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Happy Birthday Papa!


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Papa meray Jan, I sit here with tears in my eyes and a lump in my throat, as I am still struck by the events of the last three months. Three months ago we didn’t even know about your headaches as even you didn’t realize it’s anything serious. We knew you were sleeping more than usual, but we really thought you were enjoying your retired life as you well deserved it. We could never have imagined a bit of headache and sleepiness could take away your life. Our lives have suddenly changed tremendously; nothing will ever be the same again. But Inshallah you are in a much happier place now. You left behind all my birthday gifts that I bought for you, you only had time to use very few of them. I’m writing to you just to let you know that on your 59th birthday I am missing you terribly.

This last month that we spent together re-bonded us so much, your endless hugs and sweetest kisses on my hands and cheeks are memories I will keep close to my heart forever. That completely new side of you where you let us take care of you and coddle you. You have always been the one taking up that role, waking us all up every morning, getting us to sleep, eat and exercise. Very few people are lucky enough to be given a chance to serve their parents. You gave us a golden opportunity by feeding you food, adjusting your seat, postures, massaging and exercising your hands and feet – looking after you. Every bit of food I put into your mouth I prayed to Allah to ease your pain. When I landed to Pakistan and mama was driving me to the hospital, I was walking towards your ward and I was desperately hoping that someone’s playing a really bad joke on me, I was hoping my ears heard it all wrong and you will be walking towards me to welcome me. I desperately wished so. But unfortunately my eyes deceived me as well.

 

Papa the welcome you gave me was really sweet. The twinkle in your eyes and the biggest smile on your face. You couldn’t stop kissing my forehead. I was shattered to see you in this condition. As soon as I met you I dashed to the toilet. I lied to you my tummy was upset. I had actually had burst into tears; I had no idea the surgery would be this massive, the iron brackets would be that deep, half your body would be paralyzed and your entire body would be this swollen up. I just could not believe my eyes as I just couldn’t picture you like that even though I was mentally prepared for the worst. You have always kept fit and were always up and about.  I just couldn’t control it I’m sorry. I tried my best to act normal when I was back into the room. I didn’t sleep for 3 consecutive days and nights after I reached Pakistan, I used to shiver at night. I was really anxious.

I’m really sorry you kept insisting repeatedly that you wanted me to take you home. I tried my best but the doctors and the others just won’t let me. They only let us take you home on the 17th, when there was your body – alone. Being with you day in and day out in the hospital was quite tiring physically but just looking at your janoo face was enough to throw all the fatigue away.  But every time I asked you if I should put Brylcream on your Tindi, your warm reply ‘Jee Janoo’ even if I asked you 5 times every day. You have always loved me putting that on your head since I was young. In spite of the disease, you were always in such a good mood and high spirits. Seeing all your friends coming over to the hospital and asking you how you are feeling and your reply every time ‘Mei behtar hoon’ (I’m better). Although it was obvious to everyone how much worse your condition had become every time they visited. Only once when you were in too much pain, you replied ‘Aj mei thora kam behtar hoon (today I’m a little less better). Every time I sat with you and put my hand on your forehead and asked you ‘do you have a headache papa?’ 9 out of 10 times you would reply ‘Nahi tou’. You would recognize all your friends even after they came to see you after 20 years from another part of the world, and then you asking me about the others in Canada and Australia who were unable to come, why they haven’t yet come to see me. You really wanted to see everyone and made sure no one was left out. You had an idea at that time didn’t you that it was your last meeting with them?

