The day we met my life has changed for good. Every single detail of our meeting is etched into my memory. I was visiting my grandma in our home town. The atmosphere in the house was heavy.
Grandma let me down again.
She promised to find my dad’s grave. It was only when I arrived into the house, she said she couldn’t. I was so angry, I could hardly breathe. I was counting on her. My desire to let go of the past rested on seeing his photo and finding my peace on his grave.
Disappointed, I decided to go into town. I had no plans of seeking you out that day. It was only when I was in the city centre I remembered mum’s words:
‘Your auntie lives near univermag. Her name is Tahira.’
She said it a long time ago, but as I was passing near the univermag, the local department store, the words re-surfaced from my subconscious. On an impulse, I went and started knocking at the doors and asking strangers whether they knew a woman called Tahira.
Eventually, I found your house. It was a miracle. I was nervous, wondering what you might think of me. While I was waiting for you in the yard, I critically scrutinised my dusty shoes, thick socks and an old black dress I was wearing under my coat. I had no grand family-reunion plans. In fact, I didn’t even bother to change my clothes when I left the house.
‘You look so familiar,’ you said peering into my face, ‘but I can’t recognise you.’
‘That’s because we’ve never met. I’m Gulara, your brother Nizami’s daughter. I just want his photo,’ I added hastily in case you got worried why I appeared after all those years.
You hugged me and cried. To my surprise, you said you’ve been waiting for me for years. You invited me in. Inside, more love poured over me.
I walked into your 58th birthday celebration.
Your four children, grandchildren, cousins, friends, relatives – all 30-40 of them – showered me with love, love which filled up all the cracks and holes left by not having a father in my life.
I’m so grateful and blessed to have you in my life. I had no idea how nice it is to have an auntie.
Ever since we met, you are the first to send me celebratory messages. Your voice messages keep me up to date with your life. You ask after me and my family. I feel your desire to help, even from far away.
Thank you for all this love. I love you very much too.