A forgotten February

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It had been almost five weeks since they had last met. 35 days to be exact, but who was counting. He had entered her life suddenly, and without warning. A time during which she was despondent at times, but mostly just going through the motions with not much concern about how each day seemed to blur into the next. He had been nothing out of the ordinary. She had glanced at him once and looked away, making nothing of it. Their conversation lasted five minutes at most. He had been well versed, sweet yet polite, but he was the kind of person who didn’t really leave a lasting impression. The second conversation had been different. He had been charming, and she noticed the way his eyes creased so noticeably in the corners whenever he smiled. He smiled a lot, and she couldn’t help but smile with him. It was his kind eyes that she remembered most.

Maybe meeting him has just been another little reminder. A beautifully tragic moment of happiness shared with a stranger who lived oceans apart. Bringing back to life the dreamer in her she had so casually cast away.

Nadia Nawaz

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Secrets, his and hers

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The entire idea of him was something completely foreign to her. He had an aura of contentment and dominance about him and though a part of her wanted to continue exploring, he intimidated her. He was, in his very essence different in every way possible from anyone she had met so far. Learning about his experiences was an exciting concept. Yet a sense of hesitancy still held her back from embracing him in his entirety. She was afraid. Secrets were only allowed when kept or revealed by her, and that untold past of his kept her under a blanket of mistrust, holding her back from happiness once again..

nadia nawaz

Slowly drifting

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The need to re-connect seemed to evaporate from her, slowly but surely. All she had ever wanted was to keep him close, ensure he stayed a part of her life no matter what happened. People had always been her weakness. The inability to let them go and her efforts to mend friendships always cost her, but she somehow remained persistent.
He confused her though. With each of his casual silences he unknowingly broke a tiny part of her slowing chipping away at her resolve. She felt their connection fading and though it pained her, she knew it was a choice he must have made a long time ago..

nadia nawaz

Self destruction

Lately it seemed like she was on a path to destroy herself. To her, it felt like nothing really mattered, but the moment she was in. She had never been the reckless type. Every decision was thought over, every move calculated; the pros and cons measured. But she had changed. In retrospect, her actions frightened her. She didn’t recognise her responses as her own.

Years ago she has always admired people with guts. People who were forever ready, waiting to take the plunge. It seemed she had morphed into someone who no longer cared about the consequences till days after- when her mind had slowly had time to process that whirl wind of thoughts. That’s when guilt began to settle in. She knew she had to re-gain control, before she caused herself irreparable damage.But this path of self-destruction seemed like such an easy escape.. at least for the moment.

nadia nawaz

2015 and the loss of someone special

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Disbelief, followed by complete denial and then shock; a wave of these feelings overtook me. My eyes burned as I willed myself not to cry “Nadia.. He’s gone”. The words echoed in my head over and over. But why so soon? And how so suddenly? He was supposed to be there to watch me get married and have kids. My mind began to yell questions but my mouth remained tightly shut. My eyes met my sisters and just like that we both knew as a steady stream of tears began to fall uncontrollably. Thirty days in and I still can’t begin to fully fathom the loss of my grandfather. The way my world stood still on that night of new year..

It was January the first and I had just come home from work. I received a call from my cousin as I was getting undressed. Her voice was frantic. Give your mum the phone. Nanajee (granddad) is having a heart attack. My mind went numb. I raced down the stairs screaming for my mother as I tried my best to shun all possible thoughts. Dinner was left untouched as my brother drove my parents over. That hour of waiting was one of the longest hours of my life.. A month later yet that day is etched into my memory like it was just yesterday. I cannot forget the look on his lifeless face as the medic’s stood by, finally giving up on their resuscitation attempts. I remember watching my mother kiss his forehead. The pain, the tears the cries in the room. A blur of activities; the ambulance, the flashing police lights, and the family friends who came in that same night, holding us while we grieved. The shock began to settle in..

