A forgotten February

186048570

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

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

6a00d83451b36c69e2017d3d89a26a970c-800wi

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.

autumngraveyard

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

image

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.
image

I guess this is Goodbye

Disappointment is like a leash around my throat, threatening to strangle me as it slowly tightens with each passing second. The thought of being let down in such an unfathomable way is surreal. But the stark reality of the situation, the finality of the decision and the suddenness with which everything has unfolded is something which cannot be ignored. The very part of us that allows us to open up, trust people and let them get close is the humanness which makes us imperfect, susceptible  to harm and just like that we begin to deem ourselves incapable of being loved. Blaming our own poor judgement and openness is just so easy yet it’s the biggest fault of all..

image

Within the realm of dreams

Forces loyal to Syria's President Bashar Assad hold their weapon as they stand near a tank in Tel Hasel, Aleppo province after capturing it from rebels November 15, 2013. Photo by Reuters

Forces loyal to Syria’s President Bashar Assad hold their weapon as they stand near a tank in Tel Hasel, Aleppo province after capturing it from rebels November 15, 2013. Photo by Reuters

Mideast Syria

Damascus-26 December 2013

Removed, far beyond the reach of human touch or contact she lay dying. Her chest heaved with the sigh of her laboured breathing, while her body remained motionless in the pile of rubble surrounding her. The pain was continuous and unlike any she had ever endured before. Her breath came in short gasps as she willed herself to keep going.She knew her end was near, it would not be long now before her body would bleed out..
Her thoughts were filled with the memorable sound of laughter, the chatter of her big family and the crazy amount of noise that had always accompanied them. All of them had been scattered like dust, leaving behind nothing..

Cautiously at first but then readily, her mind wandered to him. A sigh escaped her lips as she recalled the touch of his arm securely around her shoulders. The sound of his powerful voice as he had whispered jokes in her ear. How she had blushed a bright red with the swell of happiness erupting inside her. That sense of contentment and relief, it felt so reassuring. The feelings so vivid, that none of the chaos caused by the war had been able to erase him from her memory.

But for the present she had come to accept the inevitable. A harsh reality had come to rudely interrupt her perfect life when the fighting within her home land had begun.

She had watched so powerless as the war had taken over, not only her county but the very essence of all she was, her family that completed her and the beauty of nature surrounding her, leaving chaos and destruction, rubble and human remains.

So she had chosen to continue living in the only way she knew how, in the little bubble of her thoughts,  in the fragment of her imagination and in the remembrance of her past.

The beautiful memories formed her realm of dreams and it is here where peace prevailed and all was right with the world. Her last breath escaped her and with these thoughts she set off to the next world, beyond the grasp of all ugliness..

Damascus- One of the most beautiful cities of the world, so full of life before the war

Damascus- One of the most beautiful cities of the world, so full of life before the war

Afterword: Her story, like many others I have written previously, is in relation to the wars waging around the world.She is a twenty-one year old just like me who once had a life full of hope and happiness, viciously taken from her.

Relating this is but a fickle attempt to raise awareness of the plight of children of war. The situation in Gaza (Palestine) and Syria (as well as all other countries under siege) is shocking, brutal and inhumane..The true accounts of captives there and their suffering are enough to reduce grown men to tears.

These are people just like us who have no say in what is happening to their home, innocent children with big dreams now lying dead in the streets of Aleppo and Damascus never to see those dreams through. All I ask of you wherever you are in the world is to keep these people in your prayers.

Even if you are unable to help financially, simply raising awareness about the situation is the least we can do. I have always believed that no matter how small, even the tiniest bit of effort can help make a difference.
Please keep them in your thoughts tonight. While we will be safe and warm in our blankets, there will be many just like us who will be freezing to death just across the ocean through no fault of their own.

264856518_640

Please click the link below to view a short but sweet clip highlighting the third anniversary of the war in Syria on March 15, 2014.  Benskey, the famous graffiti artist has created the paintings in the video in response to the bloodshed :

#withsyria

nadia nawaz

Towards the end

f1c5cfc267117e880b55fd4887ede363_047

The morning suns rays filter through the blinds creating little circles of light on the bedroom floor. Somewhere in the room a person stirs, yawning away the last signs of sleepiness ready to face the new day. The sun  envelops the room in a golden glow, promising a comforting warmth. Like many things in life it is but a mere deception in the sky artfully concealing the cold winds which rage on around it. To the insider, warm and secure within their home the cold is merely another glitch in the weather,duly noted upon leaving the house.

A couple of thousand miles away, across the ocean a new dawn creeps through. Desolation and misery haunt the place and despite the clear skies, moans and whispers of grief choke the surroundings. War and terror are just the norm around here,tearing apart families and wrecking havoc. The same new day here, brings with it more reminders of the pain left to endure until night fall. Planning a future is a story of the past.

The contrast is striking between the two countries yet the seconds that tick by are identical. They share the same skies, the same moon, the same sun. Yet they live and die worlds apart from one another somehow all nearing the same end through different means..

nadia nawaz