Suffering Loss.


My grandmother, the fiery child bride suffered her share of heartbreaking, gut wrenching  losses in her life. The first was of her eldest son, her firstborn child Waris, who ran in front of a car and was killed when he was five years old. I can’t imagine what she must have felt, how she must have coped with this unbearable loss. Then for three months, she thought her second child, Wahid was also lost to her. My uncle Wahid was in a boarding school, Saint Stephens. A very exclusive school where only sons of English lords and Indian aristocracy went. One day, a Sikh friend of his insisted that he come to his home for a big party that they were having for his sister’s wedding. My uncle tried to brush him off, but his friend was adamant that he should come. So they went. The next day, there was a massacre of all the Muslim students by an anti Muslim Sikh group. My uncle’s friend had heard that this was going to happen and had taken him out of the school to save his life!!! It gives me literal goose bumps just writing about this! My uncle stayed with him for a while. But these were uncertain times, during the partition of India into India and Pakistan. So as not to endanger his Sikh friend’s family, my 17 year old uncle went to “Lal Qila”, the Red Fort, where all the Muslim refugees were housed. He stayed there for three months, with no way to get word to his parents that he was alive and well. As I said, these were uncertain times and he was in Delhi, his parents were in Moradabad, many miles away and there was no way to inform them of his safety. For three months, my grandmother thought that my uncle Wahid had perished in the massacre!! Eventually my uncle Wahid made his way back home. I can not imagine what joy and happiness and feasts that took place upon his return. I am so happy for my dearest grandmother, my Nani Amma that at least this time she didn’t lose her son. The next time, there was no miracle, there was only great sorrow, this was in 1969. Her youngest son, handsome, intelligent, beautiful, loving Khalid Ahmad was lost to her. He had joined the Pakistani army and was coming to visit my grandmother, to actually surprise her. His friend who owned a motorcycle had agreed to give him a ride to Lahore, where my grandmother lived with my mother, my aunt, uncle, my little brother Farooq and me. All of a sudden the atmosphere in our house became tense, frightening, and dark. My uncle had been in an accident with a bus as he was riding on the passenger seat on his friend’s motorcycle. His friend walked away from it. But my uncle suffered terrible head injuries and was brought to the hospital where my mother worked. No one would tell us children anything. I remember asking if someone had died. I was told to pray, and of course with the innocence of an eight year old girl, I prayed and prayed. I even used to believe in fairies then, so I was convinced my prayers to almighty God would be answered. But it was for nought. My uncle Khalid, 21 years of age, did not survive. And this time I didn’t need to imagine, I saw my grandmother’s immense sorrow, her wailing and crying. We all cried. What else could we do? Then of course many years later, my brother also left us. Sorrow upon sorrow. I wish I believed in god. I would ask him why he did all this to us. Why so much suffering? Why so much loss in one family? But I don’t believe in all that. So I ask no one.

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