Some time around five in the evening, on September 11, 1948, the ambulance carrying the Governor General of a year-old Pakistan broke down. It was an unmistakable reflection of the frail old man that lay dying inside. In a few hours, he would get his summon and the people of Pakistan their news: The Quaid-i-Azam was dead. Dawn would run this headline the next day: THE QUAID-I-AZAM IS DEAD, it would announce in upper case, adding, LONG LIVE PAKISTAN!
It was this long ago that Pakistan lost Muhammad Ali Jinnah. But it was not orphaned until 68 years later on July 8, 2016, when it lost Abdul Sattar Edhi.
In Pakistan, three days of festivity will be followed by three days of mourning. No sooner had the sun set on the third day of Eid than the tragedy struck as if it had been in waiting. The symbolism is instructive. Whatever provision there was for lux and leisure is now gone, what lies ahead is tough and taxing. It will have its toll but let us not be afraid to pay it. Let the sweat and blood now galvanize. Let the mind sharpen its focus and the heart find its faith. Tame the Self, bridle it, and haul it to selflessness and sacrifice. To Jinnah and Edhi – to Jinnahism and Edhiism.
No sooner had the sun set on the third day of Eid than the tragedy struck as if it had been in waiting. The symbolism is instructive
Edhi’s spirit, I like to think, has by now ascended to the heavens in a spectacular procession of angels. He will be greeted by God himself. There would be others of his kind, people whom this world did not deserve for any longer than it had them. They will celebrate being united with this gem of a soul and rejoice in their shared reward – eternal, as promised. Also, in a distance, will be him – the other man they called Father. What a sight it must be!
We, meanwhile, would gather to pay our respects and offer his funeral. His frail body would then be carried to the site of burial and lowered into his grave. Onlookers may be apprehensive but not Edhi. Edhi was not afraid of his roots. He would relish in that soil, take pride in being so close to it.
For the rest of us, the only escape from this grief lies in the words of Abu-Bakr Siddique who took the pulpit upon the death of Muhammad and proclaimed: “Whoever worshipped Muhammad should know that he is dead. While whoever worshipped Allah, should know that He is Alive and does not die.”