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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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

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

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.

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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

Defeated

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Crushed, defeated, overwhelmed, and overcome by feelings too deeply rooted and an attachment so intertwined within her she finally gave up.

To her it seemed that with each passing moment her care for him grew and blossomed like the flowers in spring. It seemed that being apart and blocking him out, cutting him off completely had not been the solution. She knew now, because she had tried it and failed.

The hesitation inside grew and spread around her. That uncertainty and confusion clouded her mind and filled her eyes with tears. The feeling of not knowing how life had played him, was too strong to let go of and fashioned her year into one of constant pain and misery. It thudded along with every beat of her heart settling at the deepest pit inside of her chaining her captive once and for all..

nadia nawaz

A moment in time..

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In the darkest hour of the night he lay awake staring into the silence that enveloped him. His thoughts carried him to a place far away as his ears became accustomed to the sound of his rhythmic breathing. For him life was at a stand still, a moment in time where he lay captive. As the days dragged on and the seconds ticked by, he remained a constant in the whirl wind of activities that surrounded him. No matter how hard he tried or what he busied himself in, his mind somehow always found her.

Her… He closed his eyes as once again the very thought of her took his mind through a dizzying blur of entwining memories. Overtime she had consumed him becoming a non-detachable part of his soul making him acutely aware of his own deficiencies, as he bettered himself in a bid to win her.
As the days melted into weeks he all but drifted through, aware of the seasons as they came and went but no longer caring.

Consumed by these thoughts of her, he felt his eye lids become heavy with sleep as his dreams clouded his thoughts and he melted away into a place where they walked as one.

nadia nawaz

Confined

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From the moment the words left his lips, she began to doubt him. With every fragment of her being and from the very core of her existence, she refused to believe that what he said could be real. But no matter how much she tried, she could not escape the unmistakable reflection of truth in his eyes.

His words all but brushed over her but the intense pull of his eyes continued to hold her captive.

They portrayed the essence of his feelings; the agony, the love, the yearning, the fear and above all his utter faith and trust in her.  They were the very mirrors to his soul.

Like magnets they pulled her towards them, unyielding and unwilling to let go. She saw a reflection of herself in their very midst, mockingly daring her to look away. With each second that ticked by she felt herself drawn in by his powerful gaze and somewhere deep down she finally acknowledged her helplessness…

nadia nawaz