The day mama arranged a meeting with Doctor Moadad, that’s when we all were told clearly by him that there are no chances of survival and we sisters cried hysterically outside his office while we hugged each other, even Anya was crying. He said that he will tell you about your condition for the first time the next day. I was there with you when he came over, I gave you space and sat on the seat from where I could see you. He had a good long chat with you in the terrace while you lay in bed. When he left, I sat with you and asked you if you’re okay. That whole day you were very emotional. You looked at me and said ‘Nadiya, Dr. Moadad just asked me sir, do you have an idea of your condition, do you know what is the illness that you have’ … and while you tried to finish your sentence, I saw tears in your eyes and you became emotional and couldn’t utter the rest of the words. I was hugging you and wiped my tears off your shirt, but I wish I could have made you feel better. A while later when I distracted you by talking of other things, you said yes I would love to come over and see your house in England. You paused and then added ‘agar mei houn tou.’ (If I’m still here). Uncle Naveed was with us and you pointed towards him and said to me ‘Nadiya, Naveed uncle (G9) is your fatherly figure now. He will help you with any problems that you may have from now onwards’. The same day in the evening when Anya came to see you in the hospital, you said this little traveler should only sit in my lap, we put her in your lap and then you said ‘I love this little darling. I’m only worried that I will be missing a lot of her actions’. Sorry we gave you false reassurance by saying papa Inshallah you will get better, you’ve been such an amazing patient, you’ve been taking all your chemotherapy medicines and you’re so brave, you’ll see it will all turn out well. The doctors had clearly told us that with Chemotherapy and Radiation we are just trying to buy a little time (days) and there are no survival rates for this disease. We could see it in front of our very eyes; nothing was going to be alright… ever again. Papa nothing was in our hands, trust me if it was, and if we knew from the start that there is no cure, we wouldn’t let you go through any painful treatments at all, and we would’ve just let you be at home throughout just the way you wanted, but control was just taken away from us. But you were so brave and composed throughout.

227049_7829147301_8908_n Family holiday to San Francisco in 2007

 It was really hard seeing you in so much pain papa. I could see you quickly fading away. Time was our biggest enemy; every minute, you were slipping away from us.  Literally every day, another organ was losing its control. When I reached the hospital, and turned on the spot light near your bed, I saw metal piece inside your right ear, I couldn’t believe my eyes. It was a real horror story. But you never complained. The only thing that really scared you was the mask that they screwed on while radiation. Whenever affects of sedation were over, you would reach out your hand to me and shout, I’m falling over, take me out. And we would assure you saying it’s only a test and it will not hurt you. Then when they had to sedate you, and your eyes closed, I noticed a tear under your eye lashes. If only papa you knew how I felt. I would do anything to take the pain away from you but all I did was pray for your health while I looked at you with tears in my eyes. You would ask mama and me what to do if one feels very restless and anxious. We would give you tips of meditation but we didn’t know how to relieve your pain as only God knows the pain you were going through. I could literally feel the pressure building up inside your head every time I touched your forehead. It was indeed a very hard test from Allah.

I could see you determined to get well. I could see you were trying your best to stand up yourself. The way you used to move your right hand round and round to exercise your hand as the doctor had said exercise will make your hand stronger. Papa when I read out my 10 page long letter that I wrote for you in the bus and plane, you looked at me, laughed and emotionally cried also. It was a completely different side of you, but I loved you anyway. Your expressive acting of Noni and Bonnie from my letter (my childhood characters) was the cutest ever. Your jokes right till the end. Me asking you papa you remember the current post of my job, and your reply ‘yes – garbage collector’ and getting everyone in stitches. Your latest craving for mithai and mama’s new name ‘bhashani wali janoo’ as she once got sweets for you; telling us how naughty uncle Shehzada used to be in college, were things that would bring a smile to our faces. You whispering in my ear your feelings while there were a lot of people in the room. Your utter concern for our family even in that condition. I will never forget the day I reached the hospital, and you asked me Nadiya are you ok financially? Let me give you some money. I told you I’m fine thank you. Your saying to me in hospital that you will pay for my lunch meant so much. You’ve always been the most caring and generous father in the whole world. Even in the hospital, you complimented me on various occasions saying ‘nice shoes’, or nice bright clothes etc. you always took pride in us girls being well dressed. Even in the house, you would encourage us to be smartly dressed. Every time you had a trip abroad from the Air Force or PIA, you would always get us cosmetics and stylish clothes. In the hospital, mama asked you what is the one thing that you want to do now? You looked at us all and answered ‘to be with you beautiful girls’.

