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

Taking a gamble

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There comes a point when your whole life rests on one big decision. The choice once made could either make or break you. All it takes is one little signature on a stack of papers..
You outweigh the pros and cons. You spend sleepless nights wishing you could take a quick peek into the future, hoping you would find that little string of self-assurance you can hang on to. The risk in question excites you while at the same time deflates you. You feel as though you are signing away a portion of your life.
You find yourself wishing someone would make the decision for you, but at this point even your parents can only offer advice. They seem to be as unsure as you, and this revelation brings their own humanness to your attention. You look back at those last few carefree days spent at university and wish to turn back time if only for a few hours of peace. Though this future prospect has the potential to open up avenues you would have previously deemed impossible, it also has an element of uncertainty. This fear of one-day regretting the decision hangs overhead like a pendulum ready to drop.
And so all that’s left is to wait. The grace period looms in the distance and you begin to wonder whether you will take the gamble, hoping whatever path you take will be worth it.
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Raw

An enigma of uncertainty and doubt lurk in the dusty recesses of my thoughts as a shadow, shrouded only by my strong wall of resilience and confidence. Feelings of uncertainty always lie in wait just below the surface, making sudden and calculated appearances as they bury my self-assuredness into oblivion. A darkness so draining envelops swiftly leaving me floating in a pool of apprehension. Similar to the healing process of a freshly peeled scab, regrowth of self belief is a steep climb with a shallow pool of familiar brokenness below and an expanse of emotional detachment above. The middle is where I choose to settle for now, listless and raw.

nadia nawaz

Public Harassment

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I came out of the underground tube station and crossed the road to reach the bus stop. I noticed the bus was not due for another ten minutes and since there were already quite a few people standing around I moved off to the side a little. It was late afternoon, almost sunset and I had headphones on as I waited for my bus to arrive. There was a man, seemingly in his late forties sanding not far from the bus stop, beer bottle in hand, noticeably drunk.

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On letting go

To you..

I won’t deny that my initial feelings were one’s of being hugely let down.I felt betrayed. Day’s later, as I have had time to reflect upon it, I have come to feel annoyed at your general aloofness and your unwillingness to explain yourself better. Your lack of complete absence of any form of comfort could in part be owing to my enormous effort at trying to make the whole thing seem so ridiculously minor. But the truth is, I’m only human and no matter how brave a front I put up, at that moment I was hurting just like you once were.But the brokenness I feel is temporary and along the surface, and with time that too will fade. Above all though I respect you,and your decision. I see your good heart and your courage and I know you will go on to grow into much much more. I carefully savour our shared moments for nothing,not even this can tarnish those. You may not realise it but you have always been exceptionally special in my eyes,despite your many short comings, I admire you. And know that no matter where life takes us, you will always find a friend in me..
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As she grieves

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The mere mention of the word death is like a huge anchor suddenly being dropped to the very pit of your stomach. The rapidity of your pulsating heart and the shock of the news engulf you in this invisible cloak, shrouding you while removing you form the rest of the world. Every activity you were previously preoccupied with, every other thought apart from that single one becomes blurred, diminishing into nothingness.

Disbelief settles in as your eyes flood with a never ending stream of tears. You feel chocked up,trapped in a dark place from which escaping seems incomprehensible. You feel as though nothing will ever be the same. You begin to question your own existence, marvelling once more at how everything in life amounts to the feeling of being cheated.

I have always been a quiet griever. Mourning to me is an experience no one but the person going through it can actually understand. No matter how heartfelt a third persons condolences may be, they feel like empty words when unaccompanied by their physical presence, their shoulder to cry on and a loving hug. Empathy I believe must be shown through actions.

Dealing with the death of a loved one, friend, relative is  a part of life we all go through. Every death leaves behind a fresh gash. The toughest part is when the previous gash hasn’t yet healed and a new one opens up. The bitter brokenness is worse than any heartbreak ever felt.

“Tears shed for another person are not a sign of weakness. They are a sign of a pure heart.”
José N. Harris, MI VIDA: A Story of Faith, Hope and Love

nadia nawaz

On Graduating, end of University life and some startling confessions-Brace yourself

               Can't wait for my convocation ceremony!

Can’t wait for my convocation ceremony!

Day 8..

So its been 8 days since my result was announced and I officially became a graduate. Having gone through the British University system, I was awarded a first class Hons.Degree in Information Technology. *Proud moment*

Tick Tock.. The time is 3.40 a.m! I should have been asleep over an hour ago, yet here I lay in a darkened room staring at the illuminated screen of my laptop hoping I can make it through this post without having to correct those pesky typo’s. *Bear with me please, I have no patience for editing*

Its been about a week since I’ve stepped out of my house.Literally. Those eye bags I acquired over the course of my final year due to lack of sleep and the insane tan I got from this extreme amount of sun we seem to be having this summer, are finally disappearing.Hurrah!

Those daily, four-hour train journeys have ended. That mounting sense of responsibility, dread of being a failure, inability to comprehend people’s bullshit and hours of struggling with coursework as well as that added exam stress has momentarily lifted.

Yes I know, I should be euphoric at this point – planning a wonderful future ahead, mentally checking off that long list of countries I promised myself  I would visit, exchanging mushy messages with a lover/potential husband/fiancée, basking in the freedom of a worry free future with the world at my fingertips… But here I am instead tapping away at this hour of the night churning out my frustrations to the world. (And I call myself an insanely private person, but I am)

Graduating is weird. It’s a silly overrated concept of finally entering the best years of your life, when in actuality its a kick in the ass and a great big shove through the door of adulthood-ism.

Through the course of your education you may have thought expectations surrounding you were high, but now suddenly you’re on the highest level of the expectation barometer! Questions such as ‘So when are you getting married?’, ‘Why isn’t your daughter engaged yet?’, ‘Let me introduce you to my son-so handsome, he’s perfect for you’, ‘Don’t you have a job yet?’, ‘What are you doing these days?’, ‘So what next?’, ‘What’s the plan?’, ‘You’re 21 years old, about time you settled down no?’ etc pour forth and drown you, left right and centre.

So here I am, plan-less, lover-less (Trust me, I almost had the perfect one and its killing me!), Job-less, Money-less, but completely content at being unemployed for now, just floating between escalating moments of relief, hopelessness and a constant feeling of being completely stagnant both emotionally and mentally..

The fact that I graduated feels like a distant memory, which resurfaces now and again bringing back that much-needed sense of accomplishment.

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Nadia Nawaz