2020 in Review: The Year of Mixed Emotions

I wasn’t planning to write this. Neither I wrote something like this in the past years. I wanted to complete post I’m working for months about the best businesses during COVID19 Pandemic.

So far, I’ve written dozens of blogs, articles & guides but never wrote anything for myself. Consider this as a disclaimer because I’m not sure whether you’ll like it or not. Because it’s for me.

2020 seems to be one of the biggest years of change I’ve ever had. So many things happened, so quickly and amid pandemic.

The evening of March 3, 2020 — After returning from the office of my startup Jaamiah.com, I sat with a friend for tea. He told me that they are shifting to another location, I asked him the house he previously rented because I was planning to bring my mother to Islamabad. He said he can talk to the landlord and share his contact details. We also discussed how much my mother is worried about my marriage but I’m planning to delay it further for 3 years as I want to continue the work on my startup with full attention.

10:05 PM — I received a phone call from my father, my cousin (just like a brother) who recently shifted to Islamabad and was working as a security guard for an apartment building in E11 said to be dead but not confirmed. I was to told to be there as soon as I could. It was about 45 minutes of drive from my residence. I was halfway through when I received another phone call from my brother and he confirmed that our cousin is no more.

When I reached there, his employer attended me and we discussed how he died. Before this job, he was a professional wrestler but when he left wrestling, he became overweight and heart attack took him in the shower. A few minutes later, a van of government hospital approached with his dead body in it, along with an ambulance arranged by the employer to take him to his village in interior Punjab. We shifted his dead body into the ambulance. His brother who a government servant also arrived and we left in that ambulance.

My father again phone called and told me to read the hospital prepared report carefully. While I was seeing that report, my phone rang and there was a text in our family group about the death of my mother which got deleted within a few seconds. I really couldn’t process that and phone called my father, he said everything is alright and you just focus on the duty you are onto now. I phone called two other people from my family but they didn’t pick my phone. The last thing I remember seeing was the PEMRA building. My heart wasn’t at rest. I phone called my brother-in-law, my sister picked the phone. I could only hear her cries and she could barely say, “Haseeb… our Ami (mother)… died”.

I dropped the call before she could say more.

I was drowned in the darkness, confined in pain.

I could feel my heart falling in the dark deep un-ending pitch. It felt like a nightmare.

I prayed it to be another attack of narcolepsy.

My brother called me and said where have I reached. “Ayaz… near Chakri (Motorway Interchange), Ami… how do I come?… What happened Ayaz?”

Ami couldn’t bear the news of the death of our cousin. As he was so close to her, more than a son.

I could taste my tears that day. He instructed me to reach interior Punjab and the next ride will be arranged by then.

My cousin was sitting at the back of the ambulance with the dead body of his brother. I could just say “Brother, Ami also died”. When the ambulance driver heard me and said,

Driver, “Who’s mother?. My mother, I said.

Driver, “How”?. Couldn’t bear the news of the death, I replied.

Driver, “Never heard my life, someone’s died for someone else’s son”

I texted a few of my friends about this and then there was silence for the next few hours, Neither tears.

I’ll end it here.

Soon, the Government announced lockdown all across the country. All of us were at home and I started working on my startup from home. Due to the pandemic and personal crisis I was going through, my startup also suffered severely but luckily a grant from my Incubator arrived and helped pay the debts of the startup.

As I was doing my Master’s as well. I had one subject and defence of my thesis left. During online classes, I was instructed by Professor to keep my mic on and respond as well so he could know I’m still listening, not just logged in.

Read: How to improve students’ engagement during online classes?

One day, I had that class at 2:30 PM and an important meeting scheduled at 3:00 PM. I made a plan to somehow bunk the online class on Teams and attend that meeting on Zoom. I gave kids some candies and told them to come to my room at sharp 2:35 PM and start making annoying noises.

They forgot and came at 3:15 PM. I was in the meeting on Zoom. You can imagine the rest.

Two Eid festivals during Pandemic and both without our beloved mother. I don’t remember, neither want to, what we did except crying. I went back to Islamabad amid pandemic, twice, just to avoid this pain. But It followed me and consumed me even more.

I avoid going to her grave, leave the gathering where she is being discussed, don’t keep her photos on my phone. I just can’t do it.

Let me tell you how sweet she was. I was in the last semester of Bachelor’s, going to mess to grab a cup of tea in a disposable cup. We used to call it, Cancer wali chaay (Cancerous tea), as we heard those cups when heated, release carcinogenic substances. Yet we used to take that tea too much. My father phone called me, as we both, father-son, were talking, I could hear my mother saying at the back, “Why don’t you ask him?”

Father, “Ask him yourself”. Mother took the phone from my father. While my mother was asking about my health and studies. She used to make very long introductory sentences. I was thinking about all kind of good things she was about to ask me.

I’m about to complete my studies. Is she going to ask me about the marriage? Does she have any girl in the mind?

I was blushing and waiting for my Mother to jump to that question.

Mother, “Son, what are you studying? I mean, your x cousin is becoming a doctor and your y friend is almost an engineer now? who you will be?

“Spiderman” I replied.

I was so annoyed that what I was thinking and she really asked.

She laughed, then I tried to explain her Biotechnology which I failed and then I simply told her that I’m becoming a scientist.

Read: Who Am I?

“So, Verily, With Every Difficulty, There is Relief” is the 5th verse from Surah al-Inshirah, the 94th Surah of the Quran.

I fell in love with such a beautiful and charming girl. She has supported me in that very difficult time of mine. She is the reason, I’m out from all the suffering.

She taught me what is meant by, to love and to be loved.

She is an artist, better artist than the author I can ever be.

She is my fiancee now and we are planning to get married at the beginning of 2021.

When she came into my life, good thing automatically started to happen. Starting from, I’m less of a douchebag now. I own a small car and rented a family residence in Islamabad. Along with Jaamiah.com (my first formal startup), I’m working with a group of researchers on a cosmetic and pharmaceutical startup as well.

This whole review is a reminder for me and everyone else who will read it, bad days always end. Just keep yourself with the right company.

Along with the fiancee, I give credit to my family, friends and team for helping and supporting me in this.

With Love,
Haseeb Ahmad

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