Updated: Jun 26, 2020
| This is the 383rd story of Our Life Logs |
It’s not wrong to believe that life is unfair and difficult. But the thing is, that’s how it is for everyone.
My name is Mustafa Najam and I was born in Lahore, Pakistan, to Fatima Bano and Nasrullah Wazir back in 1985. I was named after my great-grandfather who was one of the many influential personalities in India before the partition of India and Pakistan. Rumor has it that he was a very good-looking and brave man full of valor who remained steadfast for the establishment of Pakistan. I call it a rumor because none of his admiring qualities had traveled into our genes. Also, considering what his status was back in Hindustan, ours is nothing.
My father used to work in a sugar mill in Lahore, my mother was a housewife, and I was their mischievous child who loathed going to school. My father, though, wanted me to attain the best possible education. He didn’t make much money, but as they say, when there’s a will there’s a way. I knew what it took for him to make that money and then save it to better my future. He wanted me to get into politics just like my great-grandfather, perhaps to make us great again. So, for the sake of his heart, I never showed how much I hated going to school.
Instead, I hung on every word my father spoke. While he was not formally educated, his teachings and his lessons were like gold in a salt mine. Sundays were the days when he would sit on his favorite sofa with a cup of tea in his hands and lecture me about different things. Mostly and specifically about life and morals. I used to enjoy them and would jot them down on a notepad. That was probably the only thing I was good at. At least, it was the only thing I would show enthusiasm for.
The tables turned and fate changed when my father passed away in an accident in the sugar mill. I was just 14 years old the day it happened. He had left for work on a Saturday morning when he promised me and my mother a joyful evening together.
That day, I made many plans for what the three of us might do together. Mom would prepare the food, of course, but I took it upon myself to make lists of activities. However, when our clocks struck 4 PM, there was no sign from my father. Eventually, we received a call from his office, informing us of his death. I didn’t know I could ever feel so broken.
For many months after my father’s death, my mother moved like a body without a soul. For that matter, she didn’t even cry at my father’s funeral. I didn’t understand at the time.
My father used to say that happiness and sorrow walk side by side, some days are good and some are bad. He said that if you smile at life, one day it will smile back at you and you never know things might get a lot easier. He believed that if there weren’t any bad times, we humans would never be thankful and appreciate the good times. Although this concept didn’t settle my heart, I tried hard to abide by it. With my mother so fragile, I had no other choice.
Being so young and lacking experience, I had nowhere to go and had absolutely no idea what to do. People are not always very nice and helpful, and unfortunately, this can include relatives at times. No one, even my aunts and uncles, volunteered their help, and I didn’t beg. It hurts when I think about it, but, sometimes, that’s life. And being my father’s son, I didn’t believe in spreading hands or falling on my knees for anything. My father used to quote an old saying, “The world is made up of salt,” meaning, people are callous and their hearts are made of stone.
I barely completed high school with the money that my father had saved for my education. While I was a student, my mother sold the jewelry she had to pay for our house and expenses, but, obviously, they wouldn’t last us forever. So, I started looking for jobs as soon as I finished school. Our life was never the same, but we did not let sadness rule us for long. For as difficult as it is to accept, the dead does not excuse the living. I wanted to find a good job and look after my mother who had still not recovered from the shock but was doing alright anyway.
I had decided that I would deal with every matter like my father did, with a calm smile on his face. Being worried for something won’t make the worry go away.
I managed to get a job as a daytime security guard by the time I turned 20. It didn’t pay much and was pretty hectic in itself but it was a ray of sunshine in a very dark land. In that moment, and in those circumstances, a job was the only thing I needed. The hours were flexible and I was able to run home to my mother to look after her.
Meanwhile, my mother wanted me to marry one of my cousins, Raabea, who lived in Multan. She was my mother’s niece and was around four years younger than me. I fell for her the moment I saw her picture. She had the loveliest face that I had ever seen. At that time, I had no idea if she would say yes to me, but my heart really wanted her to. A few days later, my aunt called and told us that Raabea had agreed.
They visited us not very long after, and Raabea and I finally got to talk and know each other. The last time I had seen her was when we were kids, though I had no idea that she would grow up to be so charming and beautiful. Her father did not have much and his ailing condition did not allow him to do much, so we decided to keep the wedding very simple. A year later in 2006, we got married in a simple, elegant fashion and said hello to our new life.
