When my passport got lost, remembering other losses, I went on to my plan ‘b’.
In today’s world we are so well-organized and streamlined, that when the unexpected happens, we feel like grieving. We get upset and ask ‘Why did it happen to me?’ (Meaning,’I’m so perfect, why?’) It’s best to respond with:
It is important to put things into perspective.
That done: move on to ‘plan B’.
We get more upset at how much struggle we went through for ‘it’ and how we ‘lost’ it. I’ve found that when we read, ‘inna lillahe wa inna ilaihe rajiuun.’ It means, ‘to Him we belong, and to Him we return.’ I guess, that goes for all the things that belong to us too. 😉 they also get returned to Him- I mean, they weren’t ours anyway!
I should have felt bad, but I didn’t. I was convinced; it was Allah’s plan. So, I’m fine.
(You can skip the next two headings, if you are too busy.)
My Seattle Plans:
It was my daughter Nadiya’s idea, she had said that ‘once Waliya is married, it will become difficult for me to go. Come now.’ She was visiting her eldest sister Nataliya in Seattle, from Halifax, so it was a great idea.
- My daughters opted to help me: The eldest one Nataliya, got me the tickets from Seattle, my youngest one Waliya would take care of my parents and our home.
- Friends in Seattle in Canada, had planned to meet me: Mahira Rea Khan, in Calgary, decided to visit me in Seattle. We’d be meeting after 40 years! Dave Scirru (his mother is my mother’s second cousin) and his family also were coming over to Seattle to meet us. Stephanie Larkin, my blogger/writer friend, was planning to meet me, coming all the way from Oregon to Seattle. Of course, meeting Rubina and her wonderful family was definitely on the plan. Nataliyas’ lovely friends living in Seattle also spoil me and I love meeting each one of them too.
- My son-in-law Bilal: we were all set for our discussions on how to ‘save the world’ and specially Pakistan. I love to hear his sci-fi plans, and listening to him playing the guitar. Anya, my grandkid had plans for paintings, walks, picnics, Iqbal’s poetry and reading sessions. Of course, we were planning for Halloween outfits.
- Nataliya, Nadiya and I: were going to attend the Word Press Conference in Seattle, on Novemeber 11th, 2018.
Preparations in Islamabad:
- Medical help: Numbers of my daughter were given to my Dad’s doctors. In case of emergency (so, they pick her phone up as they do mine!) . My doctors, Mehmood and Fayaz Bangash also were my biggest assurance. The hospitals were earmarked too.
- Friend’s network: Irum, Ayesha and even Amber had opted to come at a moments’ notice. My dear Haroon, Uzma, Munazza and Qasim bhai were there with their stable help if needed. The folks living in my street are always there for me too.
- Local management office: Was informed, in case of any need from my family.
- Pays and payments: All pays were made to staff (even for next month) extra cash given to Mum and Waliya for extra expenses. I had also given the school fees for those under-privileged children for whom I pay. Yes, everything was done.
- My packing: Boxes packed, Nadiya’s stuff also packed in, gifts for all, and everything done. Yes, except the passport which was to be put in last, all done! (I SHOULD HAVE LOOKED UP MY PASSPORT EARLIER.)
The big passport bang:
One by one things started getting jinxed. So, the day before the flight, I looked for my passport on 9th afternoon, (I was leaving in early hours of 11th October 2018.) I started searching like mad. Till, I realized, it won’t be found. Paradoxically, I felt relieved.
Suddenly, I knew, my Allah doesn’t want me to go. Now, there was urgent need to cancel or postpone the tickets asap. (On one of my previous flights, the Indian girl sitting next to me during my flight from Dubai to LA, had to buy her ticket again, as she had mixed up the flight timings and had missed her flight.)
(All the time, I had been feeling guilty leaving my Dad in such a weak condition.)
‘Now what?’ I asked myself.
A reality check:
- I thanked my Allah:
- Everyone is fine.
- It has happened in my own home. (I could have lost it anywhere, while travelling.)
- I had to get the tickets cancelled immediately, and save my daughter from greater loss. So, Nataliya checked from the office of Emirates: they need cancellation to be done 6 hours before take-off. (They charged Rs.8000/- as forfeit, which was acceptable.)
- No, now I can’t go, as Waliya is busy after this, and I need to be with parents. Not for now.
