Sep 16th when I stepped out of that banquet hall, I was happy and so were number 1 and number 2. We were all smiles because we had had fun.
The next day was a rainy and soggy and unexpectedly warm one. We planned to go out to see the dentist for a routine visit and then number 2 asked me if she can have a hair cut.
We went to the store and there was some promotion going on and I myself and both of them got free hair styles.
Little did I knew, that exactly at that time, thousands of miles apart, my 68 year old father might be calling my name in pain. That he might have felt thirsty when that cruel person stabbed him right through his frail, old bones. That he might have felt cold as life left his body.
As we reached back home, I put number 3 to bed for a short nap and the older ones walked out to play and have fun with their friends. I started to prepare dinner and my phone rang. I saw my brother’s name blink and I thought “Oh now he finds time to talk to me” and I ignored the call until after I finish cooking. Then his wife called on Whatsapp. I reacted the same way. Then he wrote on my Facebook wall “Amber call me ASAP”
Telling myself in my heart what a big drama this man is, I called him back but his incoming call interrupted mine again. I asked what’s the rush and he just kept saying my name. I rudely told him to stop playing and come to the point and he kept asking if there was any one else in the house. Then I yelled and screamed at him and asked him again. I knew something was not right. And then he told me what my mind can still not process. He told me that someone stabbed my father and that he is no more.
And people say qayamat sirf aik baar aati hay…. (And people say Armageddon comes only once)
Rest are all details. When number 1 and number 2 stepped back in later that evening, the entire scene was changed. I think I was crying or perhaps screaming or something like that. They saw me and could not understand what happened. The house quickly filled with family and friends and neighbours and acquaintance.
I do not know how I travelled from Toronto to Karachi, when I stepped down in the most beautiful place in the world, how I reached the place I still call home, when I hugged my sister, when I held my wailing brothers.
I only remember that his body was ice cold when I tried to kiss him one last time, and I looked at him and I screamed who would want to kill this man.
I was always proud of the fact that for whatever time I have lived in Karachi, I never encountered any street crime, mobile snatching, theft, robbery. Never. And now this very place took away the man who gave me a surname.
My father (May Allah grant him highest place in Jannah) was a hot tempered man, and my Daadi, his mother used to refer it to his name. And also to the spicy food, that he loved and would throw a tantrum if he would not get a green chilli with his food.
That same man, who my mother used to pamper like a child, made sure that when Ammi was gone, he would make it up to us for the both of them. He would call us multiple times a day, visit us randomly, even send texts on Whatsapp, brings presents on Eid and Skype with us every chance he could.
I used to get upset when I’d find out he had been out visiting people who were not really well wishers of the family. He would reply “Its okay, let them do what they do, and let us keep doing what we do”
There were old women at his funeral out of nowhere, who hugged my brother and told him how sorry they feel and that my father used to help them run errands.
And at home, in the fridge lies that plate of his, in which green chillies been lying for a week now. He was fond of green chilis and onions and so am I. Ammi used to stop me and he would get me chicken corn soup and chaat from street vendors when she was not around. I love beef and he used to save his portion of meat in his plate for me.
Two days back during the morning rush, number 1 turned to me and said “I remember Nano was so funny. He used to do puppet show for us with the Big Bird. I miss him already”
It is a complete torture and it won’t stop. Until there is a closure; until we find who did it. Which I doubt because I know how the system works. How the police operates. There is no evidence, no witness. Will there be a closure?
Because no matter what, no body deserves to die like this.
So many should haves and could haves pound the insides of my temples. So many perhaps circulate in front of my eyes. All these days, myself and my siblings just kept brain storming, speculating, questioning, answering, crying and just being insane.
I am not paranoid but this incident has made me one. One night, middle of the night, we, scanned the whole house, just thinking what if someone came and threw the weapon here.
My children will grow up without Naani and Nano and their crazy emotional love.
And then the guilt that while he was helplessly breathing his last, in that pool of his own blood, I was getting my hair done. The pain may go away. Time may heal this loss but the guilt I feel is going to last forever.
Somehow I did muster the energy to put my grief into words. Because this is my catharsis. It may not heal the suffering but sharing grief does make it lighter. Just looking for some air to breathe.
Say a little prayer for him….and for her who must be happy now that they are together!