Two weeks have gone by and I still cannot believe you are gone. One and a half-year ago, there were many things I wanted you to know; things I wished I had done differently and things I wished I had told you. Just a year ago, things were so very different. Just a month ago, although the doctors had been telling me otherwise, I didn’t want to believe you were going. I know you respected my eccentric nature and still loved me, but I never desired to be so alone as you have left me to be now. I didn’t want you to respect my weaknesses so much.
I want you to know how I miss calling you a “wifely nuisance!”. I don’t know if you miss that but I know you liked bugging me when I used to be in my “hujrah” (cloister/man cave). When your condition was diagnosed, this hujrah started haunting me, now I want you to know, this whole house and the whole world haunts me. I see you everywhere, not just in this room or your pictures in my laptop. I see you sitting on your favourite sofa in the TV lounge. I hear you giggling over the phone. I want to call out to people and your name keeps slipping out of my tongue instead. I find myself often talking to you as I drive. I always try to put up a brave face, and to keep my eyes thinking and smiling the way you liked them but I cannot help the emptiness that eats me within.
I have been alone for over two years now ever since I took you to the emergency ward of Doctors Hospital, Lahore. I thought those two years were tiring and haunting. But I want you to know those two years were nothing compared to these past two weeks. Even in those days, when you became increasingly fragile and weak, I could see and talk to you everyday. And when you almost stopped talking or responding to me you were still there, although in pain and suffering but you were there. But, now, this is far lonelier than I had known anything ever before.
I know how you loved my political activism and still hated how I kept myself buried in newspapers and books locked inside my hujrah. I remember how you rarely said you loved me very much and I always knew you did even when you were angry. I often wondered how you expressed without even saying a word, you not only respected me but you also tried to study and understand my beliefs. I also remember how you adopted most of them, even my political ideals, wherever you agreed and you mostly did. But, you still never completely liked me keeping you shut out for hours reading and writing about current affairs. And I never stopped liking how you used to get worried if I was okay, if I was hungry or if I needed tea. You used to text me every once in a while “kam suttay maaro!” (smoke less!). And it makes me smile how you still used to worry if I had enough cigarettes because you knew my mind would get stuck without them and I wouldn’t be able to come out of my hujrah sooner.
Ever since you were diagnosed, I became unable to think about politics or be involved at any level of political activism. Even in that condition, you insisted me to keep my academic interests in politics alive; to study political science at an advanced level. I want you to know I started my postgrad just to make you happy. I want you to know that I opted a topic at the core of political theory for my thesis just to make you proud. And I also want you to know, I find myself unable to carry on and to finish that thesis ever since you are gone.
I always imagined we would grow old together and I would be the one to die first. I always used to tell you that men have shorter lives, and wives live longer. You always replied, “who knows who would die first?” I never realised you really meant to, I didn’t want you to. I was older than you, I was a man, you should have waited. But I want you to know that I still don’t understand if you really had to, why did you have to go so soon?
Just days before you died, I sensed many times that there were many things you wanted to say. But people, and doctors and nurses would not just leave us alone. The night we finally found a few moments to talk, you were hardly able to speak and I could see there was so much in your eyes that you wanted to say but you only said so little. You told me you wanted to become a bird and to fly. You asked me to stay behind a while longer after you were buried and not to go away soon. Probably you wanted me to stay by your grave so you could say the things you couldn’t say earlier and let me do the same too.
I want you to know that there wasn’t any moment in my life before that I wanted to stop in a graveyard at night. I want you to know that people just grabbed me and brought me back home. It was only three days later that I could sneak out and come to the graveyard alone. I sat there for so long and tried talking to you but you didn’t respond. I think you became angry because I broke my promise. I want you to know that I am sorry and I really did want to stay by your grave a while longer but these people would not just leave us alone.
I want you to know that you were so right when you were alive, and you are still right in your death. People in the darker corners of my life were already nudging me to abandon you and move on while you were still alive and fighting the disease. There were some who were finding a forceful entry, and there were some who were asking me to pull the plug on you. You were also right that within days after your death, there would be whispers of replacing you. They are whispers still, and only a few would dare utter them within an earshot of me. I want you to know that you are irreplaceable.
They may try but I want you to know that the damage to my heart and my soul is too deep to heal. The vacuum you have left within me cannot be sealed. The true colours of life I have seen cannot be submerged again in my vision. I cannot ignore or forget the realities of this temporal life that I have understood, the fragility of human desire and the dispensability of human free will or prayer. There is only one great reality in this life; that it is a mere respite before the heavens fall and the world as we know it perish into mortality and oblivion.
I want you to know that I was always scared of seeing people who have gone from this world except one I always desired to see and you know who but I never saw him too. I always admired people who were brave and who could dream of their loved ones after they have died. You know I rarely dream, and I don’t know if you’d ever visit me in my dream. The only dreams I ever had were day dreams, and you knew all of them.
You knew what I dreamt of whenever I closed my eyes ever since you had cancer; finding a peaceful place where worries, pain or sickness would never hurt you. I thought you believed in my day dreams and I don’t know why you decided to go on and find that place alone. I know what I am and I want you to know that the worst fear I have in your passing is that I will probably never see you again. I want you to know that I want to see you again. And I want you to know that I will never stop wanting to hear you again just like the day we had our Nikah and you texted me immediately after the ceremony, “hi husband!”.
I want you to know that I want to say “hey wife!” again.