The phone call I wish I had never received

Published: April 20, 2012

My parents loved me unconditionally and in return I wanted to give them the very best of life. PHOTO: OVAIS RIAZ

I don’t know whether this is the right time to write this blog or not, but I do hope that when people read it, it will help them make the right choice when faced with a situation similar to mine.

Exactly 16 months ago, I was standing in line with other confused Pakistanis – the lot who ask themselves the same question day and night: should we move abroad to greener pastures?

I am not trying to vindicate my actions by writing this; the truth is that it was a difficult decision for me. On the one hand, you think of your parents who are in their late 50′s, and on the other, you see a way of accomplishing all your dreams in the shape of a green card.

Being born to a family where I was the only son, trust me, the idea of going abroad brought to light a lot of responsibilities.

My intentions were not wrong; I belong to a middle class family, but I never felt deprived in any way because I was given everything I asked for. My parents loved me unconditionally and in return I wanted to give them the very best.

Not only did I want to shower them with tremendous love, but I also wanted to provide them with the most choicest of luxuries. To achieve this, either I could do something felonious, which would have made me a millionaire overnight, or I could start a business which would make me a business tycoon soon.

So the most sparkling option I was left with was moving to the US to pursue option B, since I wasn’t to keen on becoming a felon. The plan was simple; go to USA, work hard, make money, get a blue passport, apply to bring my parents and sister to the US and “live happily after”.

I didn’t realise then that no matter how much I planned, it wasn’t necessary that my plan would be executed as I desired.

I discussed my situation with a lot of sensible people, asking them for advice on what to do. The majority, including my parents, suggested that I move out since it was just a matter of under three years. Their judgement was based on only one factor; uncertainty. Uncertainty in the country, uncertainty of jobs, uncertainty of the political situation and the list went on.

Hence the decision was made. I moved to the US in 2010, along with my wife Mahwish and my daughter Eshal. God has always been kind to me;  things were not as tough as we expected. I had a fantastic start and began to settle very quickly. Along the way, I was also blessed with another little angel, Ellmyra.

However, there was still fear in my heart. I was constantly worried about my parents and my sister whom I had left back at home. I worried about them every waking second. I swear to God, whenever our phones rang, we used to simultaneously say:

“Allah khair karay, is waqt kiska phone agaya”

(God have mercy, who is calling at this hour?)

I tried very hard to get rid of this fear, all along knowing that one day it will undoubtedly come true.

I consider that night as the darkest night of my life. It was 10:30 pm when my phone rang, an unknown number from Pakistan flashing on the screen. I picked it up and recognised my father’s voice on the other end right away.

“Papa khairiyat? Itni raat ko?,” I asked.

(Is every thing okay, dad? It’s so late at night.)

When my father responded, he sounded like a broken man. His voice cracked as he uttered words I had never imagined I would hear; my worst fear was looking me right in the eye.

My dearest maa (mother), my lovely maa was not with us any more. (May God grant her a beautiful place in heaven, Ameen.)

That day I realised that the people I had approached for advice had mentioned a lot of things, but forgot the most important one; life is also uncertain, especially the life of your ageing parents.

I don’t know whether my decision to come here was right or wrong, but there is only one thing I want to say to people, regardless of whether they are living abroad or in Pakistan. Please take care of your parents, they are priceless and nobody can replace them.

Maa you haven’t gone anywhere. You are in my heart and always will be. One day I will live with you forever. I love you maa.

Follow Ovais on Twitter @Ovais_Riaz.

Ovais Riaz

Ovais Riaz

The author runs an event management and advertising company called "morEwish- Event Management & 360 degree advertising agency". He tweets @Ovais_Riaz.

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.

  • http://twitter.com/#!/Pugnate Noman Ansari

    I am sorry for your loss but that’s life dude. Had you stayed behind, her fate wouldn’t have changed. I don’t quite understand the reasoning in your blog. It is illogical. Besides, think of your kids. A decade from now, they will be thankful you chose to adopt the United States as your homeland.

    You also seemed quite paranoid about those phone calls. I don’t think your heart was in this. Stop blaming yourself etc. There is no such thing as fate, aside from what you plot for yourself.

