42 days on

I’m sitting alone at home on a bed that needs to be made, Ms. Murdoch’s first novel (Under the net) lying face down on the fourteenth page beside me. I have possibly just drunk the most delicious mug of tea ever made by myself, preceded by a rather satisfying bhutta….zapped for 3 minutes, sprinkled with lemon, salt and chaat masala. Minnie has just joined me and my warm laptop, depositing herself in what I would deem an awkward position, but then who can question Minnie and her ways?

She has spent most of the afternoon curled morosely on a cushion on the settee under the living room window and I have been pussyfooting around her. I’m feeling anxious as she has been behaving strangely since the last two days, hissing and growling if I dare to move when she’s snuggled next to me or on my comforter. I first felt a weird lump on her soft underbelly when I tried to scoot her off my bed and into her basket in the middle of the night, when the need to turn over overcame the fear of disturbing her.

She doesn’t let me touch the lump and today I observed her as she sat growling to herself, unable to jump on to the window sill when I pulled up the blinds. It seems something is hurting her; she also feels feverish. She is not jumping on and off things with the graceful agility she normally displays. This is so worrying. I’m writing this post because I don’t have a cat support group. The other day my father told me to stop this cat nonsense now, it isn’t good for my health and who knows if the cats even care about me, I should start caring about humans more. Lately I have been hanging out with stray puppies and their moms, adding to his concern.

Of course I’ll have to take her to the vet tomorrow. I’m just anxious about how I’ll get Madam Teeth and Claws into her carrier, that’s all. Today I thought about the handful of vets in Karachi and wondered if there were any young people studying veterinary medicine these days. It seems so unlikely. <Irrational fear of something happening to current crop of vets and no one left to go to anymore>

I may not have mentioned this before, but I have been busy letting go of one maid after another and quite at peace, happy to clean the house the way I like it, no longer getting unnecessarily annoyed at the various ways hired help tends to annoy.

This morning I had set the alarm for 6:30 am, but continued snoozing for another 15 minutes, and then another 15 minutes, managing a quick horrible dream in the process. It was a dream in which huge cows were being tortured in some unseen way by some shady-looking humans sitting by the road. And then I found myself dissecting a little animal that happened to be a furry brown baby bear that didn’t bleed.

My subconscious is a frightening place.

The thought of being amongst people I know (apart from immediate family) makes my heart beat faster. I feel reclusive and justified in being so because being social for the sake of being social, or even because I-am-invited-therefore-I-must-go makes no sense. I’d rather be quiet than talk, and I have no taste for being talked ‘at’ either, any sort of unsolicited advice about anything at all. Often, I don’t even want to listen and I’m wondering….what’s going on? How long will this last? Do I need to make a conscious effort to shun my natural instincts?

I am reluctant to join my friends for lunch/dinner dates. I know they care and want to make me feel better and I know I eventually will. I DO like being with people who have felt deeply and who aren’t unwilling to wear their vulnerabilities on their sleeve. For now, I think I’ll continue feeling more lost than is usual, a little unfocused, a little distracted, a little irritated, quiet but belligerent. Honestly, I just need one person to do quiet things with, and one of those people is sitting in Laos at the moment. To tell the truth, said person and I often don’t really like to do the same quiet things anyway, so life can be difficult in that sense.

Found great satisfaction in scrubbing floors with an alkaline solution and a brush today. Then my mother in law dropped in, and though it was nice to have her company for a bit, I didn’t want to be told that I need to let go of some things because there are better ways to spend one’s time and no one needs to hurt their back.

Just let me clean things up after myself, won’t you world? That’s all I feel capable doing these days and not only do I enjoy the quietness it brings, I’m burning a lot of calories.

It has been a month and 12 days since my nephew died. I have regained my appetite and he isn’t the first thought that pops into my head when I wake up anymore. I’m not crying last thing at night either. Is this a good thing? Perhaps so.

For the last three Sundays I have visited and sat with him for some time, once with just Amu, then with just Fatu, and then with Fatu and Sax both. It was a different experience each time, and each time I have been struck with interesting thoughts, about life, and about death.

The first time, Amu and I watched the bees as they were attracted by the roses, the eagles as they glid over the graveyard, the butterflies that fluttered by, two cats that hid among the graves….and suddenly, the cemetery didn’t seem so…dead…anymore. Amu and I then wandered about and explored, reading out names of people long gone. And as we left, I noticed that Hasan’s marble name plaque had already been stuck to his headstone. I cried as we walked back to the car and drove home.

