October 23, 2009

Another quake last night.

And I'm going home from Karachi tonight to my building in Islamabad, minutes away from Margalla-that-fell. Minutes away also from the sector-of-the-shootout. But strangely, I'm amazingly calm on the inside. Death and I have come to an understanding of sorts. I'm not afraid of dying because I truly believe that when death comes, it comes. It's the associated pain I'm not too thrilled about (but what-can-one-do-except-smile-and-bear-it?).

Over the past five years, I've been more intimately acquainted with death than ever before. It started with Salman, who-fell-when-margalla-fell. His death punctured all our bubbles and the world was never the same again. I re-thought most things. Fell apart. Went just a-little-bit-wild while embracing the philosophy that life is much-much too short to be sensible. I have no idea where I would have ended up if N hadn't caught me and forced me to slow down. To walk by his side for-as-long-as-we-walked. For that, and much more, I shall always be grateful to him.

Then my grandfather (my mother's father) died. A slow, natural death that claimed his deteriorating body. He was ninety-six, in India, and victim to the debilitations of old-age to a point where he could no longer move beyond his bed. When we went to see him in 2005 (almost a year before he passed) it was difficult to make sense of what he said, largely because he had no teeth to support the movement of his tongue. When he died, I mourned for the man who had taught my brother and I to sing the Indian national anthem way-back-in-the-day because he knew it would annoy the Paki side of my family. I mourned for the man who used to play with us for hours when he came to visit. I mourned for my mother who had lost both her parents now. But I could not mourn for him. Because a part of me felt like death, in this guise, had been a blessing.

And then, my father was killed. He was shot while at his office on August 4th, a year ago. I was at home sleeping, intending to wake up and go find my parents, hang out and have something to eat-drink, as was standard behavior whenever I was in Karachi. I never got the chance. I woke up to a phone call from my mother where I could barely register what happened because she was having trouble getting the words out. I just knew that something that happened to my father and that I had to go to Aga Khan where he was. And I did. But somewhere along the way to the hospital I felt my heart sink in a way it never had before. In that strange, inexplicable moment I 'knew' beyond a doubt that whatever had happened was very-very bad. And it was. I have not - and perhaps I will never - recover from the awful-awful pain of losing my father. I lost the center of my world that day, and it's been off-kilter since. Nothing will ever compensate any of us for what happened. Nothing will heal the wound that opens up fresh every time we think about it. Nothing will fill the large, clawing, gaping, vacuum inside our souls. And nothing will stop the tears from falling as I remember, like I'm remembering now.

Death doesn't bother me anymore. Quake's don't bother me anymore. Shoot-outs don't bother me anymore. I just hope that if anyone else I love has got to go this way, it's after I'm gone. I would much-much rather die, then have another vicarious encounter with death. Because then I join the ranks of people waiting-on-the-other-side and no longer remain amongst the ranks of the wounded. Amongst the living.


Anonymous said...

I know we all walk around,
carrying our broken and bruised
and desperately-put-together hearts.

I know sometimes we are too busy
taping and sticking and wiping off
our own, obsessively checking if our
glue has dried yet, that we don't
easily see the other hearts out there
and what caused that dent here
and crack there or that fragment to
be missing just on the side...

Reading this, I felt I was looking
at your heart. Right at it. It was
so bright it caused mine to burn a
little. Made my eyes water. Thank you
for this feeling. This sight. This

What a bright strong heart you have.
And how beautiful.

heewa said...

death is always hardest on those left behind.

ibteda said...


sharbet said...

That is a terribly sad way to lose a loved one. Despite what you say, you seem amazingly strong. Hugs from me too.

jadedworld said...

I was never really so conscious of death in it's absolute form as I am now... It really could be me!

May the Almighty grant peace to those who have left before us and to those left behind! Ameen!

mehreenkasana said...

Iron heart, iron lady.

You will go beyond. :)

Torn said...

I lost my brother (my only sibling) last year. He had a heart attack, he was 29.

Life stopped making sense.

I know your pain. I feel it and live it everyday.

God bless.

uglyduckling91 said...

At least you got to know your grandfather and your father. ^_^

the sheikh said...

It will get better. It always does :D

Also, your grandfather sounds awesome

(Jana mana gana adhinayak something somethingg)

Lysias said...

There was a quake? What time? I was in Isl for a day, i left yesterday at 6:30 pm.

And death is scary only when you're bothered by it. Sab kee likhee huee hoti hai, jab aani hotee hai, aajatee hai. It's that simple, albeit only in theory. But that simple.

Marina said...

From one who's lost her brother and beloved grandparents - and one living in the sector of the shoot-out: *hug*
As Mehreen said, iron heart, iron lady :)

Lonely Perverted Soul said...

hmmm... I feel sad now... its so strange that we walk around without knowing what the people living around us have gone through.....

OnLY OnE..! said...

I am speechless, I can't fathom the pain you must have gone through.
This post was so raw, and as anon said so bare - a person would have to be a rock to not feel a lump in their throat after reading this.

But you're one heck of a strong lady, and you're dad and granddad and Salman would be proud.

razmer said...

They'll be proud of you!

APOO said...

I am very selective with hugs and would never go about hugging someone I didnt really know. But halfway through this post, if you were anywhere close-by, you would get a big HUG.

Thats all I have to say!

Xeb said...

Anon: That was beautiful. Thank you :)

h: True that.

i: :)

s: Strength is selective I find. I manage, somehow to cope through the biggest disasters only to fall apart when my makeup is missing (true story). I'm just strange, I feel.

j: Unfortunately, it could be any of us. Stay safe.

m: :) I certainly hope so.

T: I'm so sorry. *hug*

u: That is true. And that is most definitely something to be grateful for.

ts: (from memory it goes something like this, btw thanks to my nana I can sing it in perfect tune) 'jana gana mana adhinayak jaya hai bharat bhagya widhata. Punjab, Sindh, Gujarat, Maratha (something-something) Ganga...'

L: It was sometime in the middle of the night I'm told. I was in Karachi, didn't feel it at all. And about death, I think you got it right. :)

M: :)

LPS: We carry our own burdens. Often there's no room for someone else's.

O: :)

r: Let's hope so.

A: Thank you, I appreciate the thought. :)

Eeda said...

'To the well-organized mind,death is but the next big adventure'

or something to that effect-by Albus Dumbledore.


Lemme cast off my pseudo-cheery state at this point to tell you that post was remarkably heart-rending. I wont tell you i know your pain, cuz thats a lie. i cant even begin to imagine.

words are feeble when it comes to solace.
*big squishy marshmallow like hugs*

Xeb said...

E: Dumbledore has a point, he does. :)

Lonely Perverted Soul said...

Well i have room to carry some... So feel free to offload anytime...

Xeb said...

LPS: Thank you for the offer, but I choose not to offload on anyone (aside from the blog ofcourse). That way I figure I shall avoid being indebted to any more people that I absolutely have to be! :) It's a strange strategy but it seems to work for me.

Lonely Perverted Soul said...

being indebted to the people you trust isn't such a bad thing... And is a part of life....