'Truth spoken without moderation reverses itself'
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Thursday, July 16, 2015
Manabi Katoch - A Thank You Note to India From a Father in Pakistan
Young Abeeha took her last breath in India. Yet, her father
has nothing but appreciation for his late daughter’s Indian hosts, the Indian
doctors and medical staff who treated her, and even the Indian army.
“Now that the lines are there, let them be there… Someone must have drawn them in anguish, now use them to divide the field into two halves and come, let’s play the game of kabaddi… Now that the lines are there, let them be…” – Gulzar
Thirteen-year old Nalain Rubab Imran, or Abeeha as she was
affectionately called, must have known the real essence behind these lines by
Gulzar. And hence, despite the LoC, a symbol of hatred on both sides of the
border, this little angel crossed over from Pakistan to India and left us
behind with a lesson of love.
Mr. Hamid Imran, her father, has written a thank you note in
“Neither can I forget the pain caused by the sudden death
of my daughter, nor the love which I received in India”.
Abeeha was a resident of Chakwal, Pakistan. She went through
a liver transplant once in Saudi Arabia, where her father was working in 2011.
But again this year, doctors advised another transplant. The transplant would
have cost Rs. 5 million in Pakistan, so Imran decided to head towards Apollo
Hospital, Delhi, India. However, this was not going to be easy. Abeeha’s mother,
Mrs. Sajjda Imran, was pregnant and in need of medical attention too. Moreover,
they did not know a single person in this unknown country, which was more like
an enemy to them until now.
Imran had graduated from the Govt. High School in Chakwal,
which was built by Sardar Chet Singh Kohli in 1910. Sardar Chet Singh belonged
to Chakwal, Pakistan, before the partition of India and Pakistan. His noble
deeds are well documented there and the people of Chakwal remember him even
today. He built schools and hospitals there before migrating to Delhi after the
partition. Coincidentally, Mr. Rattan Deep Singh Kohli, the grandson of Sardar
Chet Singh Kohli, visited the school recently on the occasion of its 100th
anniversary. He still cherishes the affection that the residents of Chakwal
bestowed on him during his visit.
“During my visit to Chakwal in October 2010 when the
school celebrated its 100 years, and again in 2012, the people of Chakwal and
the students of the school showered so much love and affection on us that it
cannot be expressed in words but only felt. My wife was in tears most of the
time she was there as they addressed her as the daughter-in-law of Chakwal and
were full of praise and thanks for what my elders had done for Chakwal.
Beautiful articles in the Pakistani newspapers ‘The News’ and ‘Aman ki Asha’
were published about our visit,” recalls Rattan Deep Singh Kohli.
One of the old students from the same school gave Imran the
contact details of Kohli in India. When Imran, along with his wife, Abeeha and
a donor, Manzoor Hussain, reached Kohli’s home, the latter, along with his wife
Paramjit Kaur, warmly greeted them.
“When Hamid came to India for Abeeha’s surgery, we did
not know each other. He came with a reference from another old student of the
school who I had met when I visited the school. From the moment we met, Abeeha
became very fond of my wife Paramjit. When my wife offered to cook special food
of Abeeha’s liking, she and her family were thrilled as she was finding
hospital food boring and tasteless. So, my wife would make different items for
her and the family as per their choice. For non-veg items, I used to get items
especially from Muslim vendors and cook for them. I knew Muslims only eat Halal.
So, when I told Hamid the meat was Halal, he said in Punjabi: ‘Bhai jaan, sade
waste thuhade ghar di har sha Hak Halal hai (dear brother, for us everything
from your house is Hak Halal).’ My wife and I were very touched by these
words,” says Kohli.
Abeeha was successfully operated on, on 16th March 2015.
Mrs. Sajjda Imran had to leave for Pakistan due to her health condition. But
she left feeling assured that Abeeha would be cared for by Paramjit who treated
Abeeha like her own child.
The next few days were critical. Abeeha’s health started to
deteriorate. But Paramjeet was there with her all the time. For Abeeha,
Paramjit was like a second mother. She not only cooked and took food for Abeeha
but also for other Pakistanis who were getting treated in the same hospital.
The Kohlis also invited some of them home and made the Punjabi delicacies that
they were missing. Paramjeet shared duties at the hospital and spent three to
four hours there, everyday.
“During our stay of over three months, we never felt for
a moment that we were in some foreign country. Rather, the exceptional love,
affection and care showered by Kohli sahab and his family made us feel that we
were at some hospital in Chakwal,” says Imran.
“Kohli sahab, his wife Paramjit Kaur, and their younger
son Gurjap Singh Kohli, used to visit us thrice a day. Mrs. Paramjit would cook
special food for us. We did not face any problem in Delhi,” Imran
But on 7th May 2015, Abeeha lost her battle with death.
“She often used to say that she loved India. She loved
this hospital and the doctors here and she would also say that once she was
fine she would become a doctor and join this hospital. I miss her!” says
Imran had taken a treatment package of 21 days at the
hospital. However, the rest of the fees were waived off by Apollo Hospital.
Imran can also not forget the way he was treated at the border by the Indian
Army while taking Abeeha’s body back to Pakistan.
“When our ambulance stopped at the border, a soldier rushed
to the vehicle and put a piece of green cloth on it so that the body could be
saved from the scorching heat.” – Hamid Imran
Even though Hamid Imran went with tears in his eyes from
India; he did not forget the love that Rattan Deep Singh and his family
bestowed on his daughter during their stay here. “Partition may have divided us and forced us to leave our
ancestral birthplaces, but even after 66 years, the love of the people for each
other has not diminished. The love of the people will one day overshadow the
politics of both the countries and bridge the hostilities between
them,” Mr. Kohli believes.
Speaking to TBI from his home in Pakistan, Imran said: “I
accept my fate. As a father I did whatever I could, with whatever resources I
had, for my daughter. As a Muslim, I accept Allah’s will.”
Imran could not find enough words to express his
appreciation for India: “I want people to know what ordinary Indians
are like. Not just Mr. Kohli, but the wonderful doctors and nurses at Apollo
Hospital who did their best to save my daughter – Dr. Subhash Gupta, Dr.
Sibbal, and so many others.”
“I also want people to know that people on both sides of
the border don’t care about politics. The human bond between them runs much
deeper,” he added.
Abeeha’s diary was found full of thank you notes to the
Kohli family and to the doctors of Apollo Hospital, Delhi. “I love
India!” wrote the little angel, before leaving for heaven.
“My daughter was meant to take her last breath in India,” concluded
Imran. May young Abeeha rest in peace now.
About the author: A Mechanical Engineer, Manabi
Katoch has been brought up listening to Tagore’s poems and stories, so she is
kind of an emotional person within. She loves writing poems and stories on
social and political issues. Few of her poems can be viewed on
www.poemocean.com and satires on www.mindthenews.com. She has worked with
Wipro, Frankfinn and Educomp in the past.