Updated: Jun 24
| This is the 468th story of Our Life Logs |
To almost every girl in this world, her father is a role model, a star she looks up to. She thinks of him as her savior, her guide, a protector, and most importantly, the source of help and support on which she can rely on in the toughest of times.
But God changed up a few things in my case. To me, my father, my so-called “hero,” single-handedly ruined my life and my family, all over a personal dispute between him and his elder brother. What was I to do?
I was born in 1997 in Okara, Pakistan, a city whose only significance was that it was close to one of the biggest and most advanced cities of our country (that’s Lahore, just in case you were wondering). I grew up in a respected and wealthy family all because my father provided for us very well with his “working abroad in Italy,” as he would say. I remember the times when I, a little seven-year-old, would bounce happily the minute my daddy walked through our front door. I was none the wiser.
However, things soon crumbled. My father started drinking and many a time he would come home drunk late at night. That’s when I started to see his real side. But no matter what, I still loved him. That was until one day when he came home drunk and, being completely senseless, started beating my mother.
I was in the other room with my older sister and my younger brother when we heard the cries of our mother. We rushed to the scene and saw him beating her. I had never been more scared and confused. That night was a real nightmare for me. I had never imagined my father could do such a thing. Luckily, one of my uncles who lived near our house dropped by our house that night. He took my mother and my siblings and me away and saved us.
After that night, I never left my mother alone at home with him. I even used to get up at night just to make sure she was okay. Never again would I let that happen, and never again would I remain so helpless.
A few weeks had passed and we were all trying to forget that fearful night and heal ourselves. But just as one door closed…the real Pandora’s box burst open.
It was just before bedtime when I was playing with my siblings that, out of the blue, we started to hear shouting outside of our house.e were trying to figure out what was happening that suddenly people started throwing rocks and whatnot at our home, breaking our windows and damaging our sweet haven.
Our mother quickly rushed us to our bedrooms and picked up the phone to call the police. As soon as she began to dial, we could already hear the sirens of police cars. After the officers entered our home and searched every inch of it, they asked our mother where she thought her husband was. She simply replied that he was “at work.” The police told us that we couldn’t live there any longer because it was unsafe for us. That’s when we learned what his “work” truly was.
Our father was a drug dealer in Italy. Before that night, he had gone out on a killing spree. He took the lives of an entire family for reasons only my runaway father and the dearly departed know. We had no one to help as all of our relatives ran to save their lives too.
That night, I saw my mother as a new woman. She was strong in her weakness; she was courageous in her doubt. The only thing that seemed to matter to her from that point on was that she would save her beloved children. She took us in a car and went to my aunt’s house. My aunt gave us shelter for the time being, but we ran from city to city to hide from the families and friends of those who were killed by my father. We had no choice but to hide from his crimes, lest we get swept away. My father had no plans on coming back because his entire life and business was at stake.
Even in the dawn of her strength, I knew it was not easy for my mother. I heard my mother crying every night. Maybe she never knew that I was listening because she thought we were sleeping, but I always did.
A few months after we had fled for our childhood home, my mother got sick. Within a week, she got so weak that one night she fainted while talking to us. I was so worried to see my mother like that. She was all we had left. My uncles took her to the hospital. We were so scared. I didn’t even sleep that whole night. The next morning when we went to visit her, everybody started crying. She was diagnosed with cancer.
November 6, 2005. The day I cannot forget and maybe the worst day of my life. I lost my whole world that day. Everything just finished at once.
Because of the share in our parent’s property, my siblings and I sent to different relatives; sometimes we got to stay in the same home, and other times we were separated. In every new house, my siblings and I were abused. were physically abused too but whenever we tried to tell anyone about it, the adults would simply brush it off by saying, “You both have dirty minds.”
Whenever I was disheartened by the cruelty of my relatives, I climb up to the roof and looked to the sky with wet eyes. Each time, a voice from my heart would always console me. I prayed, saying that only God would help us survive in this world. And I believe that he surely did!
