The Posthumous Birthday

I thought I could never live without her. It was hard to imagine life in a world she didn’t exist. In my mind, such a world never existed. But fate is cruel; it brutally obliterates all that is beautiful and lovely. It destroys every promise without compassion and leaves behind what is only miserable and shameful.

Too often too many have died who should have lived, and those who should have died have lived on. One of life’s greatest ironies is the realization that you can’t live when you want to. Worse, the funny thing about death is that you can’t die when you want to. The heavens fall exactly when you want to live; and destiny waits and watches while you wish it to strike. Death doesn’t come looking for you the moment you confess to destiny in your heart, “I give up, you win”.

They say fortune favors the bold. How Alexander the Great must have felt about it at his death I don’t know for he died while he still wished to rule the world he conquered. But what is true courage? To concede defeat and wait for death to take you or to keep fighting till the very end? To continue to suffer while death crawls laughing at your plight?

I saw her clinging to dear old life, and fight for survival, for over two years. She was not bold or too courageous. She was dead scared of injections. The sight of them frightened her even when she was entering motherhood. But, day after day for 26 months I saw her braving unfathomable number of needles piercing her. It was not just an agonizingly painful sight, but a horrible surprise as well. I was unable to understand how she was mustering that courage and strength to keep up that sheer fight. I asked her a couple of times, “sweetheart, how are you doing this?” and she responded on both occasions;

“My dear husband, what other choice do you think I have? I am not doing this for you or for my own life, there is nothing I would like to live on for except I have to do this for our little boy, I want to see him grow up”.

But, life is a bitch; it abandons you right when you need it the most. Freak accidents, terminal diseases, and even bomb blasts – it is just too fragile to hope for anything good to last. Hope is a dangerously fickle emotion; it compounds pain when destiny strikes. And destiny strikes right when you seem too pleased exactly like your favorite drink; by the time it starts soothing you the glass is already empty.

She was already on a slippery slope for weeks, but 45 days before her last breath, she gave up. She refused to continue with any maintenance medication as her condition was never curable to begin with and she knew it. She confessed she couldn’t win that fight, she couldn’t even continue stealing moments from death to allow her to spend as much time with our boy as she wanted.

She turned her face away from the world she still wanted to live in despite her disgust of it. She turned away from visitors, switched off her cell phone, and barred her son entry in to her room trying to reduce the pain of leaving him behind. But death still didn’t come even when she confessed to God, “Please take my life now”. Death took its time, 45 days of it, strangling her every single second.

I still refused to concede defeat. I was not brave either, but I still didn’t believe I was defeated. 10 days before she died, she confided her last will to me and asked me to stop fighting and let her go. It was the first time in 26 months; I couldn’t hold back my tears in front of her. I still didn’t want to let her go. People were screaming at me to let her die. In the dark corners of my world, schemes were being made for my re-marriage.

I live in a society where loving your wife and being sensitive for her is a crime; because wives are lowly replaceable commodities. They must be treated as hardly better than disposable maids legally contracted for sex. There were many who, with their twisted morality and religiosity, failed to see why and how I loved her. They declined to recognize that she was my strength in worst phases of my life; she was my confidante, my soul mate, my Khadija. Just like the Prophet Muhammad‘s wife did for him, she accepted me and stood by me when everyone else doubted me and rejected me.

My supplies were cut, but I didn’t give in. I needed resources to continue fighting destiny, and I put the Pathan pride in my veins and my false ego aside, and I begged for money. I had a long list of volunteers ready to donate blood, I had doctors on the toes, and I had sufficient money coming in as donations for medication and hospitalization. It was right then when I thought I had all the weapons at the ready to protect her that destiny struck. At 29 years, 7 months and 5 days old, 2 days before our 8th anniversary, death finally decided to take her and end her plight.

In her short life, she embodied innocence, undying love, rock solid loyalty, unbelievable patience and kindness that melted hearts. She was beautiful, and she transformed me from a reckless angry young man to a man who loved.

I never thought her 30th birthday would be her first posthumous birthday and I would be here while she would celebrate it in her heavenly abode. She was almost 7 years younger than I am, I always imagined we would grow old together and I would die first like husbands normally do. But, as this twist of fate would have it, I know people continue to judge me for what I have done before and after her death. I did what I did for precisely the same reason my wife fought for over 26 months, and braved so much pain and so much misery.

No one fully knows my story, no one can understand how it was in those days, to fight destiny on one hand and social and familial mores on the other, but I want our son to know and understand this one day. With life and hopes as fragile as they are, I am not sure I will be around to tell him tales about his mother and how I loved her, and how I was willing to sacrifice my health, my wealth, my job, my peace of mind, and even my life for her.

I want him to understand that I wouldn’t have exhibited and written about my pain in past several months if I was completely sure I would survive to tell him all about it personally. I want him to know that even though people believe I have moved on, I crack jokes and laugh; his mother’s love would forever occupy my soul.

I would never betray her memory and I would never betray the one person she loved above everything else. I wish I could have said all that to her on the 2nd of March as her birthday present, but all I can say now is “happy 30th, my love, I hope you enjoy it in the heavens much more than you did on your last birthday here”.