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

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

And life surely does go on!

A sudden sense of dread and fear washed over me as I realized that I had done it once again. Not soon after however, it was replaced by a numbness so intense that I became unfocused, aloof and unaware of the happenings of my surroundings, driving my entire focus towards an attempt to find the item I had misplaced.

Being as absent-minded as a person can get, I always have this conscious feeling at the back of my mind; wondering when the next incident of me losing something I cherish will occur. Kind of like an obsession, I mentally tick off everything that’s important to me at the end of each day thankful for everything that I have been given.However what’s strange is no matter how careful I am, I always end up losing items I love and people I care for in the most absurd ways possible.

Everything in its own way leaves its mark, creating a sentimental place in us which very few choose to acknowledge or even admit. Loss is something we are all accustomed to in one way or another. This does not singularly have to do with the death of a person but can be related to the loss of any material item, loosing touch with a friend, a petty conflict which can cause an irreparable rift between two people, loss of a pet or even witnessing a disturbing incident. Moving through life in such rapidity, many of us fail to grasp the impact of loss when it does come. Each of us deals with it in their own unique way, indifferent to others.

While some choose to shut it out completely, others tend to revisit the memories allowing themselves to feel the same pain over and over. Though there is no set way to deal with such things allowing yourself time to comes to terms with it and focusing on the more positive aspects of life always helps. Focusing more on people worse off that you, and admiring their resilience can help us to deal with our own disappointments  much more easily.

nadia nawaz

Memories buried deep

She looked out across the horizon, her thoughts a million miles away. The sun, in all its glory shone down upon the clear water, its rays bouncing off of it, making it shimmer and dance like a sprinkling of pixie dust. Despite the presence of the sun, the wind and cold were relentless and unyielding.

Across the runway; stretched out beyond the water’s edge, a plane’s engine began to hum. She watched as it slowly began to move across the runway, gradually gathering speed until its wheels lifted and it rose. Higher and higher it moved, and still she watched.

Soon the wheels began to fold inward and as it made its ascent into the blue morning sky; she watched it until it disappeared from sight, a tiny dot of nothingness, soon swallowed by the magnificence of the sky. She felt the cold wind sting her eyes, forcing the tears from them and she gathered her jacket tightly around her.

The coffee she had brought out with her helped warm her chilled hands, sore and red from the cold. She was alone out there with her thoughts, clinging to the steel bars watching the water and planes as they taxied across the runway, slowly ascending and descending between regular intervals.

As she stood there, her mind was processing a million thoughts simultaneously, all somehow entwined. She liked to come here and think, to dream. She loved the way the water never looked the same, how it seemed to reflect her mood. Sometimes calm, clear and beautiful to watch, while at other times, reckless, intense and furious. The ferocity of the wind and waves didn’t scare her. Neither did she mind the cold much, but she could feel her toes going stiff, her eyes stinging with each gust of wind that blew across her face.

Time seemed to be at a standstill while she stood there, reminiscing old times and thinking of the future.

She wondered about the uncertainty of life and how everything seemed to always have a mind of its own. She wondered why people were so unpredictable and the oddest ways in which they slowly gathered importance in our lives. But most of all she thought of moments long gone and the people who meant so much to her. She missed them with all her heart, but as she stood there alone, she knew that life would figure out things and somehow it would all work out in the end.

A person often meets his destiny on the road he took to avoid it. – Jean De La Fontaine

Don’t be dismayed at good-byes. A farewell is necessary before you can meet again. And meeting again, after moments or lifetimes, is certain for those who are friends.-Richard Bach

 

 

Those Lost Pearls

As she stands there and listens to those petty excuses, the repeated apologies and meaningless promises, she knows for certain you’re nothing but a liar. Yet she stands there out of pity, offering you one last chance to redeem yourself and maybe just grow up.
You are nothing but a boy, with the body of a man. Physically strong and empowering, towering over her with that domineering look and self-confident smirk playing across your face. On the inside however, you are neither strong nor arrogant, rather a helpless little kid, unsure of yourself and oh so lost.

