There’s always something left to love – Isbah Khalid
Before you read the article, we would highly recommend to read this article to get context of this heart touching piece – Editorial team
I won’t be sharing the eulogy I wrote for myself but this is what I hope it would be like. Written from Ateeb’s perspective but what I hope I’d achieve before saying goodbye.
“There’s always something left to love”
I can’t remember the number of times I heard her repeat these words said by her favourite writer Garcia. People called him Gabo, Marquez but she insisted on calling him Garcia and would get angry when people wouldn’t get whom she was referring to because he was Gabriel Marquez to the world but to my mum he was Garcia. I don’t think I can describe her better than by giving this example because somehow this describes who she was perfectly. She was obsessed with things and people she was in love with, I’d like to think one of them was me. She had such rage inside her, she’d get upset and go all ballistic only to forget about it within minutes. She was passionate and devoted but most of all she was “Esperanza” for me, for the people around her, for the world.
I don’t remember much of my childhood, I remember her face but that’s about it. I don’t remember her cuddles, her anger, her love and support, her protection and guidance but mostly because I wasn’t better like I am now. I do not know what she went through with me, how she helped me because like you all I only got to see the finished product of all her efforts and that’s me standing here in front of you, talking about a woman who had touched our lives one way or another.
I went to school, I finished college and now I have a job, I live on my own, I have a girl whom I love, and I owe it all to this ferocious beast of a woman who literally fought the world for me. I do not know of her struggles, I would never know the pain she had to go through to make a miracle happen but I do know she tried, she gave it her all. She always gave it her all. She was intimidating, she was fierce and maybe that’s why the world was scared of her, hated her at times but she came out strong.
I did not know how to love, she taught me that. I did not know how to survive in a world that made no sense to me but she showed me how by being a great example. She always used to tell me, Ateeb you saved me, you taught me so much. And I’d just stand there and wonder how can a kid like me could have taught anything to a woman like her? She’d know what I was thinking and would say, I know what you’re thinking but you don’t remember the time when I was literally at rock bottom and you helped pick me up, you were my foundation and still are, you’re the strongest person I know. Yes, that was her, never taking credit for anything good she did.
She’s left behind a hidden treasure. Books, her diaries, the novel she never finished writing, a gazillion bookmarks from all over, and small things and tokens people close to her gave her over time. But you know what was her most favourite one? The handmade card I gave her on her birthday, the first time I learned to write, I wrote her that card in broken English and I remember her breaking down in front of me and giving me a panic attack and then later crying over the fact that she gave me a panic attack. Yup, that’s how she was, totally crazy. I’m pretty sure she couldn’t even figure out who she was herself.
Most of you have known her for years, and would agree she wasn’t easy to love. She was bonkers, off her rocker sometimes and people were too busy trying to shut her up than to actually listen to what she was trying to say. But guess what, she just wouldn’t shut up despite everything. She was a headache, but the kind that leaves a nag behind and you actually miss it when it’s gone. I’d give up anything right now to have that headache back.
She had no accolades, no monuments were built for her, she didn’t fight in a war or save kids from poverty but she did what few people can do: she loved a kid like me, maybe because she knew what it’s like to love somebody who’s hard to love and God knows how hard I was to love. Those who know me and have seen her struggle with me know that better than anyone. At the end of the day it didn’t matter that she hadn’t done anything big that was tangible but what she gave to the world is what we need the most right now: love. Those who had her love would know how precious it was.
She was the first person I learned to love and now that she’s gone I don’t really know if I could ever love anyone the same way, with the same intensity again. But I’d keep her favourite words with me: There’s always something left to love.
Written and photographs by Isbah Khalid