    Maa you haven’t gone anywhere. You are
    in my heart and always will be. One
    day I will live with you forever. I
    love you maa.

    Your mum is gone, but you sound really depressed to have blogged publicly about this. Cut the chord. You need to be positive and happy for your kids. How would they feel if they heard you say you can’t wait to join your mum? Kids are really sensitive. Recommend

  • http://twitter.com/#!/Pugnate Noman Ansari

    ummm cord… not chord. Recommend

  • Z.Khan

    A story every Pakistani abroad has to narrate. The other day a young promising British National doctor informed he is planning to go back to India from UK as prospects in India propping up much encouraging. Security and certainty for better future in his original motherland is much higher. Alas some one could deliver same in Pakistan then no such sad situation will bother those who, out of compulsions, go abroad.Recommend

  • http://peddarowdy.wordpress.com/ Anoop

    Very sorry for your loss. You are very right.Recommend

  • http://peddarowdy.wordpress.com/ Anoop

    @Z.Khan:

    I’ve seen many of my friends coming back from US for similar reasons. Some just don’t want to stay away. What does US have that India doesn’t, they ask!Recommend

  • http://think-islam.blogspot.com PostMan

    @Noman Ansari: ‘her fate wouldn’t have changed. I don’t quite understand the reasoning in your blog. It is illogical.

    Of course her fate would not have changed. What he missed was serving her, caring for her when it mattered the most. This guilt will remain with him for the rest of his life. Trust me. It does not go away. I know it. You can be very successful, your children all prospering but this thought always kills one. The value of the parents is realized when either one loses one or has his own children. Then one realizes that how important role your parents had performed in your life.. giving you everything and what did you do? You ended up in the other corner of the world doing things that basically are selfish – for your own self. Parents are a gift of God.Recommend

  • Jamal

    Very very sad and heart rending article… very sorry for your loss.Recommend

  • Jamal

    Indeed maybe if we didn’t have politicians to eat us away, we could come back too. Recommend

  • GD

    whats the purpose of this article…thousands of Pakistanis live abroad, work day and night to meet their ends, what lesson you trying to give them… thats life, everyone has to go…waste of space.Recommend

  • http://twitter.com/#!/Pugnate Noman Ansari

    @PostMan:

    Sure, it is sad and tragic, but he had other people to think of. They are supposed to sit on the backburner? Recommend

  • A.B.Z

    my story almost resembles to you as i am also the only son of my parents. I had been to UK for my higher studies, and was placed very well, but i decided not to stay a single moment after my education and serve my parents..And every one i came across and those i had left behind still praises my decision as its a very tuff choice to make, but i am greatful to my DEAR ALLAH PAK that i am doing even good in Pakistan while serving my PARENTS..

    i must say this BLOG is an eye opener, as this life has been given just once to us, what else a better way to spend it than to serve one’s parents and earn Jannah..

    MAY ALLAH PAK BLESS YOUR MOTHER’S SOUL…Recommend

  • trtk

    Woe to him in whose presence his parents or one of them attain old age, and through failure to serve them is not allowed to enter Paradise.

    Look it up!Recommend

  • Morning Glory

    May her soul rest in peace and may she get the best place.
    A heart touching piece. May Allah enable all of us to serve our parents and never hurt them. AmeenRecommend

  • http://think-islam.blogspot.com PostMan

    @Noman Ansari: ‘Sure, it is sad and tragic, but he had other people to think of. They are supposed to sit on the backburner?

    Who said they’d be put on back burner? This also does not mean that parents are put on the back burner just because he has to think about his career and his children. By referencing ‘him’ I am not accusing the writer here, just referring to the subject.