What you hide underneath that tough stature and steel facade no longer fools her for she has dissected your mind and found there nothing but a child. The thoughts of a small teenaged boy, immature and afraid. You try to impress her; you want nothing more than to fit in, to be the man who is looked up to. You crave power and you want to be understood. You try to hide it, but you cannot fool her. She sees the frightened little boy behind those eyes, the terror lurching in them. The disappointment and hurt. The horror of being rejected.  Yet you attract her, like a magnet draws itself to another, but she knows that attraction can be overcome, for what’s the point of an empty shell if it no longer has a pearl?

She watches you as you draw other girls towards yourself with your classy style and mesmerizing looks. Then you play with them, for the child within you comes alive. You treat them like dolls in your play house, only to be trashed and passed on once you’ve had your fill; for you know big boys don’t stick to one toy-they move on and get better toys-newer, shinier more attractive toys.
She knows your game so well. And she refuses to be a part of it. She won’t be your toy for she still looks for that lost pearl which left behind its shell so long ago…

Girls always tend to look up to boys older than them. Generally the immature mind-set and oddness of those younger ones never seem to appeal to them. This largely has to do with the maturity level and quicker psychological growth of girls over boys.

They say a girl matures much faster than a boy her age. In fact according to a study, girls are around three to five years ahead in their intellectual abilities and maturity as compared to boys the same age. Of course this cannot be taken as a general rule and may differ depending on each individual. However what’s agreed upon is the lower level of maturity in boys earlier on in their youth. This tends to even out later on once past the ages of twenty-three to twenty-five and does not affect their intelligence or intellectual abilities over time.

Taking this in stride, women mostly marry men older than them, but this never seems to pose a problem or form a barrier of any kind. In contrast, marriages in which women are elder of the two, often don’t last.

And so she stands there, completely silent yet observant as ever, watching you slowly drift away. She wishes she could reach out and protect you, stop you from falling over the edge but as she watches, you move further and further away and she knows with a certainty that she cannot save you anymore. One day she will find that lost pearl. That precious, artfully concealed gem, which is somewhere out there, just beyond her reach…

 

Shattered expectations-We’ve all faced them

Expectations!  Our very existence revolves around this twelve letter word. From the moment we are born, up until the day we die, people expect something from us and we in turn expect from them. This little mountain of expectations just gets bigger and bigger as time goes on. But the need and hope doesn’t just stop there. Us humans are strange in that regard. No matter how much a person gives us, or how well they treat us, that want for better never stops. Not only that, we then have the audacity to judge and pick flaws in the every single aspect of their lives be it related to us or not.

Maybe this is a part of our psyche and the way in which we were created.  At first I deliberated whether it was just a character flaw, present in the most egotistic of our kind. But with time, I’ve noticed that this little obsession of always wanting more and never being satisfied with not only ourselves but with other people around us, is incorporated in every single one of us irrespective of age. A child of three years will often compare itself with other children and then question why it can’t have the very same if not better.

It’s similar to being trapped inside a spiral. Or a never-ending race where competition seems to get tougher with each step you take, yet no finish line seems to be in sight.

With due time and over the course of our lives the number of setbacks, disappointments and failures we face heighten this sense of longing for something better, and with that comes greater expectation. This little cycle of never-ending requirements continues and often leads to a state of dissatisfaction, depression and discontentment with everyone around you and life in general. This rings true particularly in us youngsters, always looking for an outlet for our frustrations,we sometimes tend to give up. Only realizing later on that set backs are only a part of this life. But only time,age and experience brings about that understanding.

Some people try to overcome this by pretending to themselves that people’s opinion doesn’t matter to them. That they do not expect anything from anyone and aren’t effected by being let down time and time again. This is only a form of self-consolation. If nothing else you’re kidding yourself into believing something while knowing full well that the opposite is true.

However despite the fact that we will always expect from people and vice versa, one thing’s for sure. Our expectations may never diminish but with age we mature and begin to understand the effect of each action, the nature of our responsibilities and the expectations we have from others and in turn owe others. It’s how we fulfil our obligations, responsibilities and the limit to which we choose to satisfy what others expect from us is what is solely dependent upon us.