Sometimes even I am surprised at my capacity to endure Fasih’s loss without throwing tantrums. But then, the one who patiently endured my whining has quietly himself slipped away from the scene.
Culturally we are a community that believes in demonstrating our pains and pleasures loudly. But if the pain is beyond one’s capacity to bear, one loses the energy to express it aloud.
Many people who have met me in person, have remarked on my composure in the midst of all the turmoil of loss and relocation. If only I could bare open the 4 chambers of my heart, in some physical form to show it’s not all hunky-dory within. True, breakdowns have been few and getting even fewer, but it certainly is no measure of one’s intensity of pain. Probably it only represents extreme helplessness.
Let me admit, composure with self is a byproduct of extreme helplessness. Composure with near & dear ones is pure love. Composure with the rest is because the pain is too personal to broadcast aloud.
This time visiting Fasih, I smiled and whispered to him, “It’s okay Babloo, all I wish is that you are in peace and utmost happiness in the hereafter. I will not whine by your grave.” It’s funny, how just saying that I wont whine or annoy him anymore made me cry.
Fasih, Abdullah, Ismail all followed the script given by Fatima of Navy Blue suits. She was wearing grey and blue herself.
It was tough for me to find a blue saree in Karachi. Nevertheless Fatima and I went round but nothing seemed to click. So I had a flash. I dug up an old bananasi saree, that was grey with real Zari which was Ammi’s and she had passed it to me eons ago. Unfortunately its grey shade didn’t seem to match. Moreover it had patches of faded areas on the front. This plan failed.
Then I had another flash. I took the saree to the dyer and asked him, “Can this be dyed Navy blue?” He replied, “Baji saree tou pure silk hai dye ho jayegi, lekin Zari kharab ho jayegi. Yes Asli zari hai.” I told him to take the risk.
A few days later when Fatima and I went back to collect the saree, we were astonished. It had come out so stunningly bright. The dyer said he used some technique of cold dyeing to prevent zari from getting black. We just had to get a matching blouse. There couldn’t have been more coordinated saree than this old heirloom piece. No one even till date believes this navy blue saree is at least 40 years old, dyed and belonged to Ammi when I wore frocks.
How much efforts went into making my boys wear these seemingly well-coordinated dresses in Fatima’s wedding is a story worth sharing.
Both boys Fasih and Ismail were hellbent that they have to wear a black shervani in Fatima’s wedding becuase that is what fathers and brothers wear in daughter’s/sister’s wedding. On the other hand, Abdullah being another person who was steadfast on his choice, wanted to wear a plain black shervani as a groom on his own wedding. No embellishments, no embroidery, no glitter and even no fancy buttons. Just a Jinnah kind plain black shervani. Period. Not even Fatima could convince him otherwise.
Fasih, on the contrary had no issues with slight embroidery at the collar. So I told Fasih, ” Yaar, the dulha is wearing a plain shervani, how can you wear a fancier shervani than the groom?” He seemed to understand, “Okay then I will wear a plain black shervani too. Let Ismail make a fancier one.” Ismail, “Why would I wear a fancy one? Am I crazy?”
But I had some other ulterior plans. But I knew these boys are hard nuts to crack, and very difficult to ask them to digress from a stereotypical attire of a black shervani on daughter/sister’s wedding.
Me: “But why do you have to wear shervanis?” Fasih: “Pher kya pehnun? Suit? No. Shaadi has to be shervani. I was mean: “Btw its not your shaadi. It’s your daughter’s shaadi. You can wear something else too.” Fasih got annoyed, “Kya matlab? This is the tradition. And I WILL WEAR A BLACK SHERVANI. SO WILL ISMAIL.”
I knew I was out for a big confrontation. I had already bought the tusser kurtas and red waistcoats for both of them from Fab India, and it coordinated so well with Fatima’s gharara and my saree that Fatima and I both got very excited. Fatima, “But Ammi I can bet, Papa will NEVER agree to wear this.” Me: “I know naa. Thats the problem.” Fatima: “Then why did you get?” Me: “Because I found this combination so good that I could not resist. And then I got two sets both their sizes available. It made me even more convinced this is what they shoulds wear in your shaadi.” Fatima: “Good luck Ammi. Convincing Papa and Ismail to wear these kurta and waistcoats is a bigger challenge than convincing Abdullah to wear a shervani with fancy buttons.”