    See. When you are in far off land away from your parents… earning for yourself or for your children, on various occasions you have to bear the costs in various forms. Losing ones parents while being away is perhaps on the top. Knowing that your parents did so much for you and you could not serve them when they needed it, it hurts.Recommend

  • reality

    This is life….manRecommend

  • Javeria Mahmood

    May her soul rest in heaven…..
    :,(Recommend

  • drenched in deep thots

    I am having this same problem…being the only son…i cant leave my parents behind alone and i dont want stay in the mess that this country has become….. Recommend

  • Ayesha

    @Noman Ansari:

    Dude, i think you’re over thinking this a little bit. Not everything has to be a piece of literary genius where all ends are tied. Its just a blog about a person who has faced something thats shook him badly. Just offer your condolences like a normal person.Recommend

  • sick of this nonsense

    I feel very sorry for your loss but the blog was very poorly written. You failed to establish how your going to the US would have changed everything. I am sure your mother must have been proud of you that you were doing so well, for her stop crying publicly and carry on for your kids and provide them the same support your mother provided you.Recommend

  • hira naz

    thats true….really feel sad for your mother…Recommend

  • waqas

    Dear author …… have just sendth a request on twitter …. Recommend

  • Hum khayal

    @drenched in deep thots:

    There is no right or wrong answer to this question. Our parents would normally would not even discourage us from leaving the country as they want us to thrive in our lives in every possible way. Thing is, and we can NOT be practical about it, we need to understand what life is all about – what definition of success do we have. Religiously, our success is very well defined – that of finding Jannah in the hereafter. And pursuit of THAT success, makes our decision very, very simple indeed :) Recommend

  • http://blogs.tribune.com.pk/author/944/sabeer-lodhi/ Sabeer Lodhi

    It wouldn’t be wrong to admit I felt the writer’s pain by the time he ended his article, although I can’t relate to the situation. Extremely saddening and touching.

    I’m sure your mother is at a happy place and smiling down on all of you. She’s happy to see you a settled man who is proving to be a good father. But please accept my sincerest condolences.

    It is sickening to see a few ‘realists’ saying it is all a part of life. Yes, it may be. But what is also a major part of one’s life is his parents, and the loss of them can leave unbearable voids that can never be filled.

    The least we can do is show solidarity with somebody who has lost somebody as close as his mother.

    Ovais, while you may have lost one of the most important people in your life, stay happy healthy and blessed. Life’s just started – and it is reflecting through the eyes of your children. Good luck! Recommend

  • Khalil

    Very touching blog. I am also expatriate Pakistani living in Europe and I also share the same fear. People like us are struggling between two worlds, for the success in west, we get cut off from family back in Pakistan. Continuous instability and nepotism in Pakistan discourage any talented person to settle back in Pakistan. But despite all odds back in Pakistan, there lives our parents, and they are priceless and nobody can replace them. May your mom rest in peace! And bestow health and long life to our parents whose love is matchless.Recommend

  • Ashish

    Guys , the question here , which must be asked is that why westerners are not moving to this part of world ? The pointer goes to our “beloved and elected politicians ” who have made our country hell. It is directly related to earning prospects ,facilities and peace. In recent times , though , I have seen a change in Indian youth’s mentality and many people have started returning back to India but prefer to stay in metro cities.Recommend

  • Asfand Saleem

    I am so very sorry for your loss!
    I completely agree with you. We tend to forget how very blessed we are, and parents are the biggest of those blessings.

    We need to take a step back from our normal daily routines and try to think and ponder over what really matters to us in our life.

    May she rest in Peace.Recommend

  • Vikram

    ” Author says I don’t know whether my decision to come here was right or wrong, but there is only one thing I want to say to people, regardless of whether they are living abroad or in Pakistan. Please take care of your parents, they are priceless and nobody can replace them.”

    I am sorry about your mom. You could not have stopped her death even if you were in pakistan.

    This thing could have happened even if you had gone to work in a different city in Pakistan itself. Innoecnt people die of bomb explosions. Minorities like Shia get targetted. Ahmadis live in constant fear of death.

