It was the last day of August in 2006. Late evening . Husband had to leave for night flying, like he always did. Nothing new. I was in bed, thinking how these last days of this 3rd pregnancy had been so difficult . I was introduced to the much hated thing depression during these months. What’s with all the gloominess all around . Everything is so different, yet the same. Monotonous.
No. It’s the hormones. Everything is good. It will be better. No. It won’t .
The day, for most of us at Masroor Base Karachi, began as a regular day. However the end of it changed the course of our lives forever .
Him : Yar, where’s the torch ( they need it while flying at night ). I need it. Have to leave in a minute.
Me: *thinking I just pressed his new coverall for him and put all the patches and name tag on it . Just forgot to put the torch in his pocket and how come he could never find anything that’s right in front of him*
” Wait, it’s in the top shelf of your wardrobe . I’ll get it .”
Him: No, it’s fine. I’ll get it from the Squadron if I need it. You stay in bed .
Me , however , being a little particular about his uniform and flying gear, thought I should get it for him in any case.
Till the time I got it out of the bed and got it for him, he was already on his way down to the car park .
I went out to the balcony thinking I’ll throw it to him but he was in a hurry. My eldest , then 6 year old, was besides me. Waving good bye to his Baba. For the one last time.
Stood there till his car was out of sight thinking another gloomy day. Or is it just me?
Night came. I heard the planes took off . Being a pilot’s wife you know you’ll hear the landing too after a while. I did.
“Shukar Allah ka . He should be home soon, better get the dinner ready.”
An hour went by. Then another.
“Well, that never happened before. He’s late. Why?”
Heard the ambulances on the main road.
“Allah khair … ”
Picks up landline. It’s not working. Dials his number from the cell. No response .
That’s strange. Why is everything so quiet. Yet the noises, what’s going on? Another hour passed. I get a call .
The call a pilot’s wife dreads all her life.
The voice said: “kuch pata chala plane ka ?”
It was his father.
Me: “kiska plane?” Still trying to avoid what my mind was trying to tell me.
My mouth uttered these words and in my heart I knew the worst has happened. The thoughts I’ve been avoiding for so long – I have to face them now.
A few hours passed. I saw people coming in and out of the house.
“They are still searching.”
“The area is hilly … maybe he ejected.”
“We were unable to establish a contact.”
I looked up the clear sky with the brightest moon possible, I still remember … And knew it was not the weather .
We are sitting in our living room. Me, ladies from the Base, friends, officers.
I’m thinking the girls are fast asleep. Good they didn’t get up .
I hear a transport stop outside . The coaster he used to come home in .
I go out on the balcony. I see all the officers from the squadron getting off of it. All in coveralls. I see the Base commander, I see the OC. I see everyone. Just not him.
I come inside and see the Base commander come in . He stops in front of me.
Trying to look at me and look away at the same time. Takes off his cap.
Everything of that fateful night, after that, is a blur yet I can remember every second of it.
“So it HAS happened… What now… What do I tell the girls when they wake up?”
“Should I call ammi ? And say what to her ? That your only daughter has lost her husband at the age of 27 ,with 2 toddlers and 3rd on the way? No. I should wait till sunrise maybe.”
A few hours passed again … house full of people .. coming and going . My mind was registering each and everything , yet I was hoping it’s a dream.
I packed . I got the girls ready . We came to Pindi for burial the same day. No words to describe that journey. In a C 130 with the coffin of your husband right besides you and your kids asking why are there flowers on it.
“Why’s baba not coming with us. Why are we going to Pindi while Nano was supposed to come to us?
I had no answer .
Today while watching the parade and the fly past, brings back all those memories. The respect to the uniform is ever so strong.
MashaAllaah for the PAF. Alhumdullialh to be a part it . No matter how short it was. Pakistan Zindabad.
This story is submitted by Sadia Sani, member of Soul Sisters Pakistan.