As I am sitting here to type this out, I have no idea how or what I am going to say which can reflect my exact feelings. I had not posted on the blog in a while and I had thought I would write when my “writers’ block” would get over.. little did I know what day what sort of time would I sit , with the worst writers block ever.. because you can not make poetic words and you can not make anything out of a broken heart. a truly broken heart full of regret. and loss. I am not even going to edit or proofread this, like I usually would have done in my writers’ mood , all set and checking if anything was short of perfection. because whatever I write, it would still not tell what has been lost..
Today is 17th December.
Happy Birthday to you I.S.K
I.S.K, the name coined for herself by Iqra.. Iqra Sajid Khan. a notable alumni of Department of Mass Communication, LCWU. I.S.K, the famous photographer who would always be seen crazily clicking pictures of anything and everything she liked. I.S.K , as I have known her. As we have all known her. I.S.K, the brave girl. and most of all, I.S.K, the winner.
I remember interacting with her for the first time a day before my grad convocation, I had heard of her and I kept looking for her for many weeks and perhaps months but somehow or the other I couldnt meet her. that day, as the rehearsal was taking place, I saw her, round woolen hat, glasses, and a camera in her hand , clicking pictures of all teachers and students. there were no outsiders or irrelevant people allowed to enter the auditorium that day. so i figured out. This must be the girl. Department authorities gave her the permission to provide coverage to the event. I walked upto her and introduced myself. she shook hands with me very excitedly and as we talked, I found out that she already knew me and she was also very glad to meet me like I was. “So you are the infamous I.S.K. I finally get to meet you.” and she was all full of smiles and said she also wanted to meet me too. she congratulated me for the Roll of Honor and I requested her to take my pictures for my big day.. because I wanted the best day of my life to be captured in pictures by I.S.K.
that was the beginning of my friendship and interaction with her. The next day despite all the hustle bustle and all the rush of the ceremony, she did keep up to her promise and in fact she was the one who came up to me when all of us excited fresh graduated were happily tossing our graduations caps in the air and the position holders and roll of honor receiving students were on the stage. there, she came and asked me to stand. she clicked the most memorable photograph of my life, the happiest glint in my eyes. I will never forget that moment.
I exchanged phone numbers with her and added her on social media. I was very much inspired by her untiring passion for photography. I was in those days, very much attracted towards taking pictures, specifically of nature, flowers and moonlit scenarios etc. I would often post pictures taken by me and garner a lot of ‘likes’ and comments etc. But I remember I would say to her I wanted to learn from her and she was an inspiration for me. whenever she would comment on any of my photographs and appreciate it, i would feel honored and i remember when i expressed the same to her, she would always answer very humbly and very nicely “ap sharminda kar rahi hein, mei ap se choti hun.”
You were younger than me. But then why were you in such a hurry? 😥
I always thought there would be more time. I would reconnect and talk to you. You promised me countless photography trips of flowers, cultural events, exhibitions. I dont think I would ever be able to muster enough courage to go alone myself..
I remember one moment with her which stands out of all my memories. Not only with her, but it literally does stand out. in her simple words, I realized a few moments later, there was a huge life lesson.. We were at this park, to picture flower exhibition for the first time. she took me along with her bunch of friends. Little did I know it would prove to be last as well..
I was very reluctant when I saw huge honeybees floating near all the beautiful flowers and i kept saying to her how scared I was.. at first she didn’t answer that but when my whining didnt stop, she stopped midway of taking pictures, turned around, took one look at the bee sitting at the flower I was trying to take picture of – and said “hira baji, uss ke samnay uska junoon hai, wo APki taraf kiun dhyan de gi?”
These words, I will never be able to forget. Never. They struck me like lightening. for a few moments , i stood dumbfounded and quiet. and then they sank in. I didnt utter a single expression of being scared of the bees for the rest of our trip… She taught me one of the biggest lessons of life with her one simple sentence.. when one is truly dedicated and passionate about something, they should not and they can not let themselves think about anything other than their passion.
I feel miserable at the fact that I could never thank her for this.