    Your worrying can’t change anything. You probably making lot more money in USA. You can help your family back home. You can invite your dad to visit you and spend time with you..Recommend

  • http://www.marketingdhaba.wordpress.com Athar

    Ovaiz Riaz, I am really very very sorry for your loss. . I am with you.Recommend

  • SA

    Sorry about your loss dude. But your staying here would not have saved her life; its not as if she was medically neglected. Still, I get that you would have liked to be with her in her last moments. Point. But the thing is that your mom herself encouraged you to go. You haven’t mentioned the extent. If I narrate my own personal experience, I was practically coaxed into going by my mother, and I’m not alone; lots of parents actually push their children to go abroad regardless of whether their children want it or whether they can accompany them, for a variety of reasons; the constant daily fear of living here, status quo, material reasons, or simply because they want a better life for the kids.Recommend

  • Lazyshooter

    So many people criticizing the blog n it’s logic…come on people be humane..u ain’t here to gauge his writing skills..think beyond the script, it’s plight of a sad man..dont appreciate his blog but atleast say these 6 words “MAY HER SOUL REST IN PEACE” amen… Geta life .n don’t cover it up with ur so called practical approaches…be nice to evyoneRecommend

  • Salman Ahmad Awan

    Touched the right cord!Recommend

  • Nexus

    I am sorry to hear this – there certainly isn’t a replacement for mother. We came back from the states to serve our parents – we were full of uncertainties but when your will is correct, Allah guides you and I can say confidently that Allah has opened paths for us. Secondly when people talk about ‘secure’ future in the west – BULL! Your child’s future, your generation, your culture , your religion your values are all in danger – you may control things to a certain extent, and then later? The best way to judge if a place is worth living in is by taking a look at the ‘aunts’ and ‘uncles’ who have moved there since forever – all the ones I knew were way more lonely then those here in Pk, and their kids weren’t necessarily living with them at their old age. Go figure. Its best to serve your parents – sow now, reap later. Recommend

  • Ali

    due respect to ur MOM may she rest in peace AAMEEN, but see around. wut is the choice v have.. i completed my masterz in 2010 and for a whole year kept looking for jobs.. my father was to retire in 2010 but since there was no-one else to support the family financially he requested for 2 more years and kept his job. NOW can u live with the guilt that ur 60 year old father goes 7 in the morning and comes back 6 at night and u cant do nothing about it??

    What can one do in this situation? i moved to Dubai in early 2011 on a VISIT VISA of 1 month. and i got job in jus 6 days.. my father stays at home i and grows fresh vegetables in the garden. they have visited me twice and i have gone back once. this is LIFE BRO.. U GOT TO LOOSE TO GET SOMETHING.. U CANT HAVE IT BOTH WAYS.Recommend

  • Hamid Ishfaq

    aoa. may Allah grant your mother a place in Jannat. Just wanted to say two things:
    1: Life’s uncertain, regardless of age. Everyone has to die but no one knows when. So thinking that
    life of ageing people is more uncertain than the ones who are young is wrong.
    2: Everyone thing happens for the benefit of one’s self cause Allah never wants anything bad for his
    believers( until they do something unacceptable according to Islamic perspective) so your
    decision of moving to the US is not actually wrong. Everything that happens has its positive
    effects and negative, sometimes we only weigh the negative effects because they occur usually
    in the short run but often we realize that we made a decision may months or years back and it
    did not feel right at that time but it had a positive effect on our future and in your case as the very
    first comment mentions your off springs will tell you how good was your decision

    May Allah guide us all to the right path. Jazak Allah

    P.S: This is just my opinion :)Recommend

  • http://lonepkliberal.wordpress.com Loneliberal PK

    How is your mother’s tragic demise a result of you perusing your passions in America?

    While it is understandable that you feel sorry for not being there beside her, your absence was not the reason for this crisis unfolding the way it did. It’s a natural cycle of life. You mustn’t be so harsh on yourself.Recommend

  • Parvez

    Parents are irreplaceable and loosing them is a difficult experience, everyone knows this.
    I really did not get the true reason for your writing this blog. Recommend

  • Abdullah Qureshi

    I am so sorry for your loss!Recommend

  • A Concerned Pakistani

    I KNOW what you mean when you say

    “Allah khair karay, is waqt kiska phone agaya”

    I live in Dammam, KSA and I am also an only son, may Allah SWT grant your mother eternal peace, and to you the courage to forgive yourself, even though you know what you did by moving to the USA was not a wrong move.Recommend

  • SIdd

    @A.B.Z:
    People here should literally take you as a role model. You left the country of opportunities, you left your job, you left everything behind which is normally termed as “Hare Baagh” (Green Gardens) and you came back just for the utter care and love of your parents. I must say despite the fact that Pakistan’s job/business situation is worsening day by day, but for you Allah opened a door from one of His special treasures is a true and factual proof of this. You made your parents proud and above that, made Allah even prouder of you! Recommend

