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Archive for February, 2021

Dedication in COVID Times ~ a story

Disclaimer: This is a piece of fiction written by Ilmana Fasih. Any resemblance to any part of the story or character are purely coincidental !

A wife tested COVID positive and developed severe symptoms.
Her husband felt bad that he hadn’t really been very kind to her, had always been fighting with her, forgot their anniversaries, her birthdays etc.
He thought, “What if she dies? I will live all my life in guilt for not having cared enough for her.”
He asked her, “Make a wish darling, and I will fulfill it.”
Wife; “Really? Anything.?
Husband: “Yes anything. Just say it. And it will be done.”
Wife: “Can you buy me a 2 Carat Diamond Solitaire ring?”
Husband was perplexed. That would be hell of an expensive gift.
But he thought this was the best and most likely the last moment to prove he cared.
He sold off his car and got her a $ 25,000 Two Carat Diamond Solitaire ring.
“Darling, here is your present.” As he passed on the bag following 2 meters social distancing dictat.
Wife excitedly removed her oxygen mask, powdered her face a little, put on a red lipstick and draped herself with a beige shawl with red border.
She then slid the ring on her left ring finger and told him to take a picture with her posed with the hand placed on her chin with the giant 2 carat diamond sparkling distinctly.
After the picture was taken she told him, ‘I will put this picture on Instagram with hashtags #NoOccaisionGift, #Surprise#TwoCaratSolitaire, #GiftFromMyLove and tell the world how awesome and caring my husband has been.”
And then she put the ring back in the box and told her husband, “Darling please return back the ring to the shop. I don’t want to die with guilt that I made you spend so much money before my death, just for nothing. But honey please let this remain a secret between us.
Husband replied with utmost affection,My love, money doesn’t matter. I got this gift for you. But you know I love you so will respect your wish and do as you say.”
The husband gladly took it back to the shop saying his wife did not like the ring. And he took the money back and repurchased his car.
He felt accomplished that at least once he was a good husband, and that will be the last image world will have of him if and when she dies.
“How clever am I”, he thought of himself.
And the wife, as her temperature rose, her oxygen saturation went down from 98 to 96 to 92 to 88 to 80 and so on, she coughed with contentment, “At least I will die peacefully now. This wretched man will not take any long to remarry. And then the new witch will demand where is the 2 carat solitaire ring that I was wearing in my last days, will endlessly search for the ring and they will fight on it for rest of their lives. And my soul will truly rest in peace.”

And guess what, she recovered and they continued to fight with each other for rest of their lives. 😀

Ubuntu ~ I am because we are.

This is also a first time thing after Fasih’s passing.
I was the one who got the phone call of Fatima’s COVID positive and it seemed as the broken pieces of my world which I had painstakingly gathered after Fasih, were falling apart once again.
I absorbed the shock, took a deep breath and then walked over to Fatima feigning as if I was an iron woman, and told her,
“Your test is positive. My baby you don’t have to worry, we are all surrounded by doctors and reside over a hospital. You will brave through this.”
Nevertheless, as we all decided to isolate in our respective rooms, I missed Fasih dearly, for not being around to share the anxiety and nag him with silly rants like,
“Babloo I am so scared. I hope she will have mild symptoms only. Please tell me she will be okay.”
I even missed more getting back the reassuring reply, “Don’t worry, be strong. She will be fine InshaAllah.”
I messaged Fasih on his messenger, asking him, “Wherever you are Babloo, please pray for our girls.”
We are truly blessed to have the unflinching support of Abdullah’s parents.
Not only do they call their daughter in law, and grand daughter, every few hours, they continually call on me to be sure I am being strong.
After every word of gratitude to them, they remind me, “Bhabi we are one family. You needn’t be thankful.”
The sense of shared care is one of the most empowering and reassuring feelings on can experience.
I cannot also thank enough all the friends and family who called, messaged and expressed their duas for Fatima and Rahma.
We all are what we are because of the circle of care that surrounds us.
The Zulu phrase Ubuntu says it all in 5 small words: “I am because we are.”

Used in the Name of Love !

Yesterday I was in the office when the receptionist informed me that there is a lady calling from Lahore and she is saying that she knows me from Saudi Arabia. I took her call and she turned out to be one of my nurses when I worked in the Saudi National Guards, Jeddah. She hadn’t been in touch since I left the place in 2008.
But somehow she heard of Fasih’s passing so she searched for me and it lead her to Taj’s phone number. I had always been close to my nursing staff who in Saudia were multinational. So also knew our family by references.
She expressed her deep condolences and said she was shaken and is still not able to believe it. I asked her how was she, her husband and the three boys doing? They must be grown up now?
She replied, “Dr. Ilmana i went through hell in past few years and am now in Lahore. But its okay. I will share my story some other time. Yours is still more tragic than mine.”
But then as it happens, after a few minutes she began to reveal her story.
She told that she had fallen very sick 3 years ago while still working in Jeddah. And barely survived.
But was so weak that she decided to quit her job and come to Lahore where all her 3 boys were now in University.
Her husband didn’t like it and told her, “Dont go. I cannot live without you.”
She said she was such an idiot that she thought he wanted her to be with him. And told him to make a trip to Lahore to settle the boys. He came to Lahore for 15 days.
In the meantime her resignation period got completed and she started living at home. When her husband returned, he was shocked that she had left her job.
He asked her “why did you leave the job?”
She said, “Because I am tired to working. I am unwell now. But since you dont want me to go to live with our children, I will live here and travel back and forth.”
He got more furious, “So now you will depend on me financially?”
And he gave her a divorce-Talaq, talaq, talaq.
She cried but he said, by staying here meant working here. Otherwise he will have nothing to do with her.
So a week later she came back to Lahore to her sons. All the savings that they had done as a couple via a joint account and investment in land etc were in his name, and he refused to give a penny.
Her gratuity from her job in National Guard also came in their joint account. So she was deprived of that too.

