Today marks 31 days my father passed away. For the past 31 days my biggest struggles have been keeping my family and myself together, not letting the world break me and the most important one: not to turn into a cold person because that would hurt my father’s soul the most.
For the past 31 days I’ve had countless parts of me die for the moments of my father’s soul leaving his body keeps flashing right in front of my eyes. I haven’t been able to sleep properly because every single night I relive all those moments from that night. Even if I manage to sleep early (thanks to the sedatives) my eyes would pop open at 2 am, exactly the time it all began. Falling asleep between 2:45 to 4:00 am seems impossible as that period holds the most scariest moments of my life where for the first time ever I felt so helpless. I’ve had fair share of scary moments, moments where I’ve seen my father in hospital beds. I have seen him in excruciating pain but never have I seen him cry which always gave me the power to stay calm and not panic. But the night of 9th Zil-Hajj (24th September, 2015), for the first time ever in my entire existence, I panicked, I got scared and I was screaming to strangers in the middle of the night, on a road, right outside a hospital to help me to take my father to a different hospital.
I cannot forget what happened and how it happened. Even if I have learned how to explain bits and pieces of ‘how it happened’ since people can’t stop interjecting, I cannot deny the fact that still hurts; not having to say it all makes it even more hurtful. Except for once, I haven’t cried yet. I have been holding people but I till date haven’t been held yet. The toughest moment of my entire professional career was when I had to sit in front of the entire department/team along with my boss (all men) so that they can give their condolences and pray for my father’s soul to be blessed. That was the moment when I wished I had a female colleague who could hold me. I did not cry then. I have this anger simmering inside me, I am hurt and broken worse than ever. I need help but I need help from ‘my people’. Don’t get me wrong, I appreciate every single person’s concern, love, support and prayers but in times when something happens, I shut the world out and I can only hold on to my very close people. But unfortunately, my people don’t even want to be there for me. So the biggest lesson that I learned from my father’s death is that it’s not necessary that the people you hold very dear will hold you dear too. Also, they won’t even be ‘there’ for you for the same reason but also for the fact that to be actually be ‘there’ for you, they’d have to consult one of their lists to check your ranking on it to decide whether if they should help/support you to get through the trauma/shock/grief. Yes, I am not even remotely kidding because you see the thing about humans is that they have all these lists to help them prioritize not just tasks but people too. The lists can vary from person to person but some of the common ones are:
- People I love
- People I hold dear
- My support system
- Awesome friends/people
- My special people/friends
- People I drive inspiration from
- People I meet/see every week(if not everyday) or once in a while
- People who love me/care about me (forgetting the ones who actually do)
The above mentioned ones are few common examples of the lists people consult to check status of people.
I have been waiting for ‘my people’ to actually be ‘there’ for me for the past 31 days but all I got from them was a one liner condolence, a tweet mentioning my father’s death & the janaza timing, them sharing the news of my father’s death with their close people who somehow know me, weekly ‘how are you? Hows family?’ messages, and some likes on Facebook posts (which to be very honest do not show support because in times like these, real support is needed more than ever). But the thing I needed the most is what I may never get for I never made it to the top ranks on their priority lists. They know I am not a very expressive person and I can only open up to them only yet no efforts from their sides.
So I ask you all, don’t you all feel like a ‘hypocrite’ when you can’t support and be there for someone you call your ‘friend’ but your heart goes out over all the cruelty that is happening be it in Pakistan or worldwide? How is it you can feel the pain of millions of strangers but not of someone you know for years? It’s all about priorities, right? Priorities of people, people you love and care about. No, I am not wrong here, not this time at least because had it been someone else you would have called them up (if they didn’t reply you), sent voice notes over WhatsApp, even paid them a visit. You would have taken out time to be physically present just to show your support and helped them through. You would have stalked them everywhere just to get a hint but you wouldn’t do that for me ‘cause I don’t have a higher rank in your list despite of being your support system on various instances.
Of course, in the past 31 days, your life didn’t stop or even came to a halt, mine did. Your world didn’t collapse, mine did. You can sleep (even if it’s for a couple of hours). So you have work, you have classes, responsibilities so no time. But I can bet my life on it that if it was someone else you hold dear, you would have taken out time regardless of your shitty work and studies schedule and you wouldn’t even think about your lists. People who genuinely care and people who claim to be the better person do take out time to show their support regardless of who the person in grief is. I don’t claim to be a good person but God forbid, had it been you in my place, despite of my shitty work and studies schedule, ailing parents(now parent), my responsibilities, poor means of transportation and living at the extreme end of Karachi, I would have taken out time to be physically present around you regardless of you wanting me there or not.