  • Afroze

    May your mother’s soul rest in eternal peace.. It’s a story of every pakistani.. Somehow your story also resembles to mine.. I get my higher education from Pakistan n also had good job but I can’t make enough money to support my family as well as my parents.. N the worst situation Pakistan facing these days, no electricity, long strikes n all forced me to leave the country just because of my future.. I really luv Pakistan n miss all my relatives n friends overthere. Still there was a fear in my heart n I was constantly worried about my family however I daily talk to my family n I never switched off my cell phone at any cost because of any emergency. I don’t know why but sometime I scared whether I met my family or not during my life.

    It’s my request from our public, please safe Pakistan n be honest with the country..Recommend

  • jock

    May God help you through these times.
    In all probability, you could have been stranded in traffic on Sharae Faisal or I. I. Chundrigar Road and not making it home (or hospital) in time when you got that fateful call. That most precious last moment of being with one’s parent could have been lost even being so close to home.
    I am sorry that you found about the fine print in life the hard way. Recommend

  • Confused

    It’s hard, but don’t blame yourself for it. Because, regardless of whatever the circumstances are, nobody wants to see their parents die. That does not mean you were a bad son, you did more than many with great moral responsibility and I’m sure no one will say to the contrary, but if you keep blaming yourself it will never end. Realize that death is inevitable, and cherish what life you have and have had. You will die, and your children, and everyone else, but one makes the best of life while they can :)Recommend

  • Tal

    Your parents will always want good for you. If prospects are good abroad, sure they will encourage you, because that is what they have been doing all their life, to do whats good for you and now definitely for their grandchildren too once you have a family of yours. But what about them? When would you do good for them? They need you the most in their old age and that’s the time when you are the most busy seeking all sorts of securities in the world(now for your children perhaps). Now thats a tough situation to be in. Whom to make priority? Any wise person, again, if you may ask any wise person, he will tell you to look after your parents and that is what our Prophet (s) commanded us to do. And doing that does not mean you sacrifice the future of your children. If you make the right choices, follow the commands of Allah, He will make it easy for you to provide for your kids. He is doing that anyway, its not you who earn for them, its what he blesses you with. (now i dont mean you stop working and wait for mon salwa to drop down from the heavens). But man, what a sorry state you would be in if you miss out the chance to meet Allah in the hereafter, just because you had parents in old age and you didnt(couldnt does not apply here) serve them, took care of them because you were too busy making your life prosperous which was going to end any way. What a poor trade off is that. This is not an emotional approach that i have expressed. This is it!! The truth that your mind does not let you discover and your heart cant seem to think. Grow out of petty life and think beyond. Its never too late to reflect, realize, react and be rewarded. And by ‘you’ i dont mean the author but everyone out there, including myself who has ever thought about it or going through it. Thats my personal take on it. Dont buy it if dont like it. Recommend

  • abhi

    Very touching blog! There is no straight forward answer to this dilemma.
    Namesake is a very good novel written on similar subject. Recommend

  • Aseff

    @Noman Ansari:
    I respect the writer’s sentiments and disagree with you, here’s why:
    1. Being with his mother, Owais would not have changed her fate, but surely would have been the source of immense happiness to his mother by just being around.
    2. If you think of Ur children and they think of theirs, who’ ll think of you when Ur wits and health are withered.
    3. I believe in the signifcance of the last days in a person’s life, at that point, the writer’s Maa (God bless her soul) would have told you, that no riches or quality of life compares to the love of your dear ones and their company.
    4. I hope you’ll have love and consideration in life and respect for sincer emotions as the writer has been kind to share.
    5. On the day I die, I hope to be surrounded by my loved ones, and im sure u do too.
    I wish you well!Recommend

  • Ali

    @Assef

    We r not saying that one should not be with his parents. whatever the age they are in, a child always wants to be with his parents(or loved ones as u put it). But then again it is the matter of choice and NEYAT i guess. if ur ageing parent(s) are working and you r striving for jobs wut good are U bringing to them then?? Can U see ur Father with headaches, Blood Pressure problems, Sugar and yet working because his son won’t get a job? CAN U LIVE WITH THAT GUILT?? wut gud u have been to them wen they finish their lives just working for U??