Now since 3 years she is living with her sons, and the father is not even paying for their education. And he sends her vicious messages whenever the boys try to call him to ask for financial help. They are working and studying themselves.

I was shocked to hear her story. I told her that her story was more tragic than mine. I have the pain of a loss, but I do not have the hurt of betrayal both emotional and material.
She agreed it feels as if in her past 22 years of married life, she was in a fraudulent relationship tied to her income.

The images of this nurse and her kids have been haunting my head since yesterday.

What a pathetic world we live in… Is money everything for some people?

Addendum: Just found this appropriate quote related to the story.

Farewell to Syed Fasihuddin #40

Friday, 30 October, 2020
Dear Babloo,
Its Friday again.
And again I was there by your side at the grave, at the fateful time of 1:30 pm.
I shared a joke with your sister and her husband while at your side….that you would often tell me, ‘I was always lucky to get good and interested parosans but I still chose to get a partner from a thousand mile away.”.

Nadeem bhai noted and read names of the two parosans on either side of you.
I hope they are being good to you and but not too nosy.
But its okay even if they are. I hope you tell them only good things about me and not those fights and tantrums that are inevitable part of the life of any happy couple. I can bet you, none of these parosans can make better bihari kababs and cheesecakes than I do. Hey, don’t you try to share my recipes with these ‘interested’ parosans.
I haven’t cooked any of these since you’ve gone, anyways.

Ignore them if they watch Indian dramas, which I think they must be as they are from Karachi. You don’t watch any episode okay? Because they can be addicting.
Oops, I am just kidding. I just want you to be happy and not miss us and Taj, my dear, even if that means watching Indian soaps.

But on a serious note, better still if you stay close to your Amma, Abba and my Papa. That will be a better intellectual company. Your Papa and you can discuss the recent advances in Pulmonology, and even about the second wave of COVID, while my Papa can teach you better Urdu and update you about what’s latest in Trump Biden elections.
And at dinner time you can all sit together and have the musallams and qormas your Amma makes.
And I am sure you must be sharing your Ammas cooking with your neighbors.
Its okay. But no, don’t share my recipes. Just tell them my wife made world’s most delicious cheesecake, like you told people here. Let them feel inadequate without those recipes.
I don’t know whether to laugh or cry?
But I was glad I had a stronger heart today to joke about you to Nadeem bhai and Kosar Baji.

I am sure you must be the most loved and sought after person up there too. Should I feel left out and jealous by imagining that?
I am not sure.
One part of me says I miss you, the other part wants to be selfless and imagine you are in such a happy place.

Jokes aside, I want you to know that your staff misses you a lot. They all miss your presence in every meeting and happy occasion. They remember how you took your bossy garb off in such fun events, and became one of them, only to come back next morning roaring like a dangerous boss.
One of your staff who got the most scolding, I had a private talk with her one day.
I asked her “I hope you have no bad feelings towards Fasih?”
She started crying and told me, “Mam his scoldings have changed me into a better and serious person.
Today I have a good career only because of him. How can I have any negative feelings for him.”

So many people come or call every day to tell me how much you impacted their lives.
They all pray for your highest place in the heavens. I am sure with so many blessings and prayers, you must be in a wonderful place far beyond our imagination.
It gives me peace to imagine you are happier and at a more blessed than you were here.

And yes, I was just kidding. I am not envious of any good parosans you have.
You can even share my bihari kabab and cheese cake recipes.
I won’t be petty. But haan, do tell them, “my wife has a big heart. This is HER RECIPE. And she is not petty not to share them”. Do put in a good word for me.
These wimmens I know will still not be able to make the kababs and cakes as delicious as mine. 😃
Love you,

The Epitome of Needlework

First time I noticed Bakhtawer Bhutto Zardari closely and felt warm about her was when I saw her engagement pictures with Mahmood Choudhary, recently, and my eyes got stuck at the shawl she was wrapped in. Let me be honest, before that she was just a middle child of super rich parents born with a golden spoon and who wasn’t even keen in joining politics too.

Thanks to the smart phone technology, I zoomed in as close as I could, from my Samsung phone to view the intricate micro-details of every single motif big or small. As all those who are keen aficionados of hand embroidery would have already read the symbolic significance of the design, I won’t repeat that.

My favourite was the motif where a sunglasses clad Bakhtawer is looking into the mirror, and the second are a dancer and musicians scene in another section of the shawl. The border in black with light floral embroidery completes the design very aesthetically.

I ased Fatima, my painter daughter, “Did you notice her shawl?
She retorted instantaneously, “Ofcourse, did you expect me to miss it? Its made by Nida Azwer who is famous for such intricate embroidered shawls.”
Having a daughter-friend who shares same fancy bordering on addiction, for hand embroidery and desi handicrafts is such a blessing. Hopefully Rahma, Fatima’s one year old, will grow up to join the club too, one day.

IMHO for those who can afford, instead of investing in gaudy gold jewelry or ridiculously expensive and blingy- overdone wedding dresses appropriate for one time use, such handcrafted heirloom pieces which are worthy of being passed on to several generations down ones lineage, is worth all the investment.

Here are the details I could zoom in of the few pictures shared on social media. I can clearly spend a day with this piece, and drool over its detailed motifs, dissecting in imagination he stitches used, and dream to attempt to plagiarize at least one motif with my amateur needle work skills. Just to satisfy my ego.

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