Death is inevitable I knew but that it could be so cruel, I had never realised earlier. The events that took place that morning are still fresh in my mind. How can one forget being ripped apart in numerous pieces? What is the compensation for one’s heart being torn with grief? What gives courage to someone when the most beloved person in the world, leaves one suddenly? How does one describe the heart-wrenching reality that brings one down on all fours, and humbles one in front of their Creator? subhanAllah
It was the morning of May 26th 2001, probably the darkest morning of my life. I had reached Lahore a day earlier with my two kids Saad and Zayd, aged 3 years 8 months and 3 months respectively. It was the first time ever that I was traveling without my husband Asif, who had reached Lahore a day ahead of us for his work. Being a teacher at a school, I couldn’t leave before Friday, which was our last working day. Saad had asked me in the plane whether we were going to Allah’s house, and I had told him not to talk like this, and that we were going to meet his Uncle (Dad’s brother) and his family.
Saad was very excited to meet his cousins, and played all evening with them. He didn’t want to sleep with us that night, because he did not want to leave his cousins. After a while, Saad came back to our room to sleep with us. That night was unusual. I was very tired because of the end of year school work and travelling alone with kids but couldn’t sleep well. Stranger still, neither Asif nor Zayd had a sound sleep while Saad was fast asleep and looked relaxed.
In the morning, I took Saad to the washroom. I thought he would go back to sleep but he saw his cousin Usman, who must have been 11 years old at that time and went out to play with him in the garage. After about ten minutes, Saad rushed into the house and told me he wanted to use the toilet again. His stomach had been upset since the last evening, when we flew to Lahore. I remember vividly, that I had called my sister-in-law who was my next door neighbor, to ask if she had medicine for diarrhea, before leaving for the airport. She sent me the medicine and I sent it back to her, after giving a dose to Saad. She called me and insisted that I should keep it as it would come in handy during the journey. I told her she might need it for her son and that I would buy some in Lahore if I needed it.
Saad’s diarrhea seemed to persist, so I asked Bhabi (my sister-in-law) to give him some medicine. Since her kids were older, she didn’t have any syrup at home. She crushed half a tablet of intestopan, mixed it with honey and gave it to Saad but not liking the taste, he spat it out. He ran outside to resume his role play as the driver, in Usman’s car, which was his favorite game.
Meanwhile, Bhabi and I were chalking out a plan for the kids. We planned to take them to the zoo in the evening and to Suzu Water Park the following day. After around half an hour, Saad came out of the car and wanted to use the washroom again. I went with him and then asked Bhabi to give him some more syrup. While I was putting on his shorts, Saad said, “Mama, promise me that you will give me the medicine!” I reassured him, “Yes, I promise my dear, I will give it to you myself.” That was my last conversation with my son. To this day, I can hear that innocent voice echo in my ears.
Bhabi called Usman, gave him the money and asked him to get the medication from the pharmacy which was just opposite their house. I expressed my concern over sending Usman, because I knew that Saad would run after him. Bhabi assured me that it was a small distance from the house and that Usman was used to going there.
The kids ran out. Within minutes, we heard a screech outside the house. It was a sound that I can still remember. I shouted to Asif, “’May Allah have mercy on us, the kids went out”. Asif ran out to see what had happened, while someone banged on our gate saying, “Both the kids have been hit.” I handed Zayd over to the maid and ran out as fast as I could, shouting and crying “Where is my child?” There were people on the road, guiding me to the emergency at the hospital. While rushing, I cast one glance at the driver who had hit the kids who was now standing with his hands on his head. Bhabi was racing after me.
The sight that I saw in the emergency room was enough to prepare me for the worst. Usman lay on the bed, with blood oozing out of his wounds, yet nobody was attending to him. The entire team of doctors and nurses surrounded Saad’s bed and were working on him. Saad was not bleeding. Not a single scratch or obvious wound was on his body subhanAllah but they had put an oxygen mask on his face and were trying to revive him through cardiac massage. Asif stood right beside him with worry in his eyes and pain on his face. Not seeing my son breathe, I started screaming and begging aloud, “Allah please don’t do this to me, please don’t take away Saad, please Allah” The doctors sent me outside in the corridor so they could concentrate on Saad’s revival.
