Written By: Sidra Babar Khan
“What I Wish I Could Tell You Now”
Daughter of a martyred officer writes to her father!
Baba, the mere 4 years, 9 months and 23 days of my life I spent in your presence are something I will always cherish. My earliest memories are of you wearing your uniform, for no particular event but just you as a strong man in his soldier’s uniform. I have no idea how old I was at the time nor any perspective of what we were doing – just an image of you looking at me from above with a loving smile.
I have very vague memories of you Baba but I get very proud when people (to this very day) talk about what a fantastic man you were, how you made them laugh, and lent them an ear. You were always there for people when they needed help. Your generosity and selflessness is inspiring and unmatched. You’ve left people with a lot of good memories of you. It gives me a feeling of warmth to hear these things about you and inspires me to be the kind of daughter you’d be proud of.
Even though you left this world so early I wouldn't want anyone else to be my father, I wouldn't trade you for the world. I am so thankful to Allah that he made me your daughter and it makes me really happy when someone tells me I resemble you in some way. I am so thankful to you that even when you weren't around you made sure we had a steady source of income, I still remember how proud I felt when I used to see my mother’s pension book knowing you were still catering for our needs. Similarly whenever I fell sick and had to visit the CMH I felt so thankful to you every single time and even though you weren't around all those doctors in uniform made me feel at home. I am also very thankful for the army family you gave me, the other day we got to attend 78 PMA Long Course’s get together and all your coursemates welcomed us with an open heart, I saw a glimpse of you in them and they treated me with as much love as you would. It was really heartwarming to see them acknowledge us even after 20 years of your death.
I am also thankful for the amazing brother I have, even though younger than me he protects me as an elder and has been very responsible. Saif has almost completed his Engineering in Telecom, and takes pride in attributing himself to you as son of a Shaheed. I'm sure you are proud of him, too.
Above all, thank you for finding the strongest woman I’ve ever known to be your spouse and my mother. She turned out to be more than you could have ever wanted. She is strength, courage, and a light of patriotism. For years, I have watched her grow with me. At that time I didn't know it, but now I see that she has struggled a lot. She wanted only the best for me and my brother and has done an amazing job trying to fill in for you. She did whatever she could so that we would have it all. My mother played both roles of a mother and a father and I couldn't be more proud of her and I am sure you too would be very proud.
I count how long you’ve been gone in milestones, be it moving apartments, special occasions, birthdays, getting admissions or graduating; you have always been with me in my heart, being my guardian angel. You are and always have been with me at each step of my life’s journey.
I have heard that you were ecstatic when I first joined pre-school, you made sure I was having a good time and you even kept my first notebook with you. I really wanted to make you proud, and because of my love, respect and the strongest urge to be a source of pride for you I not only graduated with a Gold Medal in my Bachelors but also completed my Masters with the honor Magna Cum Laude and will soon receive a silver medal. My efforts are a tribute to your love and dedication to the country and I hope I can play my role for the betterment of my country as well, I hope I can be as strong, courageous, brave and as selfless as you were. Your love, honor, and integrity lives within me.
A very major event of my life is coming up Baba, I am getting married. I’ve found myself saying, “What would my Baba do?” with any wedding dilemmas. I wasn't ready for the questions from vendors: “Will your father be joining us? What is his vision for this? Will you want to schedule another meeting so your father can join?”. I’ve found myself yearning more than ever for you. There have been so many times during this process I’ve looked at Maa, and thought, “How is she going to survive this wedding without you?”
Even after going through many life events without you, it still doesn't get any easier. None of that pain feels the same as the pain not having you there on such a life-changing day and as my wedding draws closer, the reality sinks in just a little further. It is a very emotional time for me, and I find myself breaking down in tears more often than ever. My heart aches as I write this and I know going through my wedding day without my father will be the hardest thing I’ve ever done.
So many people, our friends and family have come forward to be the part of wedding planning and I am grateful to them beyond words. Our family has showered me with so much love, your unit, your coursemates, they have all gathered as if they were invited by you. And even though nothing can ever fill your void, I have found you along my side on every step, it is true when they say a Shaheed never dies because I have felt your blessings all along. You will be there with me and with all of us. I know how elated, proud, and excited you are that I am about to take this next step in life. The truth is, I’ve felt you during this whole process and I know you are here with me and will continue to go through life with me, just in a more special way. I have found comfort in knowing that you are still and will always be there for us in every step of the way.
Your death has made us a stronger family Baba. I now realize that my mother, I and my brother faced all the hardships with the courage that comes by being a part of Army soldier's family. Everyone who belongs to an army family would agree that even though it's a source of immense pride, it also involves sacrifices like relocations and absences. I am proud to be the daughter of a soldier.
Your daughter, Sidra.