May 23, 2012, was life altering for me and my children. It was surreal and hard to believe that the father of my children had left us for the eternal abode. My five-year-old daughter and three-year-old son were unable to comprehend what had happened. Words often do not resonate as we suffer the loss of a loved one. It only takes a moment for a family to lose someone, but its aftermath lasts a lifetime. My experience is somewhat similar. When Zahid embraced shahadat my heart kept on asking my mind, how I would look after the kids alone. One thing that I can guarantee you is that nothing can ever prepare you to deal with the pain and loss, when your significant other passes away.
I will not lie when I tell you that the shock and trauma after my husband’s shahadat were debilitating. Zahid embraced shahadat after his helicopter crashed into Chenab River near Wazirabad. Our trauma was multiplied manifold because his body was missing for 71 days. My house was flooded with family and friends who came from near and far for dua, wrapping my children in warm hugs, offering condolences and reminiscing about Zahid Shaheed.
My son Rayyan was very close to his baba. Zahid Shaheed used to call him Makhnoo. I remember that people used to come to our house and they cried while remembering Zahid Shaheed. The cries frightened Rayyan so much that he used to hide under the bed. He also stopped talking after his baba embraced shahadat. Coping with Zahid’s shahadat was difficult for all of us, especially the children.
Soon, I realized that this was not how my husband envisioned our lives to be. I wanted to follow Zahid’s example and become an inspiration for my children. I fully understood that playing both roles of a father and a mother was a monumental challenge but the following Ayat from the Holy Qur’an became my driving force to accept reality and perform the task ahead with strength and determination.
“There is nothing for man except what he strives for.” (39:53)
Therefore, I placed my trust in Allah (SWT) because I believed that He alone can ward off the harms of this world, provide sustenance and to ease the challenges that I was about to face. There is no doubt that Allah (SWT) instilled strength in me to look after my children in the best way that I possibly could.
I mustered all the courage I had in me and started working so that I could look after my children. I started teaching at Lahore Grammar School and the best part was that I used to go with my kids every day. I remember that I used to sit on the school bench every day after school and watched my children slowly return to normal life, one day at a time. They also started swimming. Rayyan, after a year, started talking again. I still remember, for two years I used to tell them that baba would come back; I thought I could delay the truth until they were old enough to understand the reality of life and death. My daughter often tells me that she sees baba in her dreams and this has strengthened my faith that a shaheed never dies.
Nurturing children as a single parent is never easy. Managing a house and caring for my children on my own, being the sole provider, keeping up with children’s activities and managing grief is overwhelming, but I still try my best. My children have always motivated me and they are my greatest support system. Healing happens more quickly with support and I believe that without them I would not have been able to cope with Zahid’s shahadat. Some days are tough but Tawakkul has helped me heal. Zahid Shaheed used to say, “If Allah gives me shahadat then you and my kids will be in Allah’s protection.”
Allah has indeed protected us and relieved us from unnecessary anxiety and worry from many challenges of this life. HH
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