And finally when Abdullah’s gorgeous Mom arrived in Karachi and saw her son’s plain balck shervani, she vetoed it and got one which had some embellishment on buttons. And Abdullah couldn’t say a thing. Me: “So Abdullah’s problem is solved. I am worried for Papa and Ismail now. How do I convince them?“ Fatima shrugged her shoulders.
It took me one week of brainwashing to make Fasih convinced to even try the kurta and waist coat out, before going to order a black shervani. He wore it and stood in front of the full length mirror. I blurted out all the lovey dovey adjectives that I could to tell him how handsome a ‘model’ he looked. But ofcourse he was stuck, “But black shervani will look even better.”
Now it was Ismail’s turn. When I showed him the kurta and the waist coat, he threw a tantrum, “How could you choose the kurta for me? Why did I not go with you?” Me: “Beta, I bought it from Delhi in October when I went to see Ammi. How could you go with me?” Fatima: “Ismail, look, we will all coordinate our dresses. Ammi’s saree is same colors, and you and Papa will have identical dresses.” Ismail, “Okay, so what footwear do we wear with this?” Me: “Footwear you can choose. We will got to the market and buy of your choice.” Fatima: “I think an embroidered golden Peshawri Chappal will look good on it.“ So Ismail was easily taken care of.
I knew Fasih was still not convinced. So I thought of seriously making a compromise. Me: “Babloo, okay let’s do one thing. You wear shervani to recieve the baraat and then change into this kurta and waist coat during rukhsati.” Fasih got triggered. “What do you want? You want me to become a Bollywood hero? Change dresses in the shaadi?” Me: “So what do we do? I think these kurtas & waistcoats are really cool and will give a very different exotic look to the whole wedding.” Fasih did not say anything.
So next day, we took off with Ismail and Fasih to buy their matching Peshawri chappals. And both of them found really gorgeous footwear with golden embrodery. Back home. “Fasih lets try these kurtas with the chappals.” Ismail and Fasih both tried their outfits and by our luck, one of Fasih’s cousin suddenly arrived. His immediate reaction was, “This designer idea must be Bhabi’s. It looks gorgeous. Mazaa aa jayega shaadi mein.” Fasih did not say anything. So next day when I asked him, “Are you not going to go to give measurements for shervani,“ Fasih retorted, “What shervani? You ruined all the plans. Its okay, I will wear this kurta.” I felt genuinely sorry. “No Babloo, if you really feel hurt, please make a shervani. You can wear this kurta some other day. I just want you to be happy.” Fasih, “Leave it now. I dont have time to go for shervani measurement.” Me: “Thank you Babloo. I love you.” Fasih: “Buss khush ho gayein apni marzi chala keyyy?” I didn’t say a word, just hugged him. and whispered to myself, “Only the persistent succeed !”
How much do I miss this nagging and annoying Fasih. Oh God 😦
Fasih would often stop by at Edhi sb’s office at Kharader to chat, complain, whine, about the mess and reinvigorate himself to carry on the good fight.
All his life, our zakaat was exclusively given to Edhi trust. He would recommend all his friends and seniors who were retiring and getting depressed to volunteer their time and clinical skills at Edhi medical centres.
He had so many plans to work with him after inaugurating the clinic in 2015. But Edhi sb left the scene in 2016. Aah and now Fasih followed him behind in 2020.
Am sure they must be chatting in the paradise too, figuring out how to while away their time.
Am also sure they both must be missing the messed up Karachi and the opportunities it provides to kindred souls like the two of them to make a difference.
Another Friday. Its been 3 months now. Visited you my dear Fasih at the same time you bid goodbye to this world at 1:30PM. It was scorching sun over our heads. And you were deep asleep.