A prolonged week of complications and uncertainty as we waited for the cause of death to be determined, followed by the funeral. It was an overcast day and the rain fell hard as we drove over to the mosque for funeral prayers. Sleep had eluded me for the past week as the thought of seeing him one last time dawned on me. I couldn’t let him go.. Not so soon.
As soon as I stepped inside and saw the brown box of his coffin, the feelings flooded back. I remember the mahogany colour of the wooden coffin, the golden latch and how the entire thing was draped in a green cloth, embroidered with golden Arabic verses..Details, I remember thinking, I can’t let myself ever forget. It was actually happening. He was moving on and leaving us behind…

I held back my tears long enough for the coffin lid to be lifted. I watched my father, grim-faced and moist eyed as he held my mother while she cried. Her pain was deep and etched into her eyes. As I saw my youngest sister stand up and go towards my mother, memories of my paternal grandmother flooded my mind. My beautiful daadi with her piercing grey eyes and warm hugs. I remember being the same age as my sister when I lost her, my first ever funeral.

It took me a long time to muster the courage to walk up to my grandfather’s coffin one last time. I held hands with my sisters and cousin. As soon as I laid eyes on his face, I was overcome by a loss so deep it felt as though the air had been sucked right out of me. I turned and buried my head in the closest available embrace, an aunty I had never seen before. She whispered words of comfort as I poured my heart out.

I received hugs and condolences from well wishers I hardly recognised. The mosque rooms were full. Soon it was time to take him to his final resting place. The clouds suddenly parted and I noticed the way the sun fell on his face. He looked so peaceful and distant lying there. The pain had finally left him. My brother, father and uncles closed the lid and pushed the coffin out of the room. Once again, we all broke down as the reality of the situation hit us anew.

We stood in prayer then, and I realised it was the first time I was offering a funeral prayer in congregation . People had travelled from across the city to pay their respects. I marvelled at the position my grandfather had held in the community. After we prayed, his friends and co-workers gave beautiful speeches about the role my grandfather had played, his effort as counsellor, his time as deputy mayor and the lives he had affected. Standing there, collectively mourning with strangers I had never before met, I felt blessed to have been such a close part of his life.

Just twelve months ago we celebrated his 81st birthday.. He had gathered us all and made a speech about how lucky he was to have us by his side, to have met two of his great grand sons. Thirty days since he’s gone and I still can’t make myself re-watch that video.

That’s the thing about loss. It’s so hard to describe. Only someone who has been through the ordeal of losing a loved one can truly understand and fathom the amount of devastation a person goes through. How your world is rocked from the very core. How things fails to excite you and mundane issues seem so ridiculously unnecessary.
Day’s pass and life slowly begins to go back to normal. You begin to smile again, laugh even. But then unexpectedly in the middle of a crowd you become overwhelmed by sorrow.The feeling of loss permeates your being and settles inside you. Always there, lurking just under the surface ready to drown you without a second’s warning.

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Footnote:  This has been one of the hardest posts I have ever written to date. Despite being such a private person, I chose to share this as a tribute to the amazing person my grandfather was as well as a source through which I can cherish his memory and remember that day. Nanajee,I miss you with all my heart.


nadia nawaz

All of you

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The ghost of my past lingers around me like the dense smoke I exhale, the shisha pipe clutched between my fingers.

The air is thick and clouded, a mist of vapour saturating it as with each breath I unfold a sequence of vivid of memories, unlocking the shadow of guilt which refuses to leave my side.

The shadow I always see in the green greying depths of your beautiful eyes..
In the clever formation of your words my mind interprets so radically..
In the dark of the night as I walk alone.

Shadows of the ghost, waiting for me to yield to their persistent nagging, always refusing to acknowledge my resolve.

How can they understand that I regret you, your very existence.. All of you.

nadia nawaz

Clouded over

Sitting alone, in the corner of a busy café overlooking the street, she looked up at the obscure sky.  With each passing hour the temperature seemed to fall a degree lower, as the icy winds mercilessly whipped across each passer-by’s face causing them to huddle and dig their hands even deeper into their pockets, their faces red and blistered.Her breath had fogged up the glass and she moved her face away, slowly drawing patterns  on it with her finger.

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