Archive for the ‘ Death ’ Category

I See You

The first time I saw her she was standing in the corner of my room, staring at me. I had entered the room before my husband to inspect it. He had just bought the house and he had brought me over to see it as a surprise. I had recently had our second baby and this was his present to me, he believed in grand gestures.

I tried talking to her but she didn’t respond, she just kept staring back at me with her head slightly tilted and her long flowing black hair hanging around her body down till her hips. She had long bruise on her neck but while I could not figure out its probable cause though I could perhaps make a calculated guess.  

Assalamualiekum. Are you the caretaker’s wife? This is a lovely house, thank you for taking such good care of it.” I told her with a smile to put her at ease, trying to coax a response from her.

Armaan entered the room then and looked at me like I had lost my mind.

“Who are you talking to jaan?” He asked me with a worried look in his eyes.

“Who is that girl standing there in the corner? Does she live her?” I asked him, still looking at her.

“What girl? Who are you talking about Sairah? There is no one there.” He told me. “Do you like this room? I think this will be the perfect room for us.” He told me then seemingly to take my mind off this complex puzzle of a situation.

‘How can he not see her? Am I losing my mind or is he going blind?’ I thought to myself. She was still standing there looking at me blankly but her eyes seemed to flash with anger every time she looked at Armaan. 

I found myself feeling scared and reciting all the surahs and ayats I knew from the Quran hoping it would keep us safe from her if she was a bad spirit or jinn. I had complete faith in the paranormal and I intended to keep a Quran Khwani (Holy book recitation) at this place before moving in next week.

We moved into the house a week later; she was still in the room and Armaan refused to budge from his decision of making it ours. I knew he would just laugh at me and call me crazy for seeing her when no one else could so I willingly went along.

She didn’t say or do anything, just stood in a corner like a fixed piece of furniture and I became used to her being there. She would disappear sometimes, just for a while but she always came back. It was usually when I played the Quran, prayed or went for a shower. She never attempted to reach out to me in any way either.

I often wished I knew her name, I talked to her sometimes but I just called her ‘dost’ (friend). It became a habit or sorts. I would share everything with her, things that made me happy and the things that brought me pain. She became a sort of journal that I started sharing things with verbally instead of in writing. Her eyes seemed to reflect my joy when I felt happy and my agony when I felt sad.

She watched me closely, her eyes seemed to follow my every move and her being seemed to tense up and release negative energy whenever Armaan was around. She never left me alone with him, no matter what happened. Even if I prayed while he was around, she would not leave the room and it often made me wonder why.

I finally mustered the courage to look things up online to see if I could figure out her identity and her story. I had almost given up with I saw a news clipping with what appeared to be her picture.

“Woman allegedly strangled to death by husband for giving birth to girl”

I read the headline and felt tears rolling down my cheeks as I looked up at her again. My heart went out to her and I felt an overwhelming urge to hold her but how does one comfort a ghost? I finally understood the origin of the marks on her neck and I found myself struggling to breathe as I imagined what she had possibly experienced.

The incident had happened in Khalra, an area in India closest to us here in one of the recently developed phases of DHA Lahore. The news clipping dated back to 2012, around 8 years ago and she had been 30 years old then. Her husband had reportedly tortured and killed her in a fit of rage over the birth of their third female child.

 I found myself wondering why she was here in my house, so far from her own. I had always assumed that she came with the house and was maybe buried somewhere on the premises. Years of conditioning my Indian horror shows suggested that would be the case but it clearly wasn’t. Why then had she chosen this house and specifically me?

I found myself wishing there was someone I could discuss this with but there was no one I could talk to about these things without appearing to have lost my senses. I went online again to a page on Facebook which specifically discussed paranormal incidents and searched for information there.

I came across a number of women posting about an experience similar to mine and reached out to almost all of them. It came to my attention and struck me instantly that almost of them had died soon after their posts under mysterious circumstances. I reached out to their close friends and family in hopes of finding an answer. All they could tell me was that soon after they saw ‘her’ their loved ones died tragically at the hands of their own family members.

