The doctor seated across me is rather ugly; bald, squat, with heavy myopic eyes that regard me through thick glasses that have dug deep ruts into his nose. There is a tuft of fine hair that grow on his outer ears and some thicker ones that have aggressively made their way through his nostrils. These he plays around with the tip of his fingers while he studies the result of my medical reports in front of him. He must not like what he reads, for he frowns now and then, shaking his neck-less head sadly. What an ugly character, I think again; surely he could have trimmed his nasal hair and not toy with them now in front of me, making my stomach queasier?
The doctor comes highly recommended in Mumbai; his fees surely attest to this recognition. I recently completed fifty-eight years of healthy living and was going through a routine annual checkup when an anomaly surfaced. Since I am visiting Mumbai and the medical services here are readily available and relatively affordable, I have sought professional advice. This doctor put me through several tests and re-tests, wanting to make double sure before he reached some conclusion. He looks up suddenly and snaps shut the folder in front of him rather severely. I tense.
Mr. Yusufali, he says, his eyes large and sad, I am sorry, I have bad news for you. The butterflies in my stomach that are floating around now start flapping erratically and the speed of my heartbeats equals that of cars racing the Daytona 500. Almost. The doctor stoically informs me I have a grave illness that requires immediate attention if I am to live past the next three to five years. He recommends immediate treatment that will last about six months and make me sometimes very sick, perhaps. But it will give me a fighting chance to live for five years, at least. I think not twice and immediately decline treatment, thank him for his review and counsel, and leave. He has a look of utter bewilderment on his face as I close the door behind him. I seek a second opinion, which confirms the first. Is this, then, the end of the road? Gee, after all the discipline of workouts and sensible eating? What a bummer, no?
I have had a few weeks to think this life-changing event through. I will not seek invasive or drug induced treatment, as I firmly believe I have a good chance to live the three – five years without debilitating drugs savaging my body, making me a virtual vegetable. I have so much to do, very short time to do it in and many places to visit before the curtains fall.
I have no regrets, none. I have had an interesting, wholesome and full life alhamd’Allah; been there, done that. Allah has been exceptionally kind and gracious to me, much more than I deserve; He has blessed me with opportunities most people can only dream about. I view death as crossing shores between rivers. There are so many people waiting for me across there; my loving Mama, and Bai, who went so early, so young, and my brothers and other relatives and many friends. And Papa, who I never knew. And my Aimaas (A) of course, if I am real lucky. Or worthy of / in their presence. I am sad I will not be around to play with Maaha Zainab’s kids, and depressed that will not see the twenty-five Afghan schools I so passionately wished CAI could complete building. Ah well, sixteen built so far is an amazing accomplishment as well, alhamd’Allah. Add in the schools in India, Pakistan, Senegal and Liberia will make that 27! I pray some of the kids from these schools, especially girls, will make it to a more rewarding life. Insha’Allah.
Before death, I want to:
1. Ensure there is a smooth succession to someone who will lead CAI; I am working on that. There is a 4-man Trustee team already in place.
2. Complete all current CAI projects in progress. This will require me to be on the road a lot. I don’t mind; I am at home and comfortable amongst the poor and destitute that CAI serves.
3. Meet as many of you as possible. And thank you for being a part of my life. And apologize if I have rubbed you the wrong way. I am a very straight person, you see, almost like a wayward jaleebi, and I speak my mind. However, I have absolutely no malice in me.
4. Trek in New Zealand. Trekking is my passion, I love it, and New Zealand has some of the best trekking in the world. Never made it there, so this goes into the to-do list. Insha’Allah.
5. Work to complete my third novel that I will try and market, 100% proceeds will go towards the running of CAI’s several worldwide orphanages; hoping to raise US$100,000. I hope you will support this noble initiative?
6. I want your duas for this one, please. For personal reasons, I wish to be interned in Mumbai, India. I know I cannot time my death correctly, but I will be in that general vicinity. Please, please pray that I breathe my last in that city, that my final inevitably painful days are bearable and that Allah, the all Merciful, will forgive my many, many lapses.
So, so long guys, if I do not see and meet with you. I will still write my Blogs as long as I can; we can still keep in touch by email, WhatsApp app or phone calls. Let us please not talk about this dreadful subject when and if we meet or chat. I do not want your sympathies, although I appreciate them. Your prayers I need, certainly.
Note: Good news. The last two tests have both been negative and the homeopathy doctors treating me are very encouraged. I am under close observation and non-invasive intensive therapy. More importantly, approximately all 400 plus orphans under CAI care actively pray for my health regularly. Can Allah deny an orphan’s plea?