In the last two years, all our phone conversations have been about you being busy in building our house. You were always so excited in the project and wanted to make the very best house for us. You told me that my room will have such and such cupboards and you insisted that whenever I come to Pakistan, I have to stay with you. Every time I’m in the new house, I feel so emotional, my darling papa you have struggled so hard all your life, and have been so happy for us to be living in there as a family. I really wish you’d lived to at least live in our house for a day with us. It would’ve been your dream-come-true (and ours). When Nataliya was cleaning up your bed side drawer, she found a card that you had written for mama. When Nataliya passed it over to her, her eyes were filled with tears and she couldn’t stop crying. She told us you had not yet given that card to her. You had planned to give it to her when we moved to that new house. You wrote such amazing and beautiful words for her; even I couldn’t stop crying when I read it.

199711_4633037301_4916_n Family holiday to Abbotabad in 2005

 I could always count on you. Your Mobilink phone number was your first number ever and you never changed that. We have always remembered that like the back of our hands. Every time we needed the driver, help, had a problem or simply needed to know if everything was ok, we only needed to call you on that number. You number was always accessible. Specially since I’ve been so far away. I could always count on you. Every time I couldn’t get through to anyone else’s number and I began to worry about you all, you always picked up my phone with your reassuring voice, telling me always don’t worry Nadoo everything is perfectly fine. Papa I have literally longed to see your face in these last 3 years and 3 months that I spent away from you. You kept asking me when I would be coming over as you really missed me. I remember two years ago you even emailed me saying I want to ask you seriously if you can come here for 2 weeks. In your email you wrote I’ll get you your return ticket, can you please come? I really really wish I could. I’m really sorry papa. I was dying to see your face but I didn’t get permission. I did try my best. But I have serious regrets now. I have to live with this burden for the rest of my life. You were always so understanding and cooperative. I know papa when I came to you at the hospital, I was very late as the surgery had already taken place and you weren’t yourself, but nonetheless I am so thankful to Allah for giving me that precious time right by your side for more than a month. When I was leaving Pakistan this time, it was so unusual that you weren’t waving at me from the Rawal lounge. I know you’re up there somewhere papa, we will meet again Inshallah.

You know papa when I was here, I needed a letter for my work from the hospital. Till then I wasn’t told of your condition exactly. When uncle Hamdani emailed me the letter, and I read the medical term GBM for this disease, at first I thought may be it’s a good thing as it didn’t have the word Cancer. But when I looked it up on the internet, I was shocked and shattered beyond belief. The reviews and research articles that I read on this disease were devastating. I couldn’t sleep for days and days. Had to go to work straight every morning, as I needed time off to fly over to you. I used to be making calls at work, and because I was crying at the same time, I would press the mute button for a few seconds so customers couldn’t hear my sobs on the phone. Times were really hard papa. The world watched and very few had the courage to stand up with us. But at least we got to know clearly who our real supporters are. Everyone came out with their true colours. It’s these most difficult times in life when you know exactly how good friends and family are. And the people we think are the dearest sometimes fail us badly. But you kept telling me don’t worry about them; please don’t feel upset about them treating you like this. I know papa if you were well, you would never ever let anyone even talk to us like that. Papa you know nana nani, Bilal bhais’ family, Jafar chacha’s family, G9 brothers, uncle Sabeeh, uncle Qasim, (among many others) have been our best family ever. They made sure we were well fed and kept our morals high, and offered help in every way possible. We will never ever forget their support to us in this great time of hardship. You always stood by the quotation that “The hottest place in hell is reserved for those, who, in times of deep moral crises, maintain neutrality”. Allah is our protector and He sees and knows everything. He also knows what people disclose or hide so we have no worries.