I found myself having trouble breathing and found myself unable to look at her; the probable cause of my possibly fast approaching death. I wanted to run away but how could I move out with two small children and a third one arriving soon. I felt myself panicking and feeling breathless, I was now worried that I would deliver prematurely because of the stress of the situation.

Oh God! I found myself praying for a way out of the situation. I needed answers and I knew that I could not get them from her. I prayed profusely for a miracle and for some way to be saved from what seemed to be my imminent death. She had not hurt me yet and it had been quite a few months since we moved to this place. Why hadn’t she killed me already if that is what she had wanted to do? Was she here to expedite my death? I had a hard time believing that. What was she waiting for?

I was losing my mind and I stared at her almost all night, unable to sleep. Finally slumber overtook me and I had a really bad dream. I dreamt that I had another daughter and Armaan went above and beyond his usual dose of abuse and ended up killing me. I woke up drenched in sweat and I started sobbing in agony as soon as I awakened. It seemed I had finally solved the puzzle; she had come to warn me and make an attempt at preventing my death.

I shook my head to clear my mind. Armaan wasn’t that kind of man. He would never kill me over the birth of another female child, would he? He had his heart set on a boy this time and he had been upset when I didn’t agree to an ultrasound but he would never kill me……?

I was feeling a whirlwind of emotions and so much uncertainty. I decided to talk to Armaan finally, yes, he was prone to bouts of anger and yes, he was abusive but he wouldn’t go as far as murder. Is that why she never left me alone with him? Was she scared that I would end up like her? She had always been in the room when he went into one of his abusive stupors but only her eyes changed in response. Wouldn’t or rather shouldn’t she have reacted more strongly to his actions?

What struck me next was the fact that this stranger who could not help me in anyways cared about me more than all the other people around me who possibly could.

“Samreet, will he really hurt me?” I asked her with tears running down my cheeks. “Will he kill me for giving him another daughter?” She just looked back at me the same way; her head tilted to the side but I saw one single, solitary tear run down her face.

The Alternate Path

Today he decided to be brave and break free
From the shackles of habit and familiarity
He bravely selected the alternate path
He took each step slowly but resolutely

It led him to a path with tall wise trees arching over it
The trees seemed to shelter the path to guide him forward,
The path led to a beautiful garden, colorful and fruitful
It seemed to buzz with life and coaxed him onward.

As the garden came to an end he saw a small cottage
With smoke billowing out of its chimney,
A warm and welcoming place it appeared
It seemed to have come straight out of Disney.

He knocked on the door and saw a pie on the window sill
It smelled like his favorite, apple and cinnamon,
It seemed truly to be a sign a good omen if you will
He experienced a slight increase in adrenaline.

An elderly man opened the door and gave him a big smile
“He’s finally here Emma, can you believe it? He made it at last.”
The old woman hugged him and held on for dear life
She looked, smelt and felt familiar, like someone from his past.

He was overcome by a strong sense of dejavu
How did he know these two beautiful souls?
They welcomed him into their home and hearts
They fed him pie with vanilla ice-cream in bowls.

The taste was divine and oh so very familiar
It reminded him of someone who had made it for him before,
It shocked him and brought him to a crushing realization
Like his grandparents he too wasn’t alive anymore.

Day 58

Every Soul Shall Taste Death!

I remember it like it was yesterday even though it was over two decades ago. There were two girls who were best friends with each other and were inseparable throughout college. The looked as different as night and day, Afshan had light hair and skin colour and she was always laughing. Bushra had long black hair and a wheat-ish complexion and she too was always happy.

They were a sight to behold as they laughed and talked together in the corridors of the college. A lot of people didn’t like them and called them cheap and other bad names but they didn’t care at all. They were good people and that is all that mattered in the end.