As time went by, I could not interact with her as regularly because my thesis made me busy, then one thing and another and so on. I would see her from time to time in the department, with her big gang of girls, both of us exchanging the occasional nods and waves.
When I finished my M.S. thesis, I interned in my department for few months and stayed there for a time period in which I grew very close to the graduation session 2010- 2014. Although Iqra wasnt the one who devised the name for me, but this session gave me the most unconditional love and respect on the whole. This session made me “Bajo”. This is the most, i repeat, THE most loving endearment anyone has ever used for me. I love that entitlement so dearly. and all those who gave me this name. As a session, as juniors, as my kids, my first ever batch of students. I spent so much time with those kids and I still hold them all so very special and close to my heart. whenever, wherever I see any of them achieving anything, it rings a happy bell in my heart and the feeling of how lovingly I own them.
I never thought i’d see one of my kids departing like this.. so early.. it was her time and her life was supposed to end this way. but these two lines can not make the grief and the shock go away or even decrease… no. i dont believe this.. it took me 2 days to finally accept the news.. and im still in shock.. im sitting here, typing robotically..with all memories if Iqra flashing in my mind. her mischievous jokes which would at times irk me and i would scold her too at times. i used to get very angry at her at times but she never misbehaved with me even when i expressed any agitation or annoyance. I can see her smile and that shining pair of eyes with countless dreams.. I am broken at the thought I could not say any goodbye.. I could not even meet her for once even when I heard she was suffering from cancer. because all I knew was, she was operated sometime in summer last year (2015) and then she was on chemotherapy.. her whatsapp display picture showed me her face with her head wrapped in scarf and despite her hair loss, the constant which remained there was the same shining pair of eyes and that bright smile.
She was a fighter. She wanted to live. I could see that.
The trouble is, I thought she would make it 😥 it literally never occurred to me that one day I would sit here and write the most heartbreaking birthday wish , i never imagined in my worst of dreams that she would be gone. there are some people in our life about whom we have never imagined such thing.. we have never imagined them going.. and it may sound strange that i’m saying this about a person who was fighting cancer for a while so my readers might think why didnt i imagine this? because i KNEW of her will to live, to conquer her dreams. If only i had known she would leave 😥 I would say one sorry to her for not meeting her earlier . i thought i would congratulate her on recovery whenever I would meet her. but this ‘whenever’ was not written for me 😥 I dont think i can get over the regret and the hollow in my heart for not stepping ahead and talking to her. i watched her silently, happy to see her struggle and bravery.
I didnt walk upto you because I thought i will see you again in person i will meet you 😥
i remember.. every year, from the very first day of December, she would get excited and happy about her birthday.. she would invite all of her Facebook friends on the event she would create “I.S.K. birthday” and on every 17th of December, she would invite all teachers in the department and bring a cake and celebrate her birthday very happily.. the thing which is tearing my heart apart in the worst way than anything else is, she would text everyone, including me, a week or so before her birthday to remind them.. I didnt have time last year I was very busy with my job and despite her text message reminder, I didnt wish her and I thought I would wish her this year and then call her up and speak to her about her health and progress but GOD 😥 why did I not call her the next day or the day after or so on 😥 😥 😥 😥
This year her reminder text didn’t come. uski jaga uske janay ka message aa gya 😥
I dont know what else can I say 😥
Happy Birthday Iqra betay 😥 and your Bajo is sorry 😥 for never walking upto you asking you and meeting you 😥 Im sorry 😥
Im really, Really sorry 😥 please forgive me. I know you will.. mere se kabhi ghussa nahi hoti thi 😥 im sorry.
Happy birthday again to you in heavens.
may her departed soul rest in peace. may each and every one of her sins or shortcomings be forgiven after her prolonged illness and struggle with her health. ameen
I have no courage left in me to write of what her family and her parents must be feeling. i’ll only say, they loved her so much and kept her so dear because she was always exceptional, always special. you guys kept her the best way. Allah ap sabko sabar de 😥
Farewell dear I.S.K. until I see you again.