Obituary: Abida Karamat Ghori, An ode to my ‘departed soul’

Karamatullah K Ghori is a seasoned career diplomat, author and former ambassador of Pakistan who has had a ringside view of history. He is now based in Ontario, Canada.

An Ode to My ‘Departed Soul’ – Karamatullah K Ghori

Ambassador Karamatullah K Ghori has had an eventful career and served in countries like China, Japan, Turkey, Kuwait, Iraq and Algeria.

My wife of 48 years and soul-mate of six years more than that suddenly, unexpectedly and shockingly departed from this world, last July 14, leaving me bereft without a soul. Because she was my soul, the locus of all my worldly existence and the epicenter of my intellectual domain, ergo her departure on a journey of no-return has caused a void in my little universe. Abida Karamat Ghori was much, much, more than a wife and life-partner to me in the conventional sense of the term. She was my world, and that’s the reason her departure from the world has left me staring, blankly, into a black hole of jarring bewilderment

KARAMATULLAH K GHORI

You’re entitled to think I must be going gaga: how could a living man write an ode to his ‘departed soul?’

But I’m neither going gaga or stepping into the unenviable precincts of senility. At the same time, it’s true that my life has gone out of me and I’m just like one reduced to a corporeal existence after having lost my soul.

My wife of 48 years and soul-mate of six years more than that suddenly, unexpectedly and shockingly departed from this world, last July 14, leaving me bereft without a soul. Because she was my soul, the locus of all my worldly existence and the epicenter of my intellectual domain, ergo her departure on a journey of no-return has caused a void in my little universe.

Abida Karamat Ghori was much, much, more than a wife and life-partner to me in the conventional sense of the term. She was my world, and that’s the reason her departure from the world has left me staring, blankly, into a black-hole of jarring bewilderment.

As students of Karachi University in the early 60s, we bonded intellectually, first, before love cemented the relationship and, eventually, marriage sealed it into a union of two identically-inspired souls.

As the wife of a glorified gypsy, a.k.a. a career diplomat, she took to the call of her hubby’s demanding work with a cheerfulness least expected of a girl grown in a typical eastern mold. It was tough to begin with and got tougher as our children came into this world to partake of her time, attention and energy. But complaining wasn’t her font. It was amazing how easily and effortlessly she glided from one role—of a mother—into the essential-better-half of a globe-trotting diplomat.

We both grew by nurturing and nourishing each other. Abida was a born-poet, gifted from God with sensitivity rare among poetess coming of age in a traditional middle-class Muslim family. I was endowed by nature with a gift for writing. I imbibed from her whatever I could to start writing poetry myself. She, in turn, forayed into my sanctum of short-story writing with a zest that could only come from her total proximity to me.

As the wife of a glorified gypsy, a.k.a. a career diplomat, she took to the call of her hubby’s demanding work with a cheerfulness least expected of a girl grown in a typical eastern mold. It was tough to begin with and got tougher as our children came into this world to partake of her time, attention and energy. But complaining wasn’t her font. It was amazing how easily and effortlessly she glided from one role—of a mother—into the essential-better-half of a globe-trotting diplomat.

I knew she wasn’t made to spend hours talking sweet-nothing with word-merchants that diplomats are from around the world. I could see that her soul of a poet felt uneasy and hamstrung sacrificing her precious hours—time that should rather be spent with her young kids and, when done with their demanding chores, on donning her poet’s mask—talking shop with wives of other diplomats. But she took all these ‘duties’ into stride with a smile that was more than a light to chase away my own gloom.

Our globe-trotting took us to all kinds of places—a veritable menagerie of myriad lands, cultures, languages, traditions et al. It was New York, to begin with, then Buenos Aires (Argentina), thence half-way across the world to Manila, in the Philippines. Kuwait, Tokyo, Beijing, Algiers, Baghdad, Ankara. It felt, at times, that we were in the middle of a kaleidoscope, or a rainbow of colors.

