The fragrance of true love: The scent from my Baba’s clothes…

By Mashal Hassan Sahibzada

Note: It’s a bone-chilling story of a daughter who lost her father allegedly due to negligence and incompetence of management and staff at Islamabad’s ‘MAROOF INTERNATIOAL HOSPITAL’

I stood there watching him, laying in that ICU bed oxygenated to help him breathe and ease his suffering. Although my heart was breaking in so many different ways unknown to me, my mind clogged with fear and pain of seeing the suffering of the man who was a source of my strength in this world.

That sinking feeling in my heart was making my mind numb. I kept repeating to myself in my head that I have to be strong for him, he needs me to be strong, and he needs to know that his little girl was there for him.

It was Sunday 8th of March around eight o’clock in the morning when my mother woke me up and told me that Baba’s condition was deteriorating and we need to take him to the hospital immediately. Baba rebuked my mother as soon as he saw me awake telling her that she should not have disturbed my sleep.

Baba was having trouble breathing at the time and had a stomach ache. I hastily drove him to Maroof International Hospital’s emergency at 8:15 am where the on duty doctor examined him and decided to admit him. Several tests were done, everything came out normal, yet Baba was constantly had difficulty in breathing.

The doctor gave him two drips to reduce the gastric pain. During this time, I repeatedly asked Dr. Ibad to do something about his difficulty in breathing. They decided to do the ECG, once the first ECG was done, the doctor examined the results and declared them normal, yet he was constantly struggling to breathe properly. I could not understand why the doctor was unable to detect the reason behind his condition which was deteriorating fast even while they were trying to diagnose him.

The doctor decided to do an X-ray of the abdomen during which Baba’s condition worsened. This is when the doctor sort of realized that there was something serious wrong with him.

Once Baba’s blood report came in the on duty doctor did an ECG again. The doctor told me that he had a mild heart attack and he needs to be shifted to the ICU.

Doctor Ibad knew he had a heart attack but seemed clueless what to do next. The cardiologist was called but he wasn’t available. In the meanwhile his breathlessness kept worsening. Almost two hours had passed by now and it was 10:30 am yet Dr. Ibad was busy with his wife, child and other patients. The cardiologist was on call was still not responding,”—Mashal Hassan Sahibzada

This is when I decided to send my Baba’s reports to all my friends. Dr. Ehtesham who was one of our peers called from United States of America and told us that Baba needed a stent for his heart immediately. According to him he had to go through this procedure immediately as his condition could prove life threatening otherwise. The Doctor on duty was unable to explain when the cardiologist on call will be available as they were contacting him through whatsapp, after seeing no other option left to consider since the on duty cardiologist was not responding he suggested that we should admit baba to CCU.

Dr Ehtesham being a highly experienced cardiologist in USA prescribed Dr Ibad a list of lifesaving drugs over the phone and asked him to give it to Baba immediately, yet ignoring the advice from a highly trained medical professional Dr. Ibad refused to do anything until the cardiologist on call associated with the hospital arrived.

Another couple of hours passed by and Baba’s condition was further deteriorating with every passing minute.

Feeling helpless and out of options we decided to shift Baba to RIC (Rawalpindi Institute of Cardiology). Yet to our shock there was no ambulances available at Maroof ‘International’ Hospital. The receptionist called another hospital and requested them for an ambulance. The ambulance arrived around 45-50 minutes later at 11:30 am from PIMS which is hardly ten minutes away from Maroof Hospital,” Mashal Hassan Sahibzada

RIC was just a mere 25 minutes away from Maroof Hospital. Halfway through our journey we discovered that the stadium road leading to Pindi was blocked by police. It was the shortest route to the hospital, I begged and cried to the police to let us through and that it was a life and death situation yet they refused to give way or understand the seriousness of the circumstances.

This is when, Baba started reciting the Kalma. I could feel my heart stop it was as if I was dying along with him from the inside. Not knowing what else to do to make him feel better or to show him that there is still hope I made him look out of the window. ‘Look baba it is raining, look at the cars moving…’ I so desperately wanted him to hold on a little longer, I wanted him to know we will fight through this and there is still hope, I desperately wanted him to fight a little longer for his life. I begged the driver to speed up. My father was losing his breath, he fell in my arms. I held him close, just the way he always held me tightly yet gently with both my arms. “Just a little longer baba. Don’t give up!” Baba was drenched in sweat, almost unconscious.

It felt we would not be able to reach the hospital in time because the other route was too long and too busy. We arrived at RIC 45 minutes later. Baba was still breathing. I still had hope. They immediately took Baba to the CCU. I stood there looking inside that window of the CCU and cried helplessly, praying and begging Allah to give my Baba a little more time to live.
The doctors tore his shirt and started giving him CPR.

