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

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Endless summer nights

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In the dead silent of the night, her recollections created a web of frayed images inside her head and words poured out of her effortlessly. The stillness and loneliness of the darkness engulfed her within its vastness, wrapping itself around her in a mercilessly tight grip.

Her thoughts soared and receded unwilling to settle at a comfortable hum inside her head. Her mind clouded over and she felt himself drown, lost within the suffocating sweetness of the moment. Throughout it all one steady noise reverberated across her ears. The thud of her agitated heart as it continued to steadily beat to its own rhythm never once failing her.

Nadia Nawaz

Faraway lands, a secret paradise

Street kid in Kabul-Afghanistan © David Belluz

“Somehow, even in the worst of times, the tiniest fragments of good survive. It was the grip in which one held those fragments that counted.” ― Melina Marchetta
(Street kid in Kabul-Afghanistan) © David Belluz

Sitting in the corner of the market, on a dirty abandoned street once so full of life she closed her eyes. She had been walking for many days now, passing by ruins and dilapidated houses always in shambles, mostly unoccupied. Her journey had been long and arduous  with no destination in sight. All she saw were reminders of the atrocities committed by other men. Men who claimed to come bearing the name of peace. The reminders were painful, bringing with them memories she had long before tried to forget. They clung to her like a disease, growing in weight as the days slowly dragged on.

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Him and Her

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To her, he was a beautifully treasured memory carefully stored and revisited time and time again, added to and deleted from as days flew by. To him,she was just a thought at the back of his mind always there floating in the midst of the chaos which filled his head. Ever present yet somehow blanketed over by more pressing matters

She spent her days and nights revisiting the memories, smiling over them and cherishing them with all her heart wondering just how time would play her this time. He casually glided over her funny chatters on odd occasions, chiding himself for the sacred few smiles her recollection brought to his face on long lonesome summer nights.

Her days were filled with the buzz of the busy city and the warmth of his memories. The happiness she had thought so little of once upon a time and the confusion and ache of rushed goodbyes.His days were filled with the chatter and gossip of his mates, the work which got him through the hours, the gloom of slowly ticking seconds and emptiness of a soul which refused to take a leap of faith, too afraid to dare to dream.

Together they moved on in time, living their separate lives, thinking often but doing little, simply passing through the midst of all that surrounded them. In a world inhabited by millions they were simply HIM and HER..

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nadia nawaz

Daring to dream

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How she longed with every fragment of her tiny being, to be beyond the hopelessness and confusion of her down-trodden life, the misery and scorn of unfulfilled dreams and the hurt and loss of failure.

Her secret refuge  was where she found peace, a place where her mind took her and allowed her to glimpse a timeless paradise hidden behind a secluded doorway if only but for a moment. Where the joy and happiness which filled her heart would not come crashing down without a moment’s warning. Where pain and longing were feelings unheard of.

A place where her life was beyond the wickedness and evil which war brought with it. A sanctuary, where one could dare to dream and hope filled the air with its dazzling presence. Where young love was not  scorned and passion was allowed to run its due course. Where a mind and heart would not bleed away with the burden of all the pain chained up inside. Where the innocence of children would not be tainted by hideous sights of death and destruction. Where eyes would no longer weep for loss and pain but sparkle with merriment and wonder. Where each moment would be worth living and every creature would be thankful, brimming with contentment at last.A place where only dreams could come true!

nadia nawaz

The overwhelming darkness

Solitude-600x450He was a man of few words yet the very few he did speak portrayed a multitude of various sides, giving him a raw and mysterious aura.On the exterior he looked younger than his years with a boyish smile, dusky brown hair and greenish gold eyes which held within them bottomless depths. They lit up and sparkled whenever he smiled inducing a similar sense of joy and delight into the person gazing into them. Continue reading

Going through the motions

She looks at her reflection in the darkened window of the bus, the fluorescent lights illuminating part of her face, keeping the other half hidden in shadows. Her eyes look tired and zoned out. Even to herself she appears grim and solemn. The bus slogs along with a rhythm, its engines creating a hollowed out sound, resonating throughout the interior. Not a soul speaks. The person beside her taps his toes to the beat of his music, content in his own little bubble, oblivious to the stares of others.

Sitting beside him, she’s aware of the odd smell coming from him; a mixture of coffee, cigarettes and aftershave, it seems oddly familiar yet strangely soothing. The smell makes her wonder-an overdose of caffeine and nicotine – maybe he isn’t so carefree after all. She passes her gaze over others standing and sitting around her, curious about who they might be. Slumped down low in her chair she slowly begins to feel the dull ache in her legs caused by standing throughout her entire journey.

Fatigue passes over her in waves and she rubs her eyes, keeping them glued to the darkened streets; a mere attempt at keeping herself awake. The narrow, deserted streets look eerily beautiful. The night so dark and mysterious, illuminated by the golden street lights looks strikingly mesmerizing.

During these long journeys’ she has the chance to think. Back tracking through her life, she eventually steers her thoughts to the present while keeping her eyes on the road.

The darkened streets help her dream. She tries not to focus on her present troubles. As she dreams she smiles to herself; her face a mask of imperfection, her mind far far away as the bus continues to move amid the rattling of the windows, the roar of the wind outside, the beat of the strange man’s music and the muffled hum of the engine.