    All i am saying is that everybody Loves his parents. those who get the chance to serve them while living with them are blessed. But those who could not be with them but made sure their Parents spent happiest last times ARE NOT SINNERS (as other comments mentioned earlier)Recommend

  • Ammar

    @Noman Ansari:
    Dude you’re confused even in your own post

    “. Had you stayed behind, her fate wouldn’t have changed.” .. to ” There is no such thing as fate, aside from what you plot for yourself.”
    Recommend

  • http://www.flickr.com/ameerhamza Ameer Hamza

    Asalam u Alikum Ovais,

    I hope you remember me from MAJU days. Sad to hear this. It’s good that you feel this way. It’s not easy living outside Pakistan with your parents here. I can count lot of people like you. But life has to be spent forward not backwards. The ultimate decision lies with you. Pakistan or abroad. People here earn as good as any other country, and there are lot of them who earn honest living. It’s just that we receive much worse press than lot of other countries. Recommend

  • Haris Javed

    Inna Lillahi Wa Inna Ilahi Rajioon.. .
    May Allah swt grant patience to bereaved family.. .
    plus Yes! totally agreed if you would had stayed back here, you would have been better able to take care of her.. .but you went usa for providing your parents with most choicest luxuries.. .
    so gone is gone! undoubtedly it is an indispensable loss.. .
    all sympathies with you .. .Recommend

  • Ovais Riaz

    @Ameer Hamza:

    Walaikumusalam, Yes Hamza I do remember you buddy!Recommend

  • Umer

    Yes that’s very sad may allah grant her a high place in jannah. But millions of peoples mothers die everyday, so I don’t see why ET published ur very personal entryRecommend

  • http://twitter.com/#!/Pugnate Noman Ansari

    @Ammar:

    In short, they have two different meanings in the contexts of those two sentences. In long… If you don’t get it, I can’t be bothered to explain. Recommend

  • SaQiB

    Heart-shattering article…………. my her soul rest in eternal peace forever, ameen!Recommend

  • Fatima Qayyum

    yes indeed these are facts of life. whenever we leave pakistan i always say Allah hafiz to my parents as if this is the last time. i pray this to be not true but somewhere in my mind iam prepared.
    we all want to get out of pakistan, its true there are hand pick people who have the resource4s but never really tried to go foreign. majority like me thinks life is better outside. wallah had i been offered job in pakistan i will opt to live here because there is no place like Pakistan, provided you have funds to live a life.Recommend

  • http://[email protected] QuantGuy

    @Noman Ansari:

    Your comments deserve a thumbs down, I wish there was a button to do that in ET.

    Of course, his migrtation to the US had no relation with the death of his mother. The point he is trying to make is simple: by staying in pk he would have been able to spend more time with his mother…and that means a lot. One would only know the value of living with parents when they are gone or if you are staying in another geography..

    Some of the comments here are disgusting to say the leastRecommend

  • Tajdar Ahmed Hashmi

    I think you left the country so that you could find yourself better avenues to provide a better living to your parents back home in Pakistan, but that didnt work out in the end. It would have been way better had you have stayed back, earned less but have enjoyed the blessings and presence of your mom.

    In the pursuit of worldly desires, we become so selfish and materialistic that we work really hard in justifying our worldly gains. The decision would have been really simple if the two available options were Family and US, the former would have been the obvious choice.

    People die in every part of the world, and same holds true for Pakistan. Moving to a developed country will not make you immortal.

    This country needs us and we shall realize this before its too late. My brother come back to Pakistan you still have your father and sister to make up for the loss of your beloved mother. May her departed soul rests in peace for eternity. amen.Recommend

  • Nwaq

    May Allah rest her soul in peace.That is the price one has to pay when he is settling abroad for good.Another price is loss of identity and religion for kids.we must keep these points when we are thinking of having quality life abroad.Recommend

  • http://sunilgoswami.blogspot.com Sunny

    I am sorry for your loss. Living in the UK, I can understand exactly what you are feeling. Any time either of my parents even had a cold I used to get really terrified. Then last year I lost my father while I was here thousands of miles away so I can understand how you feel. I just hope you get the strength to cope with this huge loss and find comfort in your family. Amen!Recommend

  • http://theopinionista.com The Opinionista

    @PostMan:

    What an insensitive comment. Can’t believe 112 people have “liked” the comment.

