Farewell, Baba

He always taught me to strive, and stand apart
"There is no way to foretell when grief will take your breath away and send you scurrying to the places where no one can notice your big fat tears trickling down your cheeks."
"There is no way to foretell when grief will take your breath away and send you scurrying to the places where no one can notice your big fat tears trickling down your cheeks."Pixabay [Creative Commons]

Death is inescapable. Death is a promise. Death has a smell. It knocks us down. Life is a farce, a fraud. Life is a loan. This world is nothing but a sketchy imitation of reality. Life is unpredictable.

Death is inevitable. Life dances to the tunes of death. Death dreads. Death stares at everyone. It spares none.

There is no way to foretell when grief will take your breath away and send you scurrying to the places where no one can notice your big fat tears trickling down your cheeks.

Life has not been the same since Baba left for the eternal journey. His departure broke the proverbial camel’s back. I miss his radiant eyes that evinced a million tales or the curated words that conveyed so much beyond what was spoken.

No matter how stressful I was, his priceless smile would vaporize my worries. Sun shines, clouds cover the sky, the moon moves, everything is routine but my world has turned turtle.

“Certain losses don’t get past you but you incorporate them into who you are.” It feels like John Didion addressed it to me.

Bichda kuchh ada say ki rut hi bagal gayi

Ek shaks saare shahr ko viraan kar gaya.

He deserted his Aba (he would lovingly call me). I feel abandoned without him. He always taught me to strive, struggle and stand apart. He was once in a millennium soul.

He taught me to love & help in whatever way possible. Today, when I pray, I feel him around, calling my name.

I struggle hard to hold warm tears but I know he can’t be back. I crave his single glimpse.

Best-selling author C.S. Lewis writes in the opening line of his brilliant book “A Grief Observed”: “Nobody ever told me that grief felt so much like fear.” Fear of losing someone you love is suffering.

With his signature smile, he carried agony in his heart. Once I asked and he retorted with a Rumi couplet: “He said: Tell me what you hold inside it?” I said: Pain and sorrow. He said: “Stay with it. The wound is the place where the Light enters you.”

The person who gave me the best memories has become a memory now. That memory is my treasure. He changed my diapers & swallowed piercing pain for me.

I feel unloved without him. Since I came out of my mother’s womb- my first dress and address, Baba’s love was my succor. And when it was my turn to serve him, he left “Bagh-e-Eram.”

The last legs of his life were doleful days. He had pursed his lips. I could not figure out the reason for that uncommon stoic silence.

I vividly remember his face shimmering like a sunbeam when his soul took a hurried flight to attend the final call of the Creator. Humble humanitarian, septuagenarian Abdul Ahad was popular with the nom de guerre Tokal Kakh.

A larger-than-life figure, an unlettered volunteer, and a gem of a gentleman helped hundreds of widows, orphans & oldies and registered them with the Social Welfare department for the financial assistance they deserved and needed.

His prime target in life was to help the needy. He was a doer, not a preacher. His social work can never be erased from our memories. Man with a mission, his zest and zeal drove me to serve selflessly.

He gave me everything I asked, without asking for anything in return. Someone has aptly remarked that “only a dying person knows how much time he has left.” He knew it. He left me without bidding a formal adieu.

My chemistry with him was unparalleled. He stood like a pillar against all odds I faced. He nursed me with every possible comfort & braved all complex twists and twirls for my sake. He smiled and cried with me in both times of elation and distress.

He taught me the meaning of love. The word hatred was missing in his dictionary. He only knew the language of love. Humanity was the most respected religion for him.

He didn’t know the barrier of ego, caste, class consideration, race, religion, or sect. Seated on his prayer rug, I have always heard him praying for the prosperity of humanity. He was truly the gentleman of the tribe.

I am glad he stayed away from comparing me with others. He was a wonderful advisor. His bedtime stories told with customary tolerance still ring in my ears.

I live with his memories as Susan Sontag believes, “Memory is, achingly, the only relation we have with the dead.” He will never slip from my memory’s grip.

His motivating speeches are engineering a new impetus in me. One thing which reverberates in my ears time and again is, “Dear Abid, simplicity is the best adornment; live simple.” This sincere friend gave me unstinting love and support.

Death keeps no calendar. We are mortal beings. Every soul has to surrender. Death gives meaning to existence, reminding us of how precious life is. We all know the fragility of life; it is a temporary bus stop.

Baba, smiling from his permanent abode- “Jannat-e-Khurram” (blessed paradise) or “Firdaus-e-mamur” (exalted heaven), was a warden of the downtrodden & an ambassador of peace.

In 2014, On a sunlit July 30th, he left to offer mid-day prayers, but he was killed in a hit-and-run case by a spoiled brat. They found him collapsed on the road with blood oozing out of his head.

That fatal fall at the entrance of my village mosque constantly reminds me of the unkind claws of death. There were forlorn feelings. I could not reconcile easily. That emptiness I feel without him is indescribable. No loss is easy to handle, it comes with a cost- emotional, mental & physical.

The conventional way of working through grief is to pass through denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. Grief is the internal experience of loss. Mourning is its external expression. Acknowledging the universality of loss helps us cope with loneliness.

It is important to remember that there is no timeline for grieving. But gradually, loud mourning turned into quiet sorrow turned into measured remembrance turned into learning to live with absence turned into living again.

He did everything he could afford with whatever resources he had. C.S. Lewis says, “The death of a beloved is an amputation?” It truly is.

Usually, grief does fade with time but his loss created a permanent vacuum. Grief makes us feel isolated, damaged, terrified & scared of absolutely everything. When Baba died, all I wanted to do was go with him- wherever he was.

People came from far and wide to honor the people’s prince. Once he was submitted to soil with a heavy heart, part of me refused to believe that he is not among us anymore.

He may be physically away but definitely not gone. He lived a mannered life, a life rich with achievement, grace & respect. His unwavering love and faith in me have been the driving force of my life.

He will be remembered for his civility, humility, and simplicity. I miss him for all he was to me, all he meant to me. Baba, I miss you, terribly. On a parting note of this eulogy, a mournful dirge for you.

Khak-e-marqad par Teri le kar ye faryad aawunga

Ab duaye neem shab mein, kisko mein yaad aawunga.

(I shall come to the dust of your grave, bringing this lament. Now, who will remember me in mid-night prayers?)

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are the personal opinions of the author.

The facts, analysis, assumptions and perspective appearing in the article do not reflect the views of GK.

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