miss him because you were his boss.”
“Thats lame Ismail.”
“Yes. Am your son. You also make lame jokes.”

“Listen if i was really bossy, I wouldn’t let him go to Karachi at all. Did I stop him by force? I only begged. Bosses don’t beg.”
“But in the house matters you acted as if you were the boss.”
“Ofcourse that was my department.”

Just to go into the background, this is where Ismail gets his ideas from.

He was barely 3 yrs and went to a kindergarten play group. The teacher had given some homework which Ismail began doing in the school.
Mrs. Aqeel(Ismails kindergarten teacher): Ismail keep it in the bag. You have to do it at home.
Ismail: Ammi ke ghar?
Teacher: Woh apka bhi ghar hai Ismail.
Ismail: No Aunty. Ammi Papa ko kehti hain, “Yeh mera ghar hai.” 😃

Ismail was about 9 or 10.
Me( loudly from the kitchen): Ismail, its your turn today. Fill up the water bottles and put them in the fridge.
Ismail: Ammi. Don’t order me. I am not your husband. 🤣

With these true incidences in the background you can imagine how empowered aka bossy I was at home. Lolllz.
Fasih had told me he had idolized a female professor in his Medical College who was known by Madam Aftab. She was a strong, bold woman.
He believed, “its easier life with strong women as they do the heavy lifting in family responsibilities.”


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