HEART TO HEART
Growing up as an army brat, I’ve lived all over the country, moving from city to city, wherever Abu ji would be posted. The word “home” did not mean permanency. Home changed every few years.
Karachi was one of those homes - a city which gripped us all with its limitlessness. So, when Abu ji finally finished his service, Karachi was where we chose to settle.
Home to me, then, was this beautiful double-storey house with a tiny front lawn. Home to me was my bed just beside the window. Home to me was Abu ji and all his stories; from his roots as a village boy who had crazy adventures to an army recruit who was beaten into shape.
This was home. My heart was here. Home was beautiful.
Everything felt complete.
In 2018, I was in the final year of my Pharm-D studies, my younger sister was on her way to becoming a dentist, and my older sister was to get married the following year. Home was beautiful.
But beauty always fades, does it not?
This was the year we learned our father had been diagnosed with stage four terminal cancer. That was enough to bring the world crashing down on all of us. Home was broken.
Abu’s wish was to move closer to our roots, move to Peshawar and be closer to our family. We obliged.
Home felt lost.
December of 2018, we packed all that we owned and left our home of eight years in Karachi to move to Peshawar.
The move was painful. I had built memories, friendships and learned life lessons in that wonderful city, in our beautiful home. In December of that year, I closed the gates of that house for the last time.
Home was lost.
With our ailing father, we moved into a new double storey house in Peshawar. New four walls that we were to call home.
I watched my strong army man, my Abu ji, deteriorate into a small, frail figure that could no longer stand without support. I watched my talkative, lively father turn into an anxiety ridden patient. The four walls were suffocating.
Home was nowhere in sight.
January 1, 2019, midnight: I sat in my father’s room, praying, let this be the year we find our miracle, let this be the year we find hope again, let this be the year we find happiness once more. As fireworks shot up into the night sky, I cried myself to sleep again.
I could not find home.
Two months later, everything fell apart completely.
We bid farewell to our loving father, forever.
It dawned on us that we were in an entirely new city without the protective shadow of Abu ji. We realized no one could hide us from the cruel outside world anymore. We realized the four walls could not protect us. My heart was in pieces.
Home was broken.
January 2020, I did it, Abu ji. You would have been proud. I got a job as a pharmacist. Your youngest daughter is now a dentist. Your oldest daughter is happily married.
But you’re not here. This is not home.
I have spent a year between these four walls, yet when I think of home, I see myself peeping out the window in our old home, walking in the tiny garden and enjoying the serenity, sitting in front of Abu ji and laughing at his old tales.
The memories are haunting. I miss home.
I miss you, Abu ji.
They say home is where the heart is, and my heart craves to find home once more. I lost home. I lost you, Abu ji. Nothing I can say or type can fill the void, nothing can make you come back and take me home once more.
Home is forever lost.