You didn’t even bothered to ask me if I need help with letting it out. So I never replied to any of your weekly ‘how are you?’ text messages. Do you think I could possibly be in a condition to reply or even ask for help myself? It never occurred to you to ask me if I need help with my exams which you being in the same university knew exactly when they were taking place or if I was ready to take them. The management, instructors and a few fellow classmates (Read: strangers who knew me for only a month) asked me several times if I was stable enough to take my mids. But you couldn’t ask because of course I didn’t reply to your weekly messages which by the way I kept tweeting about that I cannot understand how to answer them. But of course you didn’t read them since I am not even in the list of ‘people to be stalked/people to look out for’. I ask you, how can a person be when their father dies? Haven’t we all seen people crying over breakups for ages when they only knew the person for a couple of months or a few years so how will a person possible be when their father whom they knew for their whole life; their world and life revolved around them dies?
I have been wondering, don’t you feel bad, don’t your conscious question you when you whine about the world being a cruel place and people lacking humanity? Don’t forget, it’s the society that shapes/forces an individual to turn off their humanity and let go of their kindness. And no, personal values and beliefs have no hand in it if the person was one of the good ones. You’ll know once you go down that road. Next time you take part in making the society better or helping out in disaster, do remember to go over your lists.
Did I hurt or insult you? Believe me you cannot be more hurt and insulted than me. At least you have ‘your people’ (yes the ones with higher rank) with you. I don’t have anyone. Judge me, hate me, stop caring about me. Oh wait, you already don’t care.
Oh and yea, I do believe that my father is in a much better place. You didn’t see him in pain I did so spare me some courtesy and don’t say that to me. You cannot estimate the magnitude of pain and horror I have been going through. I never liked September or my birthday but this year not just September but my birthday too was perfect. I was truly happier than ever until the day I saw my father walk on his feet to falling; having fits > his moving hands and legs losing movement and going numb > his warm body getting cold, colder and colder.. his full of life eyes going completely blank.. He was smiling until he fell, I saw that smile fade into him gasping for breath; trying to say his last words to me and my sister and then complete silence that literally pierced a deep-never-to-be-filled-hole in our hearts and souls. I am literally shaking while typing this, imagine reliving this over and over again, every single day and night since baba passed away. Now I am not only scared of smiling but also scared of even expecting anything good or big that would give me tiny bit of happiness. This is not all, on the 14th night I saw 4 people die right in front of my eyes in the same hospital my father was treated a day before he died. 2 people were men and they died exactly how my father died. I completely froze where I was standing, completely forgetting that my mother was in the same hospital, lying on one of the beds in the female emergency ward. The guard had to call a nurse to drag me to where my mother was and forbid me to come out. 31 days and I still cannot walk across the hospital we took our father to right before he died. It’s hardly 2 minutes walk away from my house and I am so scared that I take a detour to go home.
Obviously none of this will move you. But still I would request you that next time before sharing something that shows insensitivity or cruelty or inhumane/barbaric behavior, do ask yourself once, “should I share this or feel bad about this when I left a girl alone in her toughest time even when I knew she needed me and she could only let it out with me being there”
If you don’t know what to say to someone who lost a loved one than ever heard of, “presence/being physically present with the grieving person can help them feel better” ? Or you would like to save it for your special ones too? Heck, I too don’t know what to say to a person who lost a loved one but I made sure to do something for them and be ‘there’ for them. I didn’t know how to console a person but seeing my mother and sister taught me how to do so. You can learn too only if you feel the pain but then why would you feel my pain?
Believe you me, it’s really easy to say, “He is in a better place”, “move on”, “snap out of it”, “Life goes on”, when it’s not you who has lost a part of them. The grieving person misses the deceased every moment that passes. My eyes yearn for one look of my father. That bright face with eyes full of life and those lips sporting a genuine smile. If I had one wish and one wish only, I’d use it to have few moments with my father. I’d want to hug him tight and say all that I never said. I literally search him in every man I see of his age. At times I have seen men older than him and I couldn’t resist looking heavenwards and asking, “Why my father?”. But Alhamdullilah I instantly realized my mistake and I thanked Allah for taking away all the pain from my father and wishing well for the man I saw.
Some of you are people I looked up to. I always find inspiration in you all. A person was my silver lining in every dark phase of my life. I still respect each of you like before but I am extremely sorry to say this that you all have disappointed, abandoned me when I needed you all the most. You all did what you all say people should never do to someone. You all are the ones who step out of their houses to take part in helping others even when a natural disaster takes place but you couldn’t be there to help me. You can make comments like, “think about the loss of others”, “people are foolish”, “people are inhumane and cruel”, “people are quick to react to something going viral on social media without knowing the fact”, etc. but you called me a ‘friend’, ‘a good person’ and you left me alone in the most hardest and toughest phase of my life.
With everything said, when a hard time falls on you, rest assured you will still find me by your side even if ‘your important people” aren’t there. And believe me my heart would be clean and you will see no change in my attitude.