It’s kind of strange really, the way memories become scattered within your home, within certain clothing, scents and letters. The fragments of memories of Papa are scattered amongst every aspect of our lives. My Papa was in my life for thirteen years and in those years, every Saturday we woke up and all made breakfast together, every eid we all dressed up and took pictures together, every movie night, every restaurant, every hug, every laugh with him has now become something which replays in my mind daily.
Back in May I woke up and remembered a memory that I hadn’t thought of in years and it reminded me how many moments there was with him that I haven’t thought about that will pop up in my head over the years. This one in particular was the feeling of pure excitement (borderline giddiness) that we all felt when we used to drive to Heathrow airport and wait for Papa to come back from Pakistan. Once we found the arrivals section, we all split up and made it our mission to squeeze into the closest spot (usually in between aunties and little kids) just to be the first one to spot Papa as he walked out. I woke up that day and thought about this memory and the pure excitement that we felt, our stomachs would be in knots and the pure relief when we saw him. He wouldn’t walk the full way through but instead open the nearest gate to hug us all.
Once that memory came to mind, I realised then that this is the exact feeling I want back. I want the feeling of pure excitement that he coming home, I want that long tight hug from him that we got whenever we saw him. We never had to ask for a hug, he would know in an instant the love that we needed in that exact moment and he gave it, no matter where we were (in front of guests, watching a film, eating, anywhere). He would seek us out in the room and we’d all want to be the one to sit right next to him, or on the floor near him so we could rest our heads on his knees. I want that feeling.
I want to be able to hug my Papa, I’ve often thought about what I’d say to him or any questions that I’d ask, but really I just want to hug him. The reality is that, when you think about where you were 10 years ago, the type of person you were, the aspirations you had, the vision you had of our lives, it’s completely different to where you are right now. My pain resides in the idea that my Papa knew me when I was 13 and now at 23, does he really know me? Is he watching over us all now and is he proud?
We won’t ever get these answers and through the past 10 years, I’ve gone through phases of anger but I feel like in the last 5 years I’ve gotten numb to it. Numb to the idea that we won’t get answers, that we won’t get a reason as to why this happened or why us.
Up till now, we’ve clung onto photos, stories, letters and presents from him. But we came across a video of him from a celebration party, it wasn’t even a minute-long video and it was crackly and we could barely hear his voice. But to see him in video-form, moving, smiling and laughing, it reminded me that he was real. I know that sounds crazy, but when your memories are replaying in your head, I began to think that the life I had when Papa was alive was almost something only accessible in my mind. Seeing him happy and healthy reminded me that he was a real person, he was so full of life and happy and care-free and that was my Papa. He was someone who had so much love in his heart that he shaped my whole life despite only being in it for 13 years.
I’m probably not making much sense and I’m crying as I try to find the words to explain the pain, but it is like a dull pain that you carry every day. It’s a heavy, dull pain that you feel within you and you can never escape it.
Today we will be spending the day, the 5 of us together sharing stories about Papa and reminiscing and I’d like to think that he is watching us and giving him the credit he deserves for providing us with the kind of love he gave us that still holds strong, 10 years on.