28th November started as just another Eid day, with the usual getting together at my cousin’s place where we all meet for lunch (while some look after the sacrifice). Sometime after noon, my father received a phone call and then somehow everything became vague, and pointless…a young cousin had passed away and all I could see was his mother’s face, a beautiful smiling face from what I always recall.
Life is strange and brings with it even stranger experiences – you are busy catching up with life, complaining there is so much to do in such little time, sharing and laughing together with your loved ones, and then you hear about death in a near quarter and life comes to a sudden halt. Something pinches you and reminds you that to God we all must return… but it is often the ‘untimely’ or young deaths that shake you to the core. You are just so not ready for them. And that reminds you that no matter how old a person is, when it is someone from the family, you just cannot bear to let them go. While young deaths are sad enough as they are, it is often the grieving family and especially the parents for whom your heart melts. How do you tell a mother you are sorry for her loss? Nobody in the world can ever sum up even an ounce of pain that she goes through as a part of her is taken away. How do you tell a sibling that you are sorry to hear the bad news? Nobody can ever match the years of being brought up together and nobody can ever feel the sense of loneliness siblings perhaps go through as a childhood partner is taken away – forever.
When family chains are broken, they also bring the family together. When I saw my parents and my father’s sisters cancel all the planned events and rush to Khanewal to be with their cousins, it got me thinking what a blessing it is to have a family who loves you and supports you, and will stand by you in all times. They probably will not make it to the funeral as the drive from Islamabad to Khanewal is about 9 hours, but that’s not the point. They wanted to be with their cousin and that’s whats important. It’s the love you inculcate in your children in the wonder years of bringing them up, the sense of ownership of being part of a larger family that holds them together as they grow up and scatter out in the world. They may not meet each other often, but their hearts remain connected. And that’s when we all realise the strength and magic of a bond called family. And that’s what makes you stronger, even in the worst of your times.
A very dear cousin put up this poem on her page today, and I wanted to share it with you all, with a request to please say a word of prayer for Minhal Hassan Jaffri.
“When Family Chains Are Broken”
It’s never quite the same
But God takes us one by one
And links the chains again
A tender moment that brings a tear
A silent wish that you were here
Without a goodbye you went to sleep
But precious memories are ours to keep
A loving smile, a heart of gold
No finer person this world could hold
No words we write could ever say
How much you’re missed everyday
If tears could build a stairway
And memories could build a lane
We would go right up to heaven
And bring you home again.