I felt my heart sink, I could only watch him with an utter feeling of helplessness from that window, and it was as if my soul was being squeezed out of my body. I could see from the window he was running out of breath. I begged the doctor from the outside to at least let me speak to my Baba but he refused due to the seriousness of his condition at the time.

They asked me to step away from the window and let them do their work.
What happened inside that CCU ward is still unknown to me. All I remember is that the doctor stepped outside with the news that they tried their best yet my baby was no more.

The excruciating pain running through my veins is beyond explanation, I broke down into so many pieces there and then, he was taken away from me, I still struggle to uphold this thought that what could we have done more to save him?

Was it the negligence of the doctors at Maroof Hospital?
Was it the lack of ethics and professionalism of the on call cardiologist? The lack of resources of the transport system of Maroof Hospital were to blame?
Who has failed him? Could he be alive and among us if this were handled a little more professionally?

Why did the on duty doctors not see the life been sucked out of him as he struggled to breathe?

If they were unable to help, why didn’t they ask us to take him somewhere where he could have a better chance to survive?
Why did they not listen to Dr. Ehtesham’s advice?
Why didn’t they do enough?
Do they even care if someone loses a loved one due to their lack of professionalism and concern?
Will more daughters watch their fathers die while the so called medical professionals who could do the required would stand there and do nothing?

Are road blocks by the law so important that even in such dire circumstances the law makers show no humanity and let people die just because they are instructed with meaningless orders?
Does a human life amounts to nothing in the eyes of the law makers of this country that a man is left dying in an ambulance yet blocking the path to a hospital is more important than someone’s life?

Will he still be alive if we had reached the hospital where the resources to help him were available just a few hours, perhaps a few minutes earlier?
The questions are endless and I am left with no answers but a void in our heart and our soul.

Who will hold me and tell me it will be okay when I am in pain?
What if I trip and fall and my knees gets bruised, when I am crying, where will I find that hug my baba gives me and tell me it will be okay my little princess baba is here for you?

What if I would seek his wisdom to fight the challenges of this cruel, inhumane world, where will I find it?

Who do I turn to when I will need to hear the comfort I felt just in the whisper of his voice? He sheltered and protected me from this vile and evil world. It feels like I am standing under the heat of blazing sun with no shade. The burns from this heat seeps through my skin into my veins burning me inside out.

“He was taken away from me way too early. I feel like I have been left with nothing else but the scent of his clothes which hang in his closet in that empty room which used to be my shelter,”—-Mashal Hassan Sahibzada

His clothes still have his scent though, all I have is my tears which blends and adds to his scent turning it into a fragrance I have never felt before.
Baba was the strongest man I knew yet he always seem to be the weakest when it came to my pain or my tears. I would run into his arms ever since I learned to walk and could see his heart melting away with that overwhelming love he had for me and it always showed from his eyes, his touch and his voice. Even if I would trip or fall while running or playing, the slightest bruised knee would bring tears to his eyes.

He would be comforting me, holding me tightly in his arms telling me it was okay and he is there for me, yet I still remember that look of helplessness in his eyes, the pain far beyond the pain I would be feeling from the bruise or cut.

In that very moment I felt I have grown up years ahead of my time and today my Baba needed me, today I had to be strong for him. Today it was my time to hold him and tell him it will be just fine.
I held his face with both my hands, kissed his forehead and said “My baby will be fine”. I somehow drew the strength and belief to back my words, to show him that I actually meant and believed it although I was praying and wishing so hard from deep inside my soul that it shall be heard by the almighty. That what I was saying to him would turn out to be true.

He looked up at my face and smiled. That last smile. A smile full of pain, hidden in that silence and desolation. The helplessness in his eyes had appeared again. Yet this time it was not from a trip or a fall or a bruised knee of his little girl, this time it was much deeper, As if he knew what was going to happen next. As if he knew that he was parting from the most prized possession God has given him in this world. As if he wanted time to stop and that he could preserve my image in his eyes, in his thoughts forever. As if he knew it was time for him to go.

My relationship with Baba was such that I often affectionately called him “my baby”. A few days ago, I gave him a bowl full of fruits which he refused to eat, I lovingly said, “My baby will finish it right away,” and he not only ate, but proudly showed me the empty bowl. I had that power over him, he gave me that power, and the belief that he would do whatever I would ask him. He often called me “Amma Bibi”. Taking advantage of this I would command and he would obey all I would command with total submission, a submission which only comes as a result of true love. I always knew I was his true love as he is mine. It was his eyes, his touch, his voice which made me feel this purest and truest form of love.

Its a heart-wrenching story written by a daughter who lost her father allegedly due to negligence and incompetence of management and staff at Maroof International Hospital.

Leave a Reply