Reconnecting with my childhood friend through the internet.
I’m feeling stunned – with happiness.
Just can’t believe the series of events which brought you, Shib back into my life ( everyone preferred calling you Shib, instead of Mahira,)
Was it the sofa ? Or was it my latest book? … I suppose it was EVERYTHING! Nothing is inconsequential in life it seems.
Not even a new sofa, due to which the book shelf next to it had to be moved, due to which that shelf had to go to the lounge, due to which the shelf in the lounge had to be moved to the drawing room (because it was narrower.) That bookshelf which had all the albums on it.( It is the only piece of furniture which hasn’t moved, in this house of mine, in the last five years.) Due to which the pictures (including yours) were found under it. (No Shib, that is not where I usually keep old friends’ pics!) I saw the pics on the table, and picked them up, while I was talking to Mum and was looking at them too. I stopped at yours.
It was the fifth of March. Only the day before – I had written a few words about Mahira Rae Khan, my long lost childhood friend. Finding this lovely pic made me miss you all over again. Impulsively, I took a snap of it and posted it on Facebook.
Looking for this childhood friend Mahira Rea Khan. This is a pic of hers in a school in Calgary, Canada, of 1976.
My friend and colleague Nur Masud from Sheikh Zayeid International Academy, saw the post. She looked up your name and found your Facebook page, and gave me the link.
So, I looked up your page and left messages there. With great hope, I looked through the pictures looking for clues into your life of the last three decades, feeling like a stalker.
Yet, our friendship gave me the right to look through for clues… (Remember all those years of ‘detective’ work. We would try to find solutions to ‘mysteries’ where there were none.) Yet its taken thirty two years to find each other!
As time went by, it seemed so futile. I had tried everything possible to find you.
Now, that I had finally found you, and left messages there on the early hours of of 6th of March( your 5th march). I could barely sleep and when I did – I was dreaming of looking for you in Calgary!
I was dying to see your response to my message.
I had no idea that you had no idea.
While we were sending you messages, (my daughter Nataliya also wrote a comment,) you hadn’t seen any!
Later Shib, you found my messages, after you had found me the same time. It was a surprise for you, because you ‘found’ me on your own, by searching for ‘Pakistani artist Shireen’.
So, you found my Facebook page of Shireen’s Studio and left messages there. ( I was wondering why you wrote there, when I had posted from my Shireen Gheba page on to your page!)
At the exact same time !
How weird is that?????
It was in 1979 when we last met . It was 1985 when we communicated the last time, that was when you were inviting my husband Najib and myself to your wedding. You also posted a gift for Nataliya, my daughter.
Suddenly, on the same day and time, we were ‘finding’ each other independently after 32 years.
I guess your birthday brought us both thinking of each other.
So, the last time we were together was when we were growing up…. and now we are … growing older together??? What used to tickle me all this time, was trying to visualize you as old as you would be. Knowing you are three years younger than me (- only in years!) – Try as I might, I couldn’t.
Yesterday, there was this influx of memories over memories, as we skype chatted with tears in our eyes. (Nadiya asked me why I hadn’t taken a picture of our skype chat. I said we were so over whelmed. Never thought of it.)
Seeing you after all these years was so beautiful, so precious a moment. Finding you in tears brought tears to my eyes too. We asked each other, “how do we bridge the gap of over three decades of our lives?” Yet, it was so natural and wonderful to share our pains and sorrows. Catching up about those we lost, and those we found in our lives.
Then, my mentioning Surah An Nashra in which God says “with every difficulty there is ease …” and how these words have been a source of courage during hard times.
Your mentioning how these were the words that gave courage to Adam (your son) and Don (your husband) when your daughter Aisha was having her heart surgery last year.
What a co-incidence that the same words from the Holy Quran were a source of solace for us all!
You told me that when you found my ‘Shireen’s Studio page’ and saw my blog post on ‘I love Gooseberry Jam’, you knew it was me for sure. I remember too, when my mother used to send me gooseberry jam in Lahore while I was studying there, you would make me promise that I won’t have any of it, till you came over. So we could have it together only!