The next week, it was Valentine’s Day and on an impulse I bought heart-shaped balloons from a vendor. We cried as I drove to the graveyard, tying the balloons to stones on Hasan’s grave when we got there. Then we sat in the shade of an umbrella that I had brought along and read out passages from Camus’ ‘Youthful Writings’, and that helped stem Fatu’s tears temporarily for which I was grateful. She showed me videos she had taken of him just days before he died. He was so alive. He was just here. And now we were leaning against his grave, and all we could do was watch him on the phone screen. It didn’t make any sense at all. We stayed there for a couple of hours, talking and reminiscing, listening to Adele, (she finds her voice to be very soothing) making potpourri from dead flowers. Some people passing by stopped to see Hasan’s colourful grave, especially the children, who looked transfixed, solemn. Unlike the white marble structures all around, this one stands out, being covered in painted pebbles, loving words inscribed on them by friends and family.

As we left, the balloons waved in the breeze and Fatu said, ‘look, he’s waving bye.’

Heart broke, once again.

The third visit, we swept away all the accumulated dead flowers with a broom Fatu had brought along, wiped all the pebbles clean (are we going to clean up everywhere we go?) noted that some had been stolen, probably by the kids from the colony, who wandered around the cemetery. There were three little girls hanging around, watching us from behind a bunch of graves, probably amazed at the sight of three women in hats and umbrellas, how outlandish. They inched closer, curiosity overcoming shyness, and we decided to share our oranges with them. ‘Girls always did like hanging around Hasan,’ Fatu commented with amusement, tearing up almost immediately.

It was quite a social event, there were so many visitors quietly doing their thing, washing the dust off marble, dotting the graves with fragrant red roses, the sun already making its presence felt. Summer would be unbearable here. A goose dunked its head repeatedly in a pool of water from a flowing tap, fluffing its feathers out, flapping its wings.

I realized that this place had a life of its own, that it didn’t end here, it went on. It went on for all the people who continued to love and miss and remember all those who had passed on, and they turned up here with love and remembrance and a strong need to continue to be connected long afterwards. For us, this is a new beginning. This is a new life, and it is one without Hasan in it. As Sax said, we were all living in a sheltered bubble before, death had not touched us this close. All around us we had seen other people grieve for their lost husbands, their wives, their mothers, their fathers, their daughters, their sons. We are just scrambling to understand, no choice but to feel all our individual feelings of grief and loss at losing Hasan, our son, our nephew, our grandson, our almost-14 yr old cousin.

It has been an intense month, and I am just coming out of it, still mourning. It is too soon to ‘move on’, to resume ‘normal’ life just yet, I’m not even the same person I was two months ago. I’m looking at the recent past as ‘before Hasan died’, or ‘after Hasan died’. I don’t know when this will stop being such a jolt to the brain. I can’t even look at little boys without a sinking feeling in my heart.

Time is a healer, is what they say. Who knows, that might even be true.










  1. Ocean Bream says:

    My thoughts are with you, Munira, and my heart aches for your loss. I hope and pray for you. He will never be forgotten, his sweet memory in all of your hearts.

    1. Munira says:

      Thank you, Lenora. We really, really miss him.

  2. hugs ❀
    its so soothing to read your writing…

    1. Munira says:

      I love looking at this picture of you three ❀
      *hugs back*

  3. berlioz1935 says:

    Yours are the reminiscences of a beautiful soul. You live at a particular time of your life. The “jolt” you were given has aftershocks like an earthquake. Reminders, of the young life gone, are lurking everywhere. The video you mention will always be there and will become the permanent memory in your thoughts too.

    It is particular hard when a young person dies. My sister passed away last week. But I’m not grieving. She had a long life in which she braved illnesses for forty years. As a child she was a horrible sister (three years older) to me, but she turned into a caring adult person. I saw her last four years ago in Germany. For the last thirty years she lived in Austria and we have grown apart telephoning occasional. Last time I spoke to her at Christmas, hardly recognising her voice. Her passing was the relief the yearned for.

    Life goes on and we, the bereaved, will find our balance according to our own make-up and circumstances. Dear Munira, you have friends everywhere and we all appreciate your thoughts you are sharing with us.

    1. Munira says:

      I am sorry to know that your sister passed away Peter, I suppose all the factors you mention make a difference in how one feels when one loses a family member.
      Your words reflect so much calm wisdom. Though I didn’t live with Hasan and didn’t get to see him so frequently, he was an integral part of my sister’s household and it is very very strange to not see his face when we go over. His grandparents and his aunt live in the same house and they all doted on him. He was a lively presence, always looking for fun, loved to experiment with food, very well-mannered and respectful and loving. It has been amazing to learn of all the people who remember him in nothing but glowing words, his school friends, his teachers. Makes it all the more heartbreaking that he is no more. Such an inexplicable death.
      Yes, the reminders are everywhere.

  4. auntyuta says:

    Dear Munira, you say: “Time is a healer, is what they say. Who knows, that might even be true.”
    I think, it must be true. Even writing this blog, may have helped you a bit?