With Raabea around, life seemed so short. I fell in love with her every day. Her support was immense and her cooperation was applaudable. Even with my busy schedule, she never spoke a bitter word and she looked after my mother as if she were her own.
For the first time in years, life was perfect and beautiful once more. We were about to welcome our first baby, and I was at the top of the world. I thought how happy would my father be if he were alive.
We welcomed our daughter on December 3, 2011. That day still gives me shivers down my spine. I was so restless while Raabea was in the delivery room. I was worried for her and my child when after 10 hours of labor, the doctor came in and told me we had a baby girl. Right away, I named her Sara, as my father always used to say that if he had a daughter, her name would have been Sara. My baby and my wife both were fine and I could not have been happier. Most of all, I understood my father’s desire for my education and success. Looking at Sara’s perfect swollen face, I decided to give her each and everything in this world, no matter what.
Well, it seemed like life wasn’t done with me yet. When Sara was about eight months old, my mother insisted that something was wrong with our daughter’s eyes. It was true that her eyes were a bit gray, and that she did not give any eye contact, but she was our first child and we were inexperienced. Surely this was normal. We did not pay much attention to it. But upon my mother’s persistence, we took Sara to be examined by a doctor in 2012.
We found out that Sara had been blind since birth. This news sucked the life out of me. While Raabea burst in tears and I tried to control my agony, we left the clinic with the news that Sara’s blindness was incurable.
I don’t even have the words to explain what I went through and what I go through every single day. I cursed myself and my life for months, no, years, as if it was my fault. I just could not bear the thought of my daughter being that way. We were disappointed and shattered and decided to not have any more kids.
But then, life goes on, and so did mine. Sara was blind but she was the cutest little kid I had ever seen. We enjoyed raising her up and never considered her handicap to make her any less special. Together, we learned to see the world with our ears and our hands. We managed to make our world beautiful again, and, in fact, it was beautiful in a new way.
Life was still not done with us yet. My father was right all along, it keeps going on and you just have to bear with it.
My wife was diagnosed with kidney stones in 2018. Every day, she lay in excruciating pain. After taking her to a doctor, the tests confirmed that she had stones and needed surgery. Her body was so fragile, and the operation was too expensive for our family. Still, the two of us had no other option but to continue, to proceed with the surgery and come up with the money, no matter what.
Again, I grieved, but to be honest, I was mostly overwhelmed and exhausted with life treating me this way. In my darkest moments, I resolved to remain strong and to smile at life. I could not bear the thought of losing my Raabea and, for my daughter’s sake, I would not allow grief to take over my soul.
While I started arranging for the money, Raabea exercised her body in order to make it strong for the surgery. It was difficult to run a house where you have a sick wife, a sick mother, and an 8-year-old daughter who’s blind. Each day is a reminder that you have no control.
But that said, our attitude remains positive. In our pain, we have hope for a beautiful life, and we work as if it is sure to come true. When Raabea went to the doctor a few months ago, the doctors saw progress in her health. I, on the other hand, have managed to save enough money for her surgery. Our family looks forward to the day when Raabea gets the surgery and can recover. Through it all, we will smile and learn to make our world happy.
Life has not been the way as I imagined it when I was a kid, but then again, I’ve seen people smile through worse. Thankfully, my father taught me that crying cannot solve problems. I believe that one day I will be blessed for my approach and patience. That’s how it goes.
This is the story of Mustafa Najam
Mustafa’s father taught him that life was full of good and bad days and that he must always stay positive. After Mustafa’s father died in a work-related accident, Mustafa held his family together by abiding by his father’s lessons. Later in life, Mustafa and his wife, Raabea, had a child who was born blind. Together, they continued living in hope, even when Raabea was diagnosed with a kidney disease.
Mustafa is trying to arrange money for his wife’s care after surgery and has been pretty much successful in doing that. He worked double shifts and took some loans to save the money he needed. He can’t wait for his wife to get better. He believes that being blind is not an obstacle for his daughter, she can still achieve whatever she wants to. He is a father who will always support her. He wants her to get the best education and will do all that he can for that.
This story first touched our hearts on July 2, 2019.
| Writer: Noor Pasha | Editor: Colleen Walker |