It seemed like a festive season that was dressed in despair and gloominess. Our extended families were beaming with joy. People we had not seen in ages had come to bid us farewell. For me, I had chosen silence as a response to show my discontent with the unravelling of the unfortunate events. I was just caught up unprepared in the midst of a storm. I had no control over anything. I had no say in it. None of us had. A lightening quick flashback of the key events is all that my brain has retained of that horrible evening of 22nd September 2003.
22nd September 2003
My father arrived at home, a surprise “birthday” party was arranged to celebrate my sister’s graduation which concealed the hidden agenda of our departure from Pakistan, passports were handed to us which bore the NZ Residency stamp, hands went numb, eyes scanned the passport, again and again, trying for it to be a dream or joke perhaps – it was not, the cake was distributed, “congratulations” was the only word on everyone’s lips, dinner was served, the next few days were planned to the last minute and things changed forever.
25th September 2003 – Day
Disgusting food, hundreds of hugs, more last minute advises and the social obligations of entertaining visitors. Barely alive.
These people arrived at our house early in the morning and failed to leave until late. I silently pleaded, “Please God, make them leave early today, I have to mourn. We all have to”.
25th September 2003 – Night
The night was different. Everyone had gone home. All the lights in the house were out. I used this opportunity to start sketching a mental picture of everything that had been home for the past years. I would need it again.
Buzzing fridge, patchwork quilts, sleeping on the floor, closed door of the bathroom, washing machine in one corner, plants in the balcony, my wooden locker, suitcases, bags, a pencil and a slipper under the desk, the markings on the cupboard, the chipped door and that little cockroach making its way to somewhere. That cockroach too was home.
This room was where we had been a family. Sleeping together, fighting with each other, dreaming about things and living. It will be no more.
Not a word was being said. There were no consolations. We were flying in less than 16 hours.
I looked at my mother. Her chin was resting on her hand. I wanted to get up and hug her; I wanted to cry with her. I wanted her to tell me that this was a dream and that I was not going anywhere. But I was unable to move. The pain in my heart weighed me down or perhaps I was too weak to accept that I would be leaving her. Tick-tock, tick-tock – that ugly sound. Time was the enemy.
I was trying too hard to not break down. To not look at my mother. To not look at anyone. I was trying to be brave.
My strength failed, my courage dissipates and I crawled to her. I reached her; I blindly hugged her and started to weep. I cried for the time we had spent together, I cried for our helplessness, I cried for that night.
Taking my lead, all my siblings came closer and we hugged each other and we cried. We silently mourned through the night. Our family was breaking apart. Our hearts were so heavy, we were in excruciating pain. I silently hoped for a miracle.
Every part of my body down to my cells were trying to resist the idea of leaving Mama behind, but I believed my father’s decision of a “brighter future” for us had more authority to it compared to all our desires combined. I think that if wishes had any power, my wish would have torn the fabric of the sky. Nothing happened.
Last hope. God.
I prayed to God:
“Now would be a good time to relieve me of this life”
25th January 2017
That night, I was stabbed in the heart several times, and then if that was not enough, stabbed some more until that knife or whatever it was, broke. I had to deal with all of it. You know, fixing it and stuff!
But, why had I been thinking about something that had happened a long time ago? Some wounds never heal and they come back to life as soon as something similar happens.
When I looked at the sky tonight, I thought: Now would be a good time to relieve me of this life. I knew I had said this before.
This separation and breaking the family had left a permanent mark on my life. The way I seek family in strangers, the way I seek familiarity in things, the way I seek for a home in every place, the way I find myself attached to objects.
I am getting separated from the one thing that had provided me meaning for the last so many years and of course! The pain of separation is killing me. Why wouldn’t it?
All those bottled up emotions of years have resurfaced and I am just an absolute mess. Why wouldn’t I be?
And, they tell me, it is good for you. If it was good, why do I not feel it?
Yes, I will connect these dots in the future while looking back in the past but leaving my family that day still does not make any sense and it still does not connect and I still carry that burden. How will this? One may say, I will figure out a way. Haven’t I always?
Writing is my only comfort right now.
The words spread out, desperately trying to make sense.
Trying to write about the heart that is left lying on the corner of the street
Turning blue and black
It is dirty too
Why wouldn’t it be? It has been left lying on the corner of the street
It was cuddled
Cuddled before being left on the corner of the street
It was too much of a burden to carry it around
So, she let go of her burden and left it lying on the corner of the street
The heart that hurts should stay away from her
Away just like it is now – lying on the corner of the street
She does not care about it anymore
She does not care about the heart that is lying on the corner of the street
She looks at it and walks away
Walks away from the heart that is lying on the corner of the street
Free at last!