Bhabi asked me to pray quietly and consoled me by saying that Saad was only in shock. However, I wasn’t convinced. In a little while Asif came out and told me to be patient. I looked at him in disbelief. He said again with great difficulty, “Just have patience.” And I was lost in the echo of my own words: “Inna lillaahi wa Inna Ilayhi Raajioon”.
Usman told us later that Saad had run after some flowers that he saw across the road when he had let go of his hand to pay for the medicine. Allah-O-Akbar Kabeera, who showed Saad flowers, where there were only bushes. Usman had run after him and grabbed him, then the car had come at top speed and hit Usman mercilessly, resulting in the multiple fractures that he suffered. The impact was so forceful that Saad flew out of Usman’s hands high up in the air, landed flat on his back and died instantly. The driver of the car was crying badly and asked for forgiveness. Police took him in to custody but my husband and I told them to release him. He obviously didn’t have any deliberate intention of harming our children but at a hospital’s junction, he was driving really fast.
It took me weeks to be able to absorb what had happened. The feelings that followed were natural – shock, disbelief, distress, disappointment, denial, sympathy, self-pity, anger, frustration and the like. Naturally, Saad was my bundle of joy. His smile could put spontaneous laughter on my face and his tears would deeply sadden me. His hugs were comforting and warm and his kisses were soothing and freshening. However tired I was, Saad could invigorate me within seconds. I am sure every mother can relate to these feelings. I have those feelings still, although I didn’t get a chance to hug or hold or kiss him the last time. I couldn’t even fulfill the last promise that I made to him. Alhamdulillah that Allah keeps His hikmah, the decree with Him alone. How could I ever have let go of Saad otherwise?
People say that time is a healer and it helps us to come to terms with reality. However, my case is different. For me, time didn’t heal anything but faith did,Alhamdulillah. My faith in Allah (subhanahu wa taa’la) and His benevolent mercy helped me accept reality and move on in life with a deeper understanding of the purpose of creation.
In the first place, I was blessed to have spent about four golden years of my life with Saad. As I grew out of the walls of sorrow that I had built around me, I realized that he was just an amaanah (blessing) entrusted to me by Allah. I was to nurture and care for him and bring him up as a custodian or guardian would but I didn’t own him. He belonged to Allah just like all of us do.
I have so much more to thank Allah for mashAllah. He blessed me with Zayd and a year later, with my third son Mahd, both of whom have helped me retain my sanity all through the twelve years that have passed by without Saad. If Allah had willed, He could have kept me deprived of the joy of motherhood, forever. Above all,alhamdulillah for the ability to heal and the gift of patience with which Allah fills one’s heart, in times of such calamities. Truly, it is Allah’s promise that:
“Verily, along with every hardship is relief.” (Quran 94:5)
Saad’s death brought me closer to the realization that I am nothing without Allah and that the only supreme power worthy of my attention, love and devotion is Him. Over time, I have been able to build a very strong relationship with my Creator, alhamdulillah, where I can thank Him for each and every thing that He gives me, be it a gift of joy or pain. A hadithfrom Al-Tirmidhi makes me fall in love with my Creator all over again:
“When a child dies, Allah says to His angels, ‘You have taken the child of My slave.’ They say, ‘Yes.’ He says, ‘You have taken the apple of his eye.’ They say, ‘Yes.’ He says, ‘What did My slave say?’ They say, ‘He praised you and said in naa lil laa hi wa inna ilay hi raa ji’oon (verily, to Allah we belong and to Him we shall return).’ Allah says, ‘Build for My slave a house in Paradise and call it the House of Praise (Baitul Hamd).” subhanAllah.
Falling short of words to express my gratitude, I have often struggled to thank my Rubb appropriately. No matter how much I appreciate the blessings in my life and however much I acknowledge Allah’s generosity and benevolence, the fact remains that Allah’s mercy is the greatest gift that we humans can ever imagine.
My friend Parveen penned down her experience of losing her precious baby recently and used the following words that aptly describe my own feelings. “Any one of you out there who has lost a child, never despair. Allah in His infinite mercy has blessed us in many ways. Alhamdulillah, we are parents of children in Jannah.”
Many times, I have seen Asif shed silent tears for Saad. Often, Zayd and Mahd crave to have him around them. May Allah unite my family and all those parents who have lost their babies, in Jannah aameen.
This article was first published at Muslimaat Magazine.