    It is not selfish to want to move abroad for a better life for yourselves and your loved ones and too have your contribution to society valued when it isn’t in your homeland or place of origin.

    My origin is Pakistani, my husband’s origin is Algerian. Thanks to the corruption and lawlessness in both of our countries of origin, our families are scattered all across the globe…and it’s sad…because we are always away from our loved ones wherever we are.

    What Ovais Riaz is writing about here is by no means a unique feeling (the guilt) however I feel that Pakistani society in general has emotional blackmail down to a tee. My parents’ generation has very little tolerance for the individualism of their children. Most Pakistani elders I know do not do anything sufficient to look after their health. Going for “walks” and doing “parhaiz” is not enough. I don’t know a single Pakistani elder in my parents’ friendship circle that runs or does any sort of strenuous health and fitness activity.

    Pakistani elders are largely inactive and have bad diets. Our food is overcooked and greasy and most Pakistani elders think it’s perfectly normal to infantalise oneself and become a needy burden for children in old age instead of having the desire for their children to live full lives. Pakistani elders are (by and large) not mature and responsible for their health and this puts a burden on their children. If anything, I think THIS is selfish. What could be worse than preventing a human being from living a full life just because you didn’t bother to take responsibility for your own health?

    I’m not saying that this is the case regarding Ovais’ mum, but I am saying that there are many ways of prolonging our lives or avoiding the most common causes of death among Pakistanis by making health and fitness a way of life. Ovais did not ask to be born, his parents chose to have him. We are not born to spend our most productive years of adulthood looking after our parents who did not have the maturity to care for their own health, who did not exercise, who did not eat well, who were not active. We should not be guilted into anything. We are born to contribute to society as a whole, not just look after our nearest and dearest. If we’re all busy looking after our parents, how exactly can we contribute to society?

    If it happens that my parents get sick, I will do whatever I can, but this doesn’t mean that I absolve them of their responsibility for their own health. They both did an atrocious job and I know that in the end, I will be paying the price for it (I have no siblings).

    Ovais’ heart is clearly in the right place, just, life happened and he should not feel guilty for that.

    When people want to leave a country where corruption, nepotism and sexual violence are rife, where freedom of thought is supressed and someone will kill you for $5, I don’t think that this is selfishness, it’s pure, unadulterated common sense.Recommend

  • http://theopinionista.com The Opinionista

    @Ameer Hamza:

    “It’s just that we receive much worse press than lot of other countries”

    Wow, that’s a naively optimistic statement if there ever was one. There are nowhere near as many opportunities for a dignified existence and decent standard of living in Pakistan as there are in the US, Canada, UK etc.

    In Pakistan, living comfortably means either working yourself to the bone and having zero time with your loved ones or succumbing to corruption.

    Why should people like Ovais go back to a country with more inequality, more nepotism, more lawlessness and less opportunities? Ovais and many others have it good in the West. They are valued there. Nothing is of value in Halalistan. People are murdered for freedom of speech. In a country where people cannot think and speak freely, how can we expect any progress in expert and academic fields? The issues are corruption, nepotism, education, price of food, violence against women, sexual harassment, healthcare, poverty, unemployment, housing and human rights….yet the hot topics of discussion in Pakistan these days revolve around the modesty of women! Pakistan is one of the last places on earth I would wish to live as it is in its current state.Recommend

  • Ahmed HM

    Sorry to hear that … May Allah bless her soul !
    I am making a similar decision this August, I am the only son and earning really well outside Pakistan. But I feel something has always been missing, my dad has also been living abroad and my mom is in Pakistan for the past 10 years with my sisters.

    After reading your article, my fear of going back to Pakistan has simply gone. Thanks for that !