I am sure your spirit dwells comfortably in an exalted happy place where cool breeze caresses your hairlocks, where the incense of motia far more pure than the ones at your bedside, flirts with your senses, where your soft feet are cuddled by velvet lawns devoid of plastic garbage bags littered all over, where rain drops bring ticklish delight instead of distress and where there is no load shedding that leaves you awake, lonely and anxious in the wee hours of night. And where you are having a party time with your Papa, Amma, extended family and friends like Dr. Mahmood, Dr. Furqan and other near and dear ones, sitting beside the soothing stream of mature wine, beneath the shade of tender grapevines.
And perhaps a lot lot more tranquility and eternal bliss, beyond our trivial imaginations.
The painting below by some unknown painter is called, “First moments in Heaven”.
Dear Nana, I hope you are watching me grow as you would have wanted me to: active, healthy and always happy (other than when I’m teething). I missed you on my birthday in person, but Baba & Mama kept telling me that you’re here. They also keep telling me that you’re watching me when I make a mess on my highchair and also when I wake up in the middle of the night fresh as a cucumber. I hope they’re right. I also hear that you used to tell little kids that you are a doctor with injections ready in your pockets, but I know you wouldn’t have used that on me, because you would have spoiled me silly! My Nani and Maamu are in Karachi with you now.
Please do care for them, until I come. Then we can make them sleepless and tired together – because like you, I don’t like to rest for a second!
With love and cuddles from your granddaughter, Rahma
September 23, first day at Taj Consultants Clinics was a fulfilling day relatively. After ages. Had almost forgotten what did it mean to not feel miserable. Had a close interaction with the most amiable staff of Taj Consultants Clinics and spent the entire day with them. Such an amazing and caring team of young men and women. We met as if meeting after a long arduous separation, sharing our experiences of the interim period between Fasih’s going and my arrival day before. Almost everyone of them said, they felt lost, directionless and the workplace looked desolate just by the absence of one person- who actually was the mover & shaker of the whole organization. They wouldn’t even let me get up and get a glass of water for myself from the water dispenser or even pull a chair. What pampering ! Taj is blessed with a wonderful team of competent consultants too, some of whom especially are an epitome of class and grace. Met a few of them, and they were all extremely appreciative of our team. As said one, “Madam, the team Dr. Fasih nurtured here is nothing like anything found anywhere in Pakistan. They have risen to the needs and challenges in your absence very well.” These words were music to my ears. I am sure Fasih must have rejoiced up there too, hearing this. Another said, “Dr Ilmana what pill have you prescribed to your team. For every matter, they would tell us, “We will first consult our Madam.” The journey is no less a challenge still. Covid and Fasih’s loss has been a huge set back. But we have learned lessons and tested new normal of video-consultations too for a select group of tech savvy consultants. A lot is to be done, in months to come. Sometimes, I shudder with fear that the onus now lies on my shoulders alone. Fasih has conveniently slipped out of the picture. Kids have been supportive, but they will have their own lives to go back to. Anyways, time will tell. Coming back, yes the first full day at Taj gave me a purpose in life. Its a 5 year old child that needs to be raised with care and caution, protecting it from the general air of non-professionalism and ad-hocism around. For all those who endured my sobs and wails, and prayed for me endlessly, take comfort that I am partly at peace. But not sure how long will this last, till another wave of wailing returns. I still donot have the guts to meet Fasih’s patients who have been asking staff to inform them when I arrive. Some of them have visited him in the graveyard too and cry when in the clinic, I am told. Will visit Fasih again today and update him about his exemplary staff and how they miss him. Hope I stay calm and composed and behave with him. #KarachiDiary
Ismail has been such a pillar of support and yet leaves no opportunity of blurting “in your face” brutal truth with a touch of humor, even in these grim times. I went searching for coconut water in Istanbul airport. Ismail was amused. “This is third world Ammi. You dont find coconut water in bottles or cartons here. You will only find coconut water inside a coconut here.” “Very funny, Ismail.” “No this is called common sense.”
He held my hand tight as we visited Fasih in the graveyard at dawn. “That hold was such rock solid hold.Thank you my boy.” I told him. Him: “What do you expect from a person who does professional weight lifting? Grip is what matters.”
“Ismail you are my best friend.” With a little pause, and in half hearted tone, “Yeah. Ofcourse now that Papa is not there.”
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