You held my hand, asked me to sit with you, lie with you and keep telling you stories while you tried to sleep, I read out duas, sang songs to you, told you jokes and read out latest news from my android to you. When the nurse used to come for injections and I had to leave your bed, you touched my hand and asked me to come closer… You always wrote journals all your life. Even in hospital you would ask for your reading glasses, diary and pen. When I gave them to you, you held your reading glasses, looked from inside the glass and then just outside it and mumbled, ‘koi fark hi nahi hay’ (there’s no difference). I knew that day that the nightmare reviews that I read on the internet were all correct as your eye sight was the next target. You looked so adorable when you were writing your diary you were thinking aloud and writing. You also wrote Anya’s name in your scribbles. You really loved her like anything, even though you only met her 2-3 times in this life.  Sorry I’m not very strong physically to help you out more, as you remarked I need a strong man to lift me, not my kangri Nadoo when you wanted to get up from your bed.

Having spent almost one month with you in the hospital, I was with you one morning when you were asleep. Suddenly I noticed your eyes opening and that you weren’t responding at all. Suddenly you started having a seizure. I had never seen anyone having a seizure except in Greys Anatomy, I couldn’t believe my eyes. I ran to you and then the nurse. I saw you trying to say something to me desperately when the doctor came and filled your mouth with tubes and oxygen masks. That’s the day that you fell into coma and those seizures never stopped till the end. When you had the seizure, a doctor took Nataliya, mama and me outside and told us clearly that the prognosis given earlier (one month to one year) has now decreased so be mentally prepared. OC hospital told me clearly everyday there onwards that there is no hope, we are not expecting miracles. But I didn’t listen to them. I just liked to believe my fairytale dream will come true. But of course I can’t be selfish and see you in pain, you had to go away, it was meant to be.

I’m so thankful to God that I had the privilege to be with you till the very end. That morning I had massaged your swollen up legs, feet, arms and back. There were many bruises also on your back and arms. Your breathing was heavy, and every time you paused before your next breath, I panicked and ran towards you and once you took your next one, I kissed on your cheek thanking God you’re still alive. I was praying constantly for a miracle, looking at the monitor, calling the doctor all at the same time.  I was standing with you and suddenly your lifeline on the monitor turned straight. I wish I could stop it, I just couldn’t. I’m so sorry I couldn’t do anything. I didn’t leave your hand papa even when you passed away. I watched you take your very last breath. As soon as you left us, your hand felt so light as if all the weight and pain was suddenly gone. The doctors reached then and got us out of the ward. We stood outside crying for 40 hardest minutes of our lives. Then the doctor came out, Waliya and I ran to him, and he avoided eye contact with our eyes and said ‘I’m Sorry’ and we stared at his face and then each others. It was all so unreal, nothing was real. It just couldn’t be happening to us as we burst into endless tears.

Safari Villas Mall in 2008

Papa you could never see tears in our eyes. I will never forget my Rukhsati when I was going away and you hugged me, dropped a tear and then put your right hand on my window while the car drove off. You chose the cutest ever kurta for my Mehendi and your cute toes looked so perfect in the matching kheri’s you bought for yourself. You never kept a budget for the wedding expenses either.  I will never forget when Nataliya was getting married, one night earlier, she was getting the jitters. You saw tears in her eyes, went to her and said to her Taiya! I don’t care what the world thinks or says, you don’t even have to give me a reason, if you don’t want to get married, that’s perfectly fine. Just say so, I’ll cancel everything; you don’t have to worry at all. Your saying that meant the world to Nataliya and the very next day, she was a happy bride MA. When Waliya and I used to take you to for radiation in the ambulance and stretcher, you noticed tears in Waliya’s eyes and touched her hand to come close to you, and then kissed her and said that you girls are the strongest girls I’ve ever seen. And you told us to take care of Waliya. Papa I know we won’t be able to match how you always took care of Waliya as you have been the most perfect father, but I promise you we will take care of her in the best way possible. You know when you passed away, Mani uncle said to me in my ear while he hugged me ‘Nadiya your papa always came first in everything’.