I had spoken to them a few times and I was acquainted with them but I wasn’t friends with either one of them. It was our second year of college and we received the new that Bushra had been shot and killed by her boyfriend. It was a shock to all of us and we gathered around Afshan to comfort her as she cried.

Bushra’s mother had picked out a pink dress for her to wear on that fateful day not knowing it was the last time she would pick out something for her daughter to wear. Her boyfriend had been her brother’s best friend and had lived very close to her house. It broke our hearts to learn that her body had been carried past his house for the final prayers and her burial. Her brother was abroad studying so he could neither attend her funeral nor take his best friend to task over his sister’s murder.

None of us knew what had actually taken place in that car that day. Had he threatened to shoot himself and accidentally shot her? Had he asked her yet again to marry him and had she insisted on ending things? Had she shot herself to prove her love for him? There were so many questions as there always are around such tragedies. Young love can often end very tragically more often than it ends in happiness.

We sat around Afshan trying our best to comfort her as she talked about her best friend and the pain of losing her, many people came to ask the questions that were not needed. As we all sat there trying to process the shock of losing such a young and promising life, others wanted entertainment. We sat with Afshan trying to get her to talk and register what had happened. There were a few people even at that point in time who wanted her to dish out the dirt on her recently departed best friend.

It made me wonder why even after someone’s death we want to focus on what they did wrong or how they were at fault for their fate. Why does it matter what actually happened that day as she was killed by the person she loved and thought loved her back? Why can’t we just accept that she has died and focus on preventing such things from happening in the future? Why can’t we help her friend remember her fondly instead of casting aspersions on the character of the deceased?

To date when I think about that lovely human being and the way her family lost her, it brings tears to my eyes and makes my heart break. It was a trauma I am not sure not just for her family but for everyone around her too. Everyone whose life she touched had to have experienced some shock or suffering. I remember someone telling me back then that she had been unable to sleep after hearing about Bushra. She had started praying because she had started to fear death and understood that it could strike at any time.

Is this perhaps why Allah allows such tragedies to happen in the first place? So that the rest of us get a wake-up call and realize that death is not far? So that we all understand that death does not strike at a certain age when we are ready and willing to leave the world, which we almost never are? Is that why I had to see an aged woman suffer through pain while a 6-month-old could not survive? Is that why perhaps a young soon to be bride died in a bomb blast close to where I was at that time?

Every death is a reminder for me that mine is not too far away. I was holding my grand father’s hand as he breathed his last along with my cousins. I have participated in ghusals and have felt my heart shake and tremble at the thought me being the one lying there one day. Then again, every death brings with it a sense of relief and gratitude.

I am still alive.

I can still change the way I live.

I can still strive to make a difference in this world to make it a better place.

I can still endeavor to be remembered as a good person.

I can still make every effort to change my destination to Jannah (Heaven).

Day 22

The Dream (December 1993 Series)

My mamoo (maternal uncle) used to call my Naani Amma (my grandmother), Apa (elder sister). They were very close to each other and their love for each other was exemplary. She had survived a brain tumor and a subsequent surgery to have it removed. It had been the size of a tennis ball and the doctors had predicted that she would never be able to walk again.

They were not able to remove all of it because some of it was near her optic nerves. She used to get really bad headaches when it pressed down on her nerves. When she had visited them for a follow up appointment a year later, they had been shocked to see her walking independently and managing very well.

She was a very religious & highly spiritual woman who never missed her obligatory prayers and even said extra prayers no matter what condition she was in. She woke up from a really bad dream one morning and called her eldest and favorite son Mian (his pet name) to her side.

She said she saw a road like a highway which led to a mazar (mausoleum) and she saw three evil spirits chasing her. She was really upset and very disconcerted so he assured her that he would take her to Bhit Shah (a mausoleum on the highway) so that she could pray and feel better. He reassured her that it was only a dream and as soon as he was free from a wedding in his in laws, he would take her there.