    1. Munira says:

      Yes Aunty Uta, it does feel good to write my feelings down here, it helps to articulate with written words. I guess being an aunt I grieve for my dear nephew and I also grieve for my sister and my brother in law….they have lost their raison d’etre in a way…it feels like they have been robbed of their precious treasure, the last 15 years, the entire duration of their marriage. I also grieve for my niece, who has lost her only brother. They fought like cats and dogs, yet they were such a pair. It is heartbreaking to lose half of a pair. They were just a year and nine months apart.
      Life will just not be the same without him. Time will pass, that’s for sure, but I have a feeling that the loss is an inconsolable one.

  5. Sid Dunnebacke says:

    Oh Munira, I’m so sorry to hear of Hasan. One should not have to endure the loss of a younger relative. While you are at the moment wondering, I am certain that time is indeed a healer. You will get there – and in the meantime, don’t be afraid to grieve, no matter what form it takes.

    I, too, find myself very much withdrawn of late, and like you simply want to be quiet. It’s a comfortable place for me; I hope you can draw comfort from your quietude. Quietness. Not really sure what word to use, as I’m not really even sure if those are words…

    I will send good, healthy, comfortable vibes out into the universe for Minnie. May her condition not be serious and may she recover quickly.

    And may your terrible dreams cease now!

    1. Munira says:

      Good to hear from you Sid, you’ve been quiet for a long time on all fronts, but I understand completely. Glad it is a comfy place. Quietude sounds like a perfectly plausible word to me.
      I think time is quite simply, time. Right now I see time as an enemy, distancing us from the point when Hasan was alive and around. His death is a complete mystery, but there is no choice but to accept it. I don’t know where the peace will come from, especially for his parents and his sister. I don’t see them reaching a place of consolation. Every morning my sister wakes up and she just wants him back. Her grief is a visceral, maternal thing. She has an urge to dig him up and look at him again, the need to hug him again is unbearable. It all feels like a cruel joke and it won’t stop.
      So I grieve for my sister, and I think she will grieve forever, it is just that kind of loss…

      As for Minnie, I took her to the vet and it is probably an inflammation for which she has received an antibiotic shot. Follow up in two days πŸ™‚

      Don’t disappear now! Hope all is well with you and your lovelies.

  6. satsumaart says:

    Hugs to you, and love, and good thoughts to your kitty, and may you have as much cleaning to do as you like, and as few people around to talk at you! Or whatever else you find holding you up at the moment. ❀ Thinking of you ever.

    1. Munira says:

      Hugs and love right back at you, it is lovely to get regular updates on the pregnancy front πŸ™‚ I love how they make me think of my pregnancy all those years ago!

      And then….sigh…I remember Fatu being pregnant with Hasan. I remember her in labour, I remember Hasan’s babyhood, I remember him as a toddler….everything.

      Kitty has duly been taken to the vet and given an antibiotic shot and she should be fine soon πŸ™‚ She plays a big part in holding me up ❀

  7. This is such a sad thing. I feel for you, Mun, and all your family who are feeling this loss right now. May your strengths return. I’m sure none of you will forget. As you can see from the comments, there are people across the world who are supporting you all with their good wishes and thoughts.

    1. Munira says:

      It’s a strange revelation Al, but I think the strength never left us. Our whole family got into a huddle and simply held each other up through this painful time, and we continue to do so. Hasan did this for us. He has made sure we will never ever forget him. As I mentioned in one of my replies to the comments above, I didn’t live with him and didn’t get to see him frequently, but his absence leaves a huge void in their household. His grandparents really doted on him, their only grandson, and such a good kid he was. Too good perhaps, he would complain that he was brought up so well that he got picked on by the wilier boys. His teachers were nothing but praise for him. In fact, the school has decided to keep his chair with his name and his books on it, and they’ll promote him every year along with all his other mates.
      He’ll be missed forever, and that’s the truth.

  8. Arnaz says:

    Lots of love hugs and duas

    1. Munira says:

      Thank you Arnaz ❀

  9. Dear Munira, I am so sorry for your loss. Please know that I care and that you are in my thoughts. I’m so glad Minnie is going to be okay. I wish you all the things that can bring you comfort.

    1. Munira says:

      Dear Re, I am speechless to see you back in the blogosphere, it has been so long. So much life has happened, so much loss. So much angst to share with you! ❀

  10. Salim Ravani says:

    Hey Munira, I can completely understand and relate to your feelings as most if your feelings are the ones me and my wife are going thru at the moment as we lost our only son, Adnan 65 days back.. Adnan was 15 yr 7 month’s. . We are still in a daze and unable to accept and come to terms with this harsh reality.. time heals, they say but I doubt becoz some pains will never ease, some void will never fill and our life or even we as individuals will never be the same again even if we give ourselves an eternity of time.. can’t write even 1% of what we are going thru..

    1. Munira says:

      I am so very sorry to know about your loss…..so very sorry for you. What happened to him….?

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