My mom called me tonight. At first, I thought it would be just another one of her routine phone calls – how are you, how are your grades, are you eating, are you alright, etc. Then she told me something which made my heart feel like a 10 tonne weight, sagging down to the pit of my stomach. Her best friend, the one she grew up on the same street with, went to university with, lost touch for 20 years then reconnected with once again as if nothing had changed, just got diagnosed with cancer.
I didn’t know how to react, I was shocked obviously, I still am, but what I feel borders more on disbelief rather than dismay. I just spoke to Kk, which is what we like to call her, a couple of weeks ago. I remember her sounding weak and complaining of stomach aches and nausea but, living in Pakistan, I relegated that to simply being symptoms of an upset tummy rebelling against an undercooked mutton karahii. I would have never thought the reason would be something as fatal as cancer. Who knew?
I am still flummoxed, I am feeling so much at this moment, that I don’t quite know how to let it out, or who to let it out to; everyone seems to be seeped into their own issues. How do I deal with this, how do I help my mom deal with this? Writing about it helps, and if it weren’t for Kk, I probably wouldn’t even be doing that. Two summers ago, she was the one who read a sample of my writing and told me something I might never have realised on my own, that it had potential, that I had potential, and I could do so much with it. A journalist and writer herself, she encouraged and pushed me into sending my work into Dawn, which became my first published piece of writing. She is the reason I still harbour hope of going somewhere, and achieving something with my writing. Without her encouragement, I would not have thought myself as good enough, skilled enough to be published, and I certainly would not have attempted to actualise into reality my fanciful dreams of being a journalist and a writer.
Kk is my best critic, the one I turn to when I am not sure how to linguistically convey what I want to say. Here’s to hoping she’ll always be there to help me choose the right words.