There are moments in life when sadness and sorrow are mixed with joy and jubilation-when it becomes virtually impossible to eradicate sadness and only enjoy the fun and glamour of the occasion. These are moments when the life’s most precious ‘possession’, about to leave, strikes one’s heavy heart with its devastating and shattering blow with force and ferocity. One such moment is a daughter’s marriage.
I vividly remember when my daughter got married and was about to leave Karachi, the entire spectrum of her eventful life flashed suddenly across my mind during her “rukh sati“.
Going down memory lane, how happy my wife and I were when my daughter was born, I simply cannot forget the memorable and jubilant moment when the nurse called me at home to announce the birth of our baby. It was past midnight when I dashed in my flashy car to the maternity clinic; the peace and tranquillity of the cool and crisp atmosphere matched perfectly with the peace within my joyful heart.
It was an ecstatic moment as I stared proudly at her tiny, pink face with eyes firmly closed. At that moment, who would have thought that these solidly shut eyes, would one day open wide with all their bending beauty and tears when she would depart for her husband’s home? Even at this beautiful occasion of her birth, one ‘son-addict’ reminded me that a daughter, after all, is,” someone else’s wealth” and consoled me by saying that next time, Inshallah, I will be blessed with a son!
As I rested in my bed gloomily during my daughter’s “rukh sati”, my thoughts travelled in retrospect a long distance, when my wife and I had to face the initial; teething troubles together-the sleepless nights, the regular interruption in the peaceful atmosphere caused by the cacophony of the baby’s yelling; which, nevertheless, was sweet and soothing music to us.
My nostalgic memories reminded me of the ear-splitting crying, I had to patiently endure when dropping her at the nursery for the first few days! What a ‘painful nuisance’ it seemed to me then; but certainly not as painful and agonising as I was patiently enduring now, as I stared at her quietly sitting engrossed in her sorrowful thoughts. Why must she leave?
We had named her Zeenat, (luminous decoration) and she was truly our home’s Zeenat. Many a times, she would transform my dismal into joy with her jolly extroversion. She used to say, ‘Daddy, when I am with you, why are you so sad?” I reluctantly told her once that she would not be with me always, and one day she would become a beautiful bride and leave me. In her childish innocence, she would reply: “No daddy, I will never leave you.”
One fine morning, a boy from London, after completing his studies, came to Karachi and put up opposite our flat. Little did I realise then that this ‘ saintly-looking stranger’ would take away my daughter from me one day! He took a liking to my daughter and she reciprocated his sentiments. Soon, her formal engagement took place. On this occasion, I felt for the first time that my daughter wasn’t mine any longer and was a temporary guest at my home.
Then came the most important and auspicious occasion in my daughter’s life, and the saddest in mine…..her marriage. The dazzling multi-coloured lights outside my flat and in the lawn looked really colourful and beautiful; but the ‘light’ within me, which used to illuminate my life, was already extinguished with her departure.
I was completely oblivious, engrossed in my thoughts, to the fun and frolic going on in full swing in my flat. The ladies and gents in their colourful attire, all seemed blurred to my eyes full of tears. The glamour and gaiety around me seemed to distract my eyes glued as they were to my daughter a lively girl looking so sad.
With Zeenat’s marriage, a painful final chapter in my entire book of life came to its traumatic epilogue. The entire panorama of her prideful life flashed suddenly across my mind during her “rukh sati”. How I cuddled her as a baby, played with her as a child and enjoyed her jovial and extrovert company as a teenager – now the times we shared together would soon pale away and become painful nostalgic memories.
The final moment of extreme agony had yet to come when I went to the Cantt. Station to bid her a tearful and tormenting farewell. She was sobbing uncontrollably and I had to make efforts to keep her calm and composed. We waved to each other as the train slowly whisked out of sight.
This was certainly the most touching, moving and sad occasion in my life – my darling daughter’s departure. But then, I remembered the great sage Buddha’s sublime saying;
“The cause of human suffering is an obsessive attachment to the concept of ‘MY’ – ‘my health’; my comfort; my happiness; my son; my daughter. When they leave you one day, as they are bound to, suffering comes.
My innermost wish, with respect to my daughter, is that she to “make me proud”. And finally she does that with her amiable disposition in her new home, she will have not only repaid in an abundant measure but amply fulfilled her duty which a daughter in our society is supposed to perform – by sacrificing her comfort and happiness; and sometimes patiently enduring the trauma, just to make her home an abode of peace and tranquility; thereby fulfilling her parents’ most cherished desire
It was an extremely heartbreaking feeling as I sorrowfully returned home and stared at the now empty bed and cried my heart out. Only the sublime verse of Khalil Gibran that gave me some consolation and solace:
“Your children are not your children. They are the sons and daughters of Life’s longing for itself.
They come through you but not from you.
And though they are with you, yet they belong not to you.”
This story has been sent by Zeenat Iqbal written by her father Ahmed Jivanji.
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