Carleton College's student newspaper since 1877

The Carletonian

The Carletonian

The Carletonian

My grandfather’s final rest

My grandfather passed away almost exactly two years ago. He was the man who raised me, made me who I am and supported me when I really had nobody else. He had been all around the world before settling down in his home in Pakistan, a country that was younger than he was when he passed. He was a doctor, the head doctor of the clinic he owned. He once even operated on the future (now past) Prime Minister of Pakistan, Imran Khan. Above all, he was a good man, who did all he could to provide for his (absolutely huge) family and the people who walked into his clinic, regardless of class or social status. He was my grandfather, my Babaji.

The hospital he once ran, Fazal Heart Center, is now closed. It is a shell of its former self, the once-bright lights inside having long since been shut off for the last time. When I went back home for winter break and drove past the boulevard it was on, I felt this sharp pain deep in my heart. It was gone. He was gone. 

He passed after a long battle with COVID-19 stretching out over months. He contracted it while caring for one of his many patients, staying on the front lines of the pandemic even into his seventies when he was at so much risk. I stayed with my estranged father during that time so as not to burden my family as they cared for him, and while in the midst of my final exams. I would hear updates periodically, and we were all optimistic about his chances. My family came together to support him and each other during this time. It was the holy month of Ramadan then, as it is now, and so I would pray every night. I was the first to go to the hospital to donate blood when that was what he needed, and I hoped it would do something. Anything. I never saw him during that time, only hearing what my mother told me. I thought I would get to see him, that it would be over and we could go back to our regular routine. I never did, in the end. 

I could not process the news. I do not think I have processed it, even after all this time. I would take long showers in the days after, till my skin was red and aching from the hot water I doused myself in. I had to pull myself together for the funeral, for my family. I wore white on that day, dressed in the clothes he had done for me and me alone. I carried the platform on which his body was placed with the other male members of my family as we brought him inside his home one last time. I can still hear the wails of my grandmother, pleading with him to just wake up. I did not shed a tear. Someone had to keep themselves together for everyone. 

There were so many people there. Friends, family, staff and past employees. People who I know he had fired came up to me and told me how much my grandfather had done for them and how grateful they were. It did not do much to lessen the crushing weight in my chest. We bowed our heads in maghfirat, praying that he be granted Paradise. If anyone deserves it, it would be him. We took him to the cemetery next. On the drive there, I felt barely conscious, as if I was holding onto my sanity by the barest of threads. 

The hole seemed bottomless. A void threatening to swallow everything I had ever known. I stood there for what seemed like several eternities all playing out in excruciating slowness, collapsing into the moment where I was nudged forward to help lower him into it. I felt the coldness of his flesh through the cloth and the lifeless weight of his body as we all laid him down with our softest touches. And then I tossed the first clump of dirt and watched on until I could not see him anymore, would not see him anymore. 

Roses covered the mound and rose oil filled the air as we all stood around listening to the imam deliver the final words of the ceremony. And so it was over. We stood there in silence, stretching out the time, hoping that maybe it would be just like spending time with him used to be. But it was not, and so we left.

The days after that were a blur, filled with tears and uncertainty. We depended on him for everything, and now he was gone. I was given his room to move into a few weeks after. It was my job to sift through his belongings and organize everything into neat little boxes. Reduce the space that he lived and breathed and loved into those same squares. I unearthed crate after crate after crate after crate of camera lenses and photography equipment. I stacked them until I felt they would fall and crush me beneath their sheer mass. He loved photography and would spend his free time in the garden. I never knew how much that meant to him, seeing the love he put into his hobby. The things he collected over the years he spent doing it, for the simple joy of looking at and documenting nature. It is a part of him I never got to know, and now never would. 

It would be nice to say that it gets easier, that I got over it and moved on with nothing but the good memories of him in my heart. But it would also be a lie to say that it never did. I exist in this strange in-between that I do not quite know how to reconcile. I miss him in a way I’ve never missed someone before, but I feel that enough time has passed that I can see past the end of his life and reach back into the golden pools of memories I shared with him. I see him not as he is but as the glimpses of him I remember so clearly as though I had seen him just yesterday.

One of his last wishes was for me to study abroad, to leave my home and become independent. During those quiet moments where I finally feel like I can stand still and let my mind wander, I feel like I did when he was still around. I can almost feel his hand on my shoulder, and his words in my mind, telling me that it’s all going to be alright in the end. And so I continue to walk forward, holding his memory close within. 

Leave a Comment
More to Discover
About the Contributor
Rahim Hamid
Rahim Hamid, Viewpoint Editor
I write, I debate, I bike, I lie, I true, I draw and program and dance and all the rest. Say hi and don’t be a stranger! Rahim is a sophomore and previously wrote for the Viewpoint Section.

Comments (0)

All The Carletonian Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *