There is not a single moment when I do not think of you. Then again, dearest Bibi, I realise I am not the only one who feels such emotions and your presence.
For anyone who cares for Pakistan – and for peace at large – she means much. Bibi resides in the hearts of not just the democracy-loving Pakistani but also those whose lives she touched in myriad ways.
On June 21, 1953, a little princess was born to the lucky parents. Her cheeks were pink and rosy and so she was instantly nicknamed Pinkie. She brought joy along with her; her proud parents couldn’t take their eyes off their beautiful bundle of joy, their first-born. Her rose-petal lips curled into a big smile every time Mummy or Papa touched her cheeks. Papa wanted to give her a unique name, so they chose the name Benazir (incomparable or one of a kind).
The family’s four children grew up in a happy environment. Looking back, I often wondered why she chose this thorny path. She had the resources to live comfortably wherever she liked, but what brought her back to her people time and again? Why was she committed to her country and her people? People blame her of being in the “power game,” but I want to ask what power means when one is born with a silver spoon? This power cost her her father’s life, she had no choice but to enter politics.
Bibi was an extraordinary woman, fragile but sturdy, sensitive but tough, forgiving but firm. It is painful that she is not with us when we need her the most to resolve the turmoil that Pakistan is facing today. Not only would Pervez Mushuraf have been history by now, but the judiciary issue would have been solved amicably. For she was more than capable of dealing with challenges and difficult situations; all her travails and sufferings had made her wiser and stronger. For me personally, the tragedy is even greater. I could never imagine a life without her presence. Such unwelcome events and tragedies rip lives apart, leaving us bewildered and dismayed. I am unable to find the appropriate words to express her meaning in my life but I have convinced myself to some extent that we must find ways to grieve because only grief can give us some comfort.
Remembering her each and every moment of my life has given me the courage to deal with the loss and pain I was going through. I have allowed myself to reach my subconscious to uncover my true feelings and feel my pain in order to accept reality. I know that only then can I begin to heal. I have discovered a great way to expose my true feelings. I have found out that sitting with pen and paper, delving into deep thoughts and pouring your heart out in the shape of words, moulding words into sentences and sentences into complete thoughts is one of the best ways to grieve.
I am delighted that I have seen her triumph; I am glad that I was with her during her most difficult times when we found sanctuary in one other. I witnessed the leader in the making. I have seen her mourning for her beloved brother Shahnawaz. I have seen the passion in her smile when we landed in Lahore together on the April 10, 1986. I have seen her in her bridal dress, entering another era of her life. I have seen glimmer in her eyes when she held newborn Bilawal at Lady Dufferin in Karachi. I saw her sit on the floor of an operation theatre, sobbing silently where her brother Murtaza lay dead. I have seen her moments of pain when our party’s stalwarts and lawyers wouldn’t come to the courts, when she had to run from court to court, shuttling between city to city dealing with fabricated cases which were aimed to drain her emotionally and physically.
I can never stop thinking about her helplessness each time she visited her husband in jail with her two toddlers Bilawal and Bakhtawar and infant Asifa. I could see the heartbroken dejection on her face. Puzzled between her roles as a leader, a mother and a wife, she often broke down in private. At the same time she felt obligated towards her father’s mission, which she carried out and which brought her the audacity to deal with the appalling and extraordinary circumstances.
I felt her agony when she was betrayed by the ones she trusted the most because she was going through a terrible phase of her life and I have seen her longing for her children when she was forced to send them away. She found comfort in solitude, vowing not to surrender to the hidden powers who wanted to administer Pakistan according to their wishes. I have seen her devotedly taking care of her ailing mother. Her beautiful smile never revealed to anyone the anguish that she went through all her life.
Then there was an upheaval, when she lay lifeless in my arms, in a pool of blood, I saw her wrapped in white cloth, leaving us forever to her final abode. She was smiling even then.
Today, on her 55th birthday, I bid to recall the special memories of this remarkable woman. Happy birthday, Bibi.
Source: The News, 21/6/2008