I’ve heard life is not about second chances, but I’m really happy and thankful for Allah for giving us a second chance. Allah could have taken you away from us the first day you had a car accident, he didn’t as he wanted to give us all a second chance. Nataliya, Anya, Bilal bhai and I flew over to you and we talked heart to heart. I told you I love you so many times, and that you are the best father in the whole world. And Waliya told you she loves you 20 thousand, and you laughed and replied no I love you more. I asked for forgiveness, as I was not a very easy child; you said I never bothered you (I’m glad you forgot). You spoke your last words to us clearly also. I can vividly remember you asking us to always stay protected, never take a chance in life and always keep all your belongings safe. Also you taught us that it’s not money that matters in life, it’s actually health. In spite of the second chance, many things remain unsaid or undone. I should’ve told you that if you leave us, I will be missing you every single day for the rest of my life. I still wish I had held your hand a little bit longer or hugged you a little bit tighter.

Papa, the first time I ever saw you crying was in 98 in Tamman when dada Jan died, now I understand why you were crying. Now I know exactly how you must have felt. It really is the biggest loss that one can possibly have. It’s been almost a month now since you left us, but every night I see you in my dreams, I have images of you in my mind and I can’t sleep. Your words and images just linger in my thoughts all the time. I can’t even begin to imagine what it’s like for mama and Waliya as they’ve been with you all their lives. Every time you were out of the city for work, our fridge, microwave, UPS used to start acting up and we were so lost. Even now, the day you left us for the MRI test to the hospital (and could never return unfortunately), nothings been the same without you. None of the machines are working properly, when there’s no electricity, there’s pitch darkness, Even Peperica and Billoo haven’t been behaving well without your control in the house.

Papa you have always been an example of good health. Exercising regularly, eating habits perfectly in control so we are just all in a shock. Papa why did you have to go so quick, there are so many things that I wanted to show you – to share with you. I really wanted you to come here to my first home, you and I had planned to play many more Tennis matches together, (people used to comment on how good doubles partners you and I were), I had to cook for you now that I can cook well myself, and I wanted to share our mutual interest in cars and airplanes with you which I’m sure would make you proud. Although you are not here with us physically and its heartbreaking to adjust to the fact that you will not come back here, just want to let you know that everywhere I go, I see your face, every time I look at myself in the mirror, my eyes, my nose, my curly hair (you always told us we got it from you but we used to ask you for proof) or down at my extra long toe, I will be thinking of you. Every time I am walking alone and keeping my belongings safe, playing tennis, tidying up, organizing files, working with databases, driving (as you taught us girls including mama how to drive) or open my wallet (as it has a pic of you) I will be thinking of you. I will act upon all the lessons you have taught me. I’ll keep all my things organized, keep my belongings safe, exercise much, study and work as much as possible to polish myself further and  I’ll try to keep everything in moderation in my life. I remember when we two went on our biggest trek from Taxila to E-10, you taught me ‘When the climb seems endless, and the legs quiver under the strain, and nothing seems to go quite as you wish, it is then that you must NOT stop.’

I used your sim when you couldn’t so I received your calls. Every one you have ever worked with thinks so highly of you. I’m really proud of being your daughter, you were really a gentleman. I had to give the news to many of your friends who used to call you. So many uncles burst into tears when I told them the news. They all told me stories of how you helped them in different times. One colleague of yours from PIA cried so much on the phone, he said that you were his mentor. He said that you had been taking advice from him about our new home you were making for us, and you said to him that this is the first time that I am making something for my children and wife and so I want it to be the best of the best. Also he said that you can’t even imagine how much your dad loved you. I have never seen a father talk about his daughters with so much admiration, respect and love.

It’s really hard to put myself together, put up a happy face and walk around showing the world I’m okay (because I’m not) but take my word papa, I will live to make you proud. It’s also that this past number of weeks, you were the centre of my life, everything revolved around you, we were together day and night, hand in hand, and we were so used to it and so comfortable with each other that the thought that you are suddenly not there anymore is just too upsetting to get over.

You didn’t just go away papa, you have really taken a piece of my heart with you,

Love you forever and ever, Your very own Nadoo Jadooo

11-02-2012

537625_10150979205312033_1168664563_n Papas rough Draft for a video present for me in 2008

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Nadiya Najib

Nadiya Najib