After my mother, my school life was a total disaster. My younger brother because he was so much attached to our mother, so I was the one to take her place. I did my best to take care of him—as much an eight-year-old girl can take care of her five-year-old brother. It was really difficult for me to raise him as a gentleman because every next person would say that he was only going to become the reflection of our father when he grew up. I had to lie to my classmates, saying that my dad had also died just to protect our fake dignity and to alleviate the suspicious glares.
But soon, my cousins started telling everyone in the school that we were the children of a murderer. Then came the gossip and teasing. My sister was driven to tears from the isolation and the taunts. To her, they said, “You are the daughter of a murderer, you are also a murderer.”
There were times when I got angry and went to those girls just to fight with them but deep inside, I was also ashamed. I also wanted someone to fight for me, but no one was there except for Allah.
Not only the others, but even our own relatives also turned against us. They called us “bad blood,” “curses,” and “children of a criminal.” They took our home, our property, my father’s cars, my mother’s gold jewelry, and everything we owned. They said they were “safekeeping” all of these things until we became “mature enough.” But that never was really the case. The reason why they even let us stay in their house was my grandfather. He had named his property on my brother’s name and some of it on us sisters’ names.
• • •
I had high goals, even under the given circumstances. I wanted to study and build a home (my home from where no one else could rule. So, I did the only thing I could do to break free. I opposed my family. I told them that I would not go through with whom they were forcing me to marry, and they threw me out from their home. My sister came with me but, since my brother was only 15 years old, he stayed with them. Again, we were homeless.
But around that time, good things began to happen. In 2015, my father’s elder brother took me to their home and my sister got admission in a university in another city and she moved there, and somehow, she survived. After hard work in school, when I turned 18, I received admission with a full scholarship to the best IT university in Pakistan.
Everything was getting better but life had yet another surprise for me. My uncle, in whose house we were living, got cancer too and died within a year. I lost my mental state completely and, consequently, my scholarship. was the only supporter of me in the whole world at that time. Now he was gone too. After my uncle’s death, everything changed.
I continued living with my uncle’s family, but their indifference and hostility crept in. I was silenced and my wings were clipped. I tried taking my own life many times to rid myself of all the heartbreak. Somehow, I survived my attempts, thankfully so. To experience death’s foyer will make you realize many things.
I had come to learn that this world is so materialistic and status-seeking. But when we part from the world, we take none of these. The things we leave behind will fade in time; only our good deeds will remain.
After this time in my life, I turned completely to God. I had faith in God, and in myself, and I believed that if one does good to themselves and to others, sooner or later, good things will happen. My friends from university had helped me to pay my dues. And I, on the other hand, have also started earning from the classes I teach back home. My sister will be completing her degree soon and my brother started studying for his Bachelor’s of Law.
And once again, after a long time, my life seems to be a little better. I have learned that a person can go through the toughest of times, only if they don’t give up on themselves. Optimism is the faith that leads to achievement. Everything is again getting better from before. I still sometimes wish my father would come back one day and ask everyone how they treated us, but I know that kind of thinking is stupid. I have got to live for myself, live my dreams and help my siblings live theirs, and show this world that we aren’t the reflections of our father, rather, the products of our own hard work and struggles…
This is the story of Zoya
Zoya grew up in a wealthy family, only to have it all crumble when her father was uncovered as a known criminal. For years, Zoya and her siblings bounced from one tragedy to another. It broke Zoya, but in time she found strength to overcome and be made new. Zoya is currently living in Pakistan and studying at a nearby university. She is in her third year of Bachelor’s degree in IT. She has a large social circle who supports her in every difficult situation and never lets her fall. Recently she got engaged and now she is letting people know that they really matter. She is moving forward to live and living it on her own standards.
This story first touched our hearts on November 25, 2019.
| Writer: Zaid Mubbasher | Editor: Colleen Walker |