When we became friends. I was in grade six and you were in grade two. ( – I had had two double promotions.) We were neighbors and travelled in same bus to school. My teacher Mrs. Anees also went in same Rangers’ school bus. She sometimes would make remarks to me about my ‘friend’ who is in class two! (How could I have such a young friend?)
As the youngest one in your family, you were always mature, I never felt you were younger. In many ways, your wisdom and maturity always showed.I guess, circumstances, more than time had grown you up more quickly. Yet you took it all with your charming smile, and mischievous twinkle in your eyes. You preserved your sense of humor and inner strength all the way through the loss of a loving mother, and your own parent’s home. I’ve always admired you for your guts and courage.
Waking up to find your write up on Facebook, I’m sharing it here:
Ok …this is somewhat lengthy but a tribute to childhood friendships.
A remarkable thing happened to me last night…I found my long lost childhood friend, Shireen Gheba. As amazing as that sounds it does not capture the full essence of the event. I will have to go back and start somewhere in the middle as this is part of the story of being an immigrant. The gains are many when you leave one home to start afresh in another place where you must develop a sense of home and attach meaning and memories to places that are so foreign. The losses of being an immigrant are equally great. The friendships left and lost, moments of shared happiness scattered to the wind only to be stories which are read or heard second hand, sorrows which are never shared due to the love that holds us back from burdening each other across the seas. Then there are friendships that are simply scattered “…on auld lang syne…my friend”.
Deep in the shadows of my memories there was a girl, a friend, an artist, a ‘blood’ sister, a reader of Enid Blyton Books, a climber of trees, part of the secret society of detectives, a builder of tree houses, a runner, a part of myself. The world, especially the natural world, was our playground from dawn to dusk.
I realize that when I left her more than forty years ago, I left a part of myself as a fifteen year old that would never be allowed to grow and flourish. This was Shireen Sarfaraz now Gheba. Childhood friends hold us to our most true selves, they reflect who we were at our most vulnerable and strong time. When we were children and held the truth of the universe in our hearts without knowing it, that time together was the most precious thing, that love mattered above all else, that feelings can be hurt simply by a wrongful glance, that adventure was a natural next step in life, that we could lift each other across a wall or up a tree, that our very sense of identity was rooted in what the other brought forth to the friendship. To a certain degree, we are who our childhood friends propel us to be. For this is a time when we are secure and easy, perhaps since we are much closer to the Devine than we ever shall be. Shireen encouraged my strengths, to not be afraid to grab the next branch or to fall to the ground, to consider questions which were too big for eight and nine year olds to think about, what would the world be like in 2000? Was this reality real? Was there someone hiding behind the curtains? Where do we go when we die? Where did we come from? Some questions so shatteringly scary that we would occasionally just stop talking.
To have found Shireen is to have found memories of a time that was an oasis of ease during my childhood. When I had only one home, when fears were banished by one smile from my mother, or pain relieved by one kiss on the cheek. What a time it was, it was… a time of innocence, a time of confidences, long ago it must, have a photograph, preserve your memories… (Simon and Garfunkel)
Yes, Mahira Rae-Khan you pretty much summed up our childhood and our teenage years in this write up! (By the way, you are a fantastic writer!)
This is the gift you gave me oh so long ago. I’ve kept it in each of the twenty homes I’ve lived in during these thirty two years.
It was a Divine intervention for us to lose each other then, and it is a Divine intervention for us to find each other now. There are roles we play in each other’s lives in ways that only He can know. When the right time comes for it; it happens.
We spent a childhood free of the technologies of today, because none were needed. Perhaps that’s why we made so many more memories. It seems like Telepathy, internet, Facebook got us back in touch. We shall continue to stay in contact now using hi-tech world to ‘see’ each other and ‘be with other’, till we actually meet again.
Stay blessed my dear reader, make time to stay connected with your friends. I know, one can lose friends just because of being too ‘busy’. The joy that good friends give can hardly be replaced with any other thing.
I’ve always been truly blessed with great friends. Each friend of mine plays a different and important role in my life, which is her own niche in my life – no other friend can replace – so all you jealous friends of mine, who are reading this blog stay strong!
Mahira Rae-Khan you are back in my life now, to resume your role in my life,(and me in yours). Look out dear family members…. here we come!