In the midst of all that back-breaking and hectic pace of activity, she steered her poetic exploits without hitting an iceberg. Abida’s remarkable knack for dividing her time between her calls of an ambassador’s better-half, the mother of four growing children, and a compulsive poet with a god-gifted art of creativity, was just amazing. By the time I hung up my gloves of a combative diplomat—and we decided to settle down in Canada where our young sons had preceded us—she’d published half a dozen collections of her inspirational poetry. One of the books, Rababyat, was a compendium of poetry she composed as grandma to our first grandchild, daughter of our only daughter, Tazeen.

Moving children and household, frequently, was a tough call. But she took the challenge without letting it ruffle her serene composure, ever. I’d only take care of my books; but she took care of the rest with far greater dexterity, without losing a sweat or her temper. At times I’d take all my frustration on her but she would absorb it all as if there were shock absorbers aplenty built into her.

In the midst of all that back-breaking and hectic pace of activity, she steered her poetic exploits without hitting an iceberg. Abida’s remarkable knack for dividing her time between her calls of an ambassador’s better-half, the mother of four growing children, and a compulsive poet with a god-gifted art of creativity, was just amazing. By the time I hung up my gloves of a combative diplomat—and we decided to settle down in Canada where our young sons had preceded us—she’d published half a dozen collections of her inspirational poetry. One of the books, Rababyat, was a compendium of poetry she composed as grandma to our first grandchild, daughter of our only daughter, Tazeen.

Three more books were to follow. These were collections of her mystical and devotional poetry, as with age, experience and maturity, she’d started drifting into the esoteric habitat of mysticism. Her last book, Jabeen-e-Niaz, which came out a good seven or eight years ago, was totally devoted to her hymns of praise — Hamd, in Urdu—to Allah.

Abida hated travelling since we put down our roots in Toronto. Rarely would she go on long journeys by air with me. Her stock answer, in response of my nagging demand that she’d come along with me, was that she’d had enough of globe-trotting over 35 years of my diplomatic career. ‘Go alone, Mian,’ she’d retort whenever I became too persistent. ‘I’ve paid my dues as your essential-half. Leave me to enjoy the blissful ambience of my home and the company of my grand-kids.’

I wouldn’t cross the line she’d drawn for me. But now, all of a sudden, she has embarked on her last journey all by herself. She never even bothered to ask me if I’d like to tag along.

She was never unkind or cruel to me. So why did she decide to go on her last journey alone? I’ve not been able to get an answer to this nagging question from anyone, or any quarters. Abida isn’t there, anymore, to come up with a convincing answer, as was her font all these years of our life together. Our friends used to say ours was a match made in Havens. But, then, how come she has proceeded to Heavens without me, leaving me to suffer my lonely existence in my new void, all by myself?

Abida’s time-glass was filled to the brim in those fateful — dark and dismal — hours of the night of July 13-14. But the clock of my misery has been ticking, endlessly, since then. It’ll go on haunting and torturing me till the hour comes for me to join her up there. I’ve no idea about the exact time of my tryst with her. What’s certain, however, is that the wait is going to be painful—very painful and excruciating, indeed.

It takes two to tango, and drifting all by oneself on the dance-floor looks silly, to say the least. It looks all the more dull and dreary when a life-long union of intellectual and visceral bonding is cut asunder by the uncaring hands of death. But death can’t be proud taking my soul out of me.

Adieu, my darling, my one and only love. I can’t wait for the moment when the same, uncaring, hand of death will re-bond us and we will be together again, forever.

An Ode to My ‘Departed Soul’ – Karamatullah K Ghori

Categories: Canada, The Muslim Times

2 replies

  1. I was reading ‘bar e shanasaee’ by Karamt sahib. I bought this book two years ago but scanning through its pages I hated Karamat sahib’s soft words for ziaulhaq and daku nwaz sharif. But when I started reading it, OMG, I was so impressed. This is true Urdu intellectual stuff. His diction places him with veteran writer and civil servant Mukhtar Masood. His deep knowledge of world history and events and grasp of human psychology makes him an outstanding writer. I wanted to write him a letter and meet him but he now lives in Canada. So I pray for his long and healthy life. His current obituary made me cry. RIP Abida Karamat.

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