I started writing creatively in December 2011 to make a sense of my life. My parents got divorced when I was two weeks old. I never met my dad, and when I was in my early twenties, I heard that he died at the age of 44. For years, I tried to answer an impossible question: How would my life have panned out if we were still together? As I grew up, I tried to convince myself that I didn’t need a dad anymore. Except … I was looking for him in family photo albums and dysfunctional relationships. With time, I turned to therapy and other healing approaches. They took the edge off the pain, but that gaping hole in my heart would not close.
So, in December 2011, I decided to have a closure on this father thing. I went to my home town determined to find his grave, say goodbye, and set us both free. My grandmother promised to help but when I got there she said she hadn’t found his whereabouts. Disappointed, I walked to the town centre. Out of blue, I hear my mum’s voice in my head, the words from the distant past:
‘You have an auntie who lives in the town centre. Her name is Tahira.’
Desperate, I went knocking on doors and asking after this woman. An hour later, a man greeted me in his front courtyard and said that indeed there was Tahira in that household. I couldn’t believe my luck. She came out, peered into my eyes and said:
‘You look familiar, but I can’t place you.’
‘That’s because we’ve never met. I’m Nizami’s daughter.’
She did something I hadn’t anticipated. She hugged me and cried tears of joy, saying she was waiting for this day for years. I asked for my dad’s photo, and she took me into the house. I walked in and nearly shot out.