    One thing I am sure about you … after moving to the US, you must have felt that the priorities have changed, you must have gained a few things but losses are always there. Priorities change with time … maybe you will feel something when you would be looking for your son in laws !Recommend

  • Ahmed HM

    @The Opinionista:

    I disagree with you. I don’t care whether our lives are long or short. I don’t care if we eat healthy food or greasy non sense. I don’t care what you care.
    I am about to make a similar decision and this article really helped me in understanding a lot of things. And I don’t care what are going to be the results.

    When I was small, my family would sit together on one table and my dad used to say that one day we will remember all of it. Now even when I have my loving wife, I still miss that time a lot.

    Life is not just about going out and finding opportunities. Life is about sacrifice, some moments cannot be bought. I would love to serve my parents, and even my parents in laws.

    When people want to leave a country where corruption, nepotism and sexual violence are rife, where freedom of thought is supressed and someone will kill you for $5, I don’t think that this is selfishness, it’s pure, unadulterated common sense.

    Well, Pakistan is definitely not for you lady. In fact, people with negativity as yours and lack of patience is one of the factors of the country’s demise. Pakistan is still a heaven for me, it will always be a heave for me InshaALLAH. I have firm faith that situation in Pakistan will improve …Recommend

  • Shahbaz Younis

    I feel very sorry for your loss, while reading ur blog tears come out of my eyes, I love my mother very much she is 50 plus and suffer with diabetes from pass 7 years. I am away from my mother, and I can feel the pain … its really breath taking moments Recommend

  • Lhri

    @Aseff:
    Alas i have read something sensible here in these comments….Recommend

  • http://Qurango.com amir

    Inna Lillahe Wa Inna Ilayhe Rajiun. Your mom’s wish was to do whatever you did. If you truly loved her, you’d continue your mission and achieve whatever she aspired you to become. That will be a wonderful gift of life to return to your mom, to whom one day you’d meet again with a smile on your own face, nodding that she was RIGHT, so was everyone else!Recommend

  • Benish

    May her soul rest in peace, ameenRecommend

  • RareGold

    Asalaamu alaikum, sorry for your BIG loss but you did not mention about your father then ? He sure would have left alone in so many ways ? Did you move back for him ? What kind of steps you took to save the glass that was half full ? If you did something then good and if you dint dude then I dun think its a good idea to share what you simply lost, and did nothing even after that.Recommend

  • khizer Jalal

    vvvvvv nicely written. a good lesson learntRecommend

  • Vigilant

    It hurts….every day & night for not serving Parents when they needed u mostRecommend

  • FJ

    I am sorry for your loss. Are you still in the US or haved moved back to Pakistan to take care of your aging father? Recommend

  • Usman Chaudhry

    I am an expat and have had been living abroad for the past 6 years. I too dread this call and know someday it will come. The question is not about saving a parent from death. Every person who has come to this world has the pass on some day. The question is whether one can be with their parents, serve them in their time of need and I have to say this question bears heavily on my conscience each waking hour.

    I guess the sad truth is that as a child you can never repay the sacrifice of your parents; who are your only one and true benefactors, support in this World.

    Khair the cycle of life continues soon we shall be on the other side i.e. be parents our selves sacrificing our dreams, comfort and needs for a better future of our children.

    May Allah grant your mother eternal peace and Janaah and you and your family the strength to cope with your grief.Recommend

  • agha

    Reading this article brought tears in my eyes while i was having my first morning coffee in canada, i too am facing the same feelings and anxiety but the only difference is i am a woman who is expected to adjust while going to greener pastures and leaving her loved ones behind, i got married very late by choice but today i constantly think of my niece and nephew who are so dear to me, my dad who is my pillar and my mum who knows me like no one else. My marriage was my own decision but the decision to move across continents is a heavy price im paying as the separation from your loved ones is so painful that no success can be measured against this.Recommend

  • sinnnnb

    Pakistan are so obsessed with Western propaganda that they are ready to leave their loved ones just for the sake of living in a Western country. Shame upon those people who leave their loved ones behind. Recommend

  • Vel

    Sorry to hear about your loss.
    I too hope that one day you shall live with your mother forever. In sha Allah. Remember Lord is the most merciful. Recommend