- Believe me, a great deal of cleaning up and sorting out got done in the process. Stuff I’d been planning to get rid of, for ages. I mean, my husband passed away long ago why keep his stuff, when he is no more? So, finally, I’ve done some ruthless cleaning up.
- Most important of all, lots of useless files and papers have been got rid of finally. My house is clean now.
Lost passport process: (All those not interested, can skip this part too.)
On the way to the Passport Office on Monday, 15th October morning: I had come fully prepared:
- The ’original’ affidavit copy for lost passport with its details, had been made from the stamp paper guy. (Luckily, Nadiya had kept all records with me.)
- I had gone to Police 15 Service Station in F-6 area, for police report registration.
The man at the passport office desk said, ‘please go to make payment in National Bank first.’ (There is different payment for different requirement, which only the passport office can tell you.)
Dealing with traffic jam, and National Bank:
Looking for National Bank near Bella Road, in G-10, I ended up in a narrow lane with traffic from both sides. There were parked cars on both sides too. Naturally, the traffic got locked into a ‘jam’!
So, I did what I always do. I got out of my car, and guided each driver to move his car to get out of that mess. The good part is that whenever I do it, people cooperate. A young man took command, guiding traffic now, so I went to the bank.
Special privileges for women in Pakistan:
Stepping into National Bank, I found a young man slumped at a desk. He helped me in filling the forms. Then as I stood behind the last man in the queue to pay, he turned round and pointed at the empty ‘ladies’ counter, so I went gratefully.
Only in Pakistan, you get special privileges for being a ‘lady’ and the men don’t mind, if you reached after them and get served first. May God bless them.
Back to passport office:
By the time, I got back to the passport office again, I was looking a wreck.
Now, I was ready for my picture.
It has come out as horrific as dreaded. On top of it, they make you remove the glasses – so my ‘educated’ look was gone too.
I perked up, smiling:
still, I was happy. My work was completed before 2.00 pm, when the office closes, AND ALL IN ONE DAY! (I had already spent half-a-day earlier, with affidavit and police report.
Now it was time to celebrate:
So, I called up my friend Naila, and we went off to China Town to celebrate together.
I sat down over my cup of rosemary and lemon grass tea yesterday, to write what I’ve learnt from this experience:
- Be more focused.
- Stop over-planning and prioritize. First things first.
- Do one thing at a time.
- Learn to say ‘No’, so you can focus on the important.
- Take regular walks – it really clears your mind and refreshes your perspective.
At time of any loss: How to bring things into perspective:
- Making the decision: ‘ I will not be upset.’
- Accept that it is from Allah. (After all, I had done everything, yet it happened, so it has to be Divine Intervention.) Accept this and know if it’s from Him, then there will be some good in it.
- Count your blessings, and thank Allah.
- Look at previous losses: Quite recently, I lost approximately Rs.280,000 ($ 3000) due to a really bad tenant. I had gone through a lot of tension and hassles due to those liars. I made up my mind to not think about it. ‘Allah ki marzi’, but naturally, I was unhappy about it.
- Ask for Allah’s forgiveness: I thought of the cute special child of one team member of CSS school. How lovingly the father Zahid cared for her during the barbecue at Trail 5. You can see it here. Suddenly, I felt so small. I said, ‘sorry’ to my Allah. Sorry that I had felt sad at the loss of that cash, or later on this passport issue. My problems were petty compared to this situation faced by a parent. My heartfelt prayers went out to him and his lovely daughter, and I asked my Allah to forgive me.
- Verses from Quran and prayers: Specially reading, La illaha illa Anta subhanaka, inni kunto minzzaualemoon, definitely helps.
- Be grateful it was this problem: It could have been something far worse, so this is the least of it all. Thank God, we all are happy, safe and fine wherever we are.
Getting plan ‘B’ into action:
- Now that I was all perked up again, I informed my family and staff: I’m not here, I’m still on holiday, so carry on as planned. (After all, I had to keep all that planning to good use. Everyone agreed.)
- I’m working full-time on my next book, Message from the East by Allama Iqbal. So, I’ll be painting and working on composing and editing for my next publication. Insha Allah, (if God wills. )
- Then there is the screenplay course that I did. Thank God I chose this one in Islamabad.
So, it isn’t what happens to you, but how you choose to react to what happens, that matters. Stay blessed.:)