I woke up on the 11th December 2009 and noticed more messages and missed calls on my mobile than usual. Squinting from the sunlight as I had just woken up, I opened the first text—“Baba is dead. Call me back.” You’d had a heart attack. That was it. You were only 54. There were no precious seconds to prepare for this devastating news. No way to somehow; un-see this text.
Your funeral was a blur. It took place nearby a Masjid. I stood by the door, the customary position for the family of the deceased. God wept a silent rain among the souls that gathered there that evening. The flowers were frail, almost drooping. Children wailed. Grown men wept. The sadness in the air draped like a thick blanket, dangling over all of us. I was at a state of repression, attempting to push the thoughts out—but the cold breeze forced its way back in.
I don’t remember shaking the hands of strangers as they ruffled my hair and promised that Allah was with me, nor did I remember the journey back home. But I do remember the image, like a permanent photograph in my head, of Baba’s body being slowly lowered into the wintry earth as it replayed itself over and over in my mind. And I do remember my hat becoming out of shape as the rain pelted the roof of it.