She tried her best to get rid of the dread and fear she was experiencing as a result of the dream but she was unable to shake it off. Her son left for a wedding function in Hyderabad and they got a call sometime later that he and his family had met with an accident.

A truck that had been overtaking on the highway had run over their car. The side that the truck ran over had no survivors whereas the people in the other half of the car had survived albeit with injuries. My mamoo and his two daughters had not survived the crash on the highway and all three of them were buried at Abdullah Shah Ghazi in Karachi.


Beautiful Companion

I have been coming to walk here almost daily since a few weeks. My son has been posted to the hospital and we have been given accommodation by the employer. It is a huge hospital and my son stays busy with his shifts and being on call. It gets lonely being alone indoors so I come here for a walk every day.

I have been observing her since I started coming too. She just comes, walks holding a green umbrella which has the initials PIA on it but she hasn’t opened it to date so I have no idea what they stand for. She has really long black hair that that she always ties in a braid which goes down to her hips. She is dark-ish and I would assume that she is of Indian descent.

I have been trying to smile at her in the hope that one day she might consider befriending me. I wonder if she comes because she has a child who is a doctor or if she comes to visit a patient. She is almost always alone and she always seems sad and somewhat scared. There is something about her that makes me want to hold her and tell her that everything will be fine. It is like she is asking to be comforted but will get scared out of her wits if a stranger approaches her especially, an old white guy.

She looks like she has been oppressed, a typical third world country woman who probably wasn’t allowed to go to school. She was probably married off to someone much older who she never even met before the wedding, perhaps a cousin.

She walked past me just then and I asked her if I could join her for a walk since I needed some company. She nodded and I stood up to walk with her. I offered her my hand as I introduced myself and told her my name. “Christopher.”

“Rizwana.” She told me her name and shook my hand.

“Are you Indian?” I asked her.

“No. I am from Pakistan.” She answered.

“So, you’re Muslim then?” I asked her. She nodded in the affirmative.

“Are you married?” I asked her then getting a little confident with her responses.

“Yes, very much so.” She responded.

“My wife died a few years ago otherwise I was married too.” She expressed her sympathy.

“You’re a very good-looking woman you know.” I complimented her then, getting braver with each passing exchange.

“Thank you very much.” She replied with a smile.

“Would it be right for me to assume that Muslim women don’t engage in extra marital affairs?” I asked her then dying to play with her hair as I lay with her in bed.

“It depends. I’m sure Christian women don’t ideally want to either so I’m not sure what it has to do with religion.” She replied and she looked like she wanted to laugh at me but was restraining herself.

“Did you get a chance to meet your husband before you got married to him?” I asked her. She burst out laughing and then apologized if she came across as being rude.

“Yes, I did.” She replied still smiling.

“Is your husband a doctor here or one of your children or are you just visiting someone in the hospital?” I asked her. She smiled again and she had a beautiful, full, genuine smile, one that made you want to smile along.

“You sure have a lot of questions. I work at the hospital. I am a senior consultant and have been working here since over a decade now.” She replied and I felt shocked at her response and ashamed for my presumptions at the same time.

“What brings you here?” She asked me then.

“My son Jason also works here and I am living with him so I just come to walk here everyday for a change in scenery.” I told her.

“Oh, you’re Jason’s father? He’s a really good doctor with a lot of potential. He is on my team actually and I expect good things from him.” She told me and I was shocked. She was my son’s boss, this woman.

“I’m so sorry. I must seem like such an ignorant man, I made so many presumptions about you based on how you look.” I told her genuinely feeling sorry and awkward.

“It’s okay. I come across a lot of people with similar questions and I enjoy learning their perceptions about me every time. Not everyone is as nice about it as you are though so that should make you feel better.” She told me trying to put me at ease.

“Don’t you get annoyed at such people?” I ask her then.

“I find it amusing most of the time and I am happy to address their notions, so that they will be more careful with other people in the future. This one time a man proposed to me knowing I am already married because he thought I was allowed to marry four men at a time.” She told me laughing.

