2/2. The saddest day of my life, 18 years and a million tears ago.
I flew out of JFK the night of February 1, 1992, headed to Pakistan - where it was already 2/2/1992. I was going to see my beloved parents in Lahore. But, I was en route via Karachi. My Mom had insisted I stop there to condole the death of a relative and a friend's father there, the previous week.
The powerful PIA Boeing 747 jet engines hurtled me over the North Atlantic, erasing 600 miles per hour between my mother and me. But, there was an invisible infinite eternal distance of space and time growing silently, a cosmic chasm that no known power in the universe could shorten.
As the plane was flying towards Europe, life was flying away. As the aircraft was coming in for a landing, unknown to me, my mother's soul was taking off into the heavens beyond this world.
Landing in Karachi, I was smiling and happy, when I disembarked, clueless about what tragedy had struck me but I was unaware of. I went to the airline counter to check the status of my connecting flight to Lahore that was supposed to be for a few days later.
I was flirting with the young lady checking my reservation, asking for a nice window seat. She looked at me in a puzzled manner that I did not understand then. As she quietly typed on the keyboard my curious eye made me read a telex message on her desk, facing her.
As I read the upside down text, my breath left me, my heart stopped. I felt the hand of death clutch my heart...
"Please give priority seating...
Passenger Imran Anwar needs to be on next flight....
Has to attend Mother's funeral."
That is how I found out that my mother had died, just over 50 years old.
Instead of seeing my Mom to open the bags of gifts I was carrying for her and everyone, I would barely get home in time to carry her body for burial. Instead of her pinching my cheeks as she loved to do, all I got to do was touch her cheek one final time, as I fell on my knees next to her. She seemed just to have fallen asleep.
18 years later today, to the day, not a day goes by when I do not shed a tear for my beloved mother. Tears roll down my cheeks as I write these words, and every time I relive that moment.
Ami, I will love you forever, even after I die.