I looked at her sheepishly. “I don’t blame him. I was thinking the same thing. I would have loved to marry someone like you too if you were allowed to marry multiple people.” Then she laughed again. She thought I was joking which was a good thing I guess because she called me a sweetheart for being so nice.

“What does your husband do?” I asked her then.

“He is a doctor too. He’s amazing and we had a love marriage. We studied medicine together and fell in love. We moved to America together and have been living here since.” She told me. Her pager beeped and she took her leave.

“It was nice to meet you Mr. Christopher. I really enjoyed your company.” She told me as she left to attend to her patient.

I asked my son about her that night. I told him how I had met her and how she told me about her husband. I asked him what kind of man her husband was and he looked at me like I was crazy.

“She told you about her husband?” He asked me.

“Yes. She told me how he is a doctor as well and how in love they are.” I told him.

“Dad her husband died a decade ago. He is buried in that small cemetery next to the park. She is not a doctor; she is just a housewife. They came here illegally so she had to let the hospital bury her husband in this cemetery. He was a doctor and he was abusive towards her. He used to beat her and almost killed her a few times.

She lost her mind when he died and she had nowhere to go so that hospital lets her stay in her husband’s accommodation. She spends most of the day at her husband’s grave and then goes home at sunset.”

“I think you are talking about someone else Jason. This woman wasn’t crazy, she was perfectly normal and she told me you work in her department and that you have great potential.” I told him.

“Dad, Rizwana is a psych patient. I work in that department and she has started believing that she is a doctor, she plays the part well. She even carries a pager around that a doctor here gave her as a present instead of discarding when he got a new one. Please don’t get fooled by her and stay away from her. She is dangerous and highly unstable. Please do not engage with her ever again.”

“Why do you people let her walk around if she is that dangerous?” I asked him then feeling a little scared now.

“She is always watched, visiting his grave helps calm her down so we let her go everyday but someone is always keeping an eye on her. Always.” He told me.

I wasn’t sure if I had felt like a bigger fool when I had been talking to her or now when I realized she was actually crazy but saner than most people I had ever talked to in my life.

Reach Out

He felt stuck and suffocated. He had reached out for help so many times and from so many people that he had started to feel like a beggar.

All his life he had heard people tell him that patience bears fruit, that there is always light at the end of the tunnel, that is it always darkest before the dawn and other such nonsense but he seemed to be stuck in a night of eternal despair.

Even when the morning came, it did not bring hope and today he decided would be the last time he ever reached out but he also promised himself that it would be his best effort to do so.

The light was too far from his reach so he closed his eyes, touched his finger to the ever-evasive speck of light on the horizon and felt a strong spiritual energy enter and fill the emptiness he had felt within his heart and soul. For the first time in forever he smiled and then his heart stopped beating, bringing his misery to an end.



Life As I Am Coming to Know It

We always hear about how life is unfair and how things both good and bad can happen when you least expect it. Last year was a miserable year in many ways and a good one too in some ways. This year started with new hopes for a better year and some of those hopes were fulfilled. New house, new job, visa, car, wedding, etc… However it has had more than a fair share of bad things happening too. One so bad and so sudden and so disturbing that I don’t even feel like writing about it. It makes last year seem like a bad dream in contrast to a menacing nightmare that this year is turning out to be.

We always hear about how God has great things planned for us and whatever misfortunes or rather tragedies befall us only make us stronger and are for the best, etc etc but sometimes it is really hard to understand the WHY behind the things that happen to us and to those around us. Why for instance does a 90 year old live while a 5 month old perishes? Why do people die of thirst and hunger while others waste the same resources? Yes I know life is not meant to be fair, but how unfair is it supposed to be? Is there any measure of the injustice versus the good?

We hear that God answers prayers so today I pray to God to forgive me and my loved ones and to protect us all from the harm that has come and is coming or may come our way. I beseech Him to place a shield between us and all that is wrong, bad and evil in this world, including the evil that resides within us.