Special thanks to Hina K. for helping me in carving this story.
Asfand never knew his life would change this much. He did believe that his life would change, but to this extent, never. He was looking at the different pictures on the wall, from his first birthday, to his graduation, to his family. It all seemed like yesterday. He was a 40 year old man now. His wife was the most beautiful woman that he had ever met. His son and daughter were smart, and adorable. Things were never this easy once though. Asfand moved his wheelchair to one of the shelves. He was looking at the books, when he noticed something. It was a book. Then he remembered that it had been a long time since he last saw this book. It wasn’t just an ordinary book, it was something that changed his life, gave him hope, and gave him courage when he needed it the most…
“Don’t cry beta” said Mr. Khawaja to his son Asfand. But Asfand kept on crying. He was shattered from inside; he didn’t know what else to do. He was just a 13 year old kid. “Beta, crying won’t help. We will sort this out, together, okay? You, me, your ammi. All of us together.” said Mr. Khawaja, and patted his son’s back. Asfand looked at his father, his eyes were all red.
Why this has to be this way? thought Asfand. Why are there so many things that don’t even make sense. Too many questions around. I don’t know how to answer them. Help me, God. Often times at night, he would lay awake thinking and his eyes welled up again.
Mr. Khawaja was really worried about his son, Asfand, but he had hope. He always believed that things are bound to become well. His son was born with Cerebral Palsy. Because of an unfortunate accident in his childhood, he had to lose his right arm too. Doctor had assured Mr. Khawaja that his team will try their best to make Asfand’s condition better, but Mr. Khawaja had always kept his son under his very protective wing. Mr. Khawaja was worried, but he knew he had to keep his focus on his son. It was his duty to make sure that his son doesn’t give up.
“Hey champ, what are you doing?” asked Mr. Khawaja. “I am trying to draw something, abbu,” continued Asfand, “but I don’t know how to make it better…”. “Let me tell you something, beta” Mr. Khawaja placed his hand on Asfand’s shoulder, and continued “Always do what your heart tells you to do, and let nothing stop you. You see beta, world is filled with a lot of negative things. Things, that will try their best to bring you down and make you feel worthless. But remember, it’s you who is in charge, not those things. I know what you’re going through son, and remember this. No matter what, we will be with you. Do not lose hope. Losing hope won’t do any good.” Asfand was listening to his dad very closely. Mr. Khawaja then took out something from the bag that he was holding. It looked like a book. He handed it to Asfand, and said “When I was of your age, my dad used to buy me books as often as he could. He loved reading. One day, he handed me a book. That book wasn’t just a book, beta, it was a diary. My dad used to be a soldier once, and was involved in different wars. This diary he gave me made me what I am. When my dad died, my world suddenly changed. But I never lost hope. I remembered all the good advice he gave me. I read about his experiences. My dad was still with me, in the form of words, memories and thoughts.” Mr. Khawaja continued, “This is the same diary, Asfand. He gave it to me when I was 13. Though it might be just experiences, but its simplicity will hold you, and make you feel better. It will give you wings.”
Asfand came out of his memories. What a brilliant moment that was. A moment which shaped his entire existence. Soon after that his treatment began. It took some time, but soon he was able to feel. Due to the nature of his treatment, he was mostly unable to go out on a regular basis, but when his condition started getting better, that too at a very steady pace, he was allowed to go out on his wheelchair. Mr. and Mrs. Khawaja wanted their son to feel better, and so they made sure that everything is taken care of. During the whole period Asfand developed a habit of reading books. He found the stories amazing. He loved how he could travel the whole world, by just reading. Asfand’s condition kept getting better. There were some little periods where his condition got a bit critical, but it was all temporary. Doctors were hopeful too. Time passed quickly. Once Asfand’s treatment ended, he resumed his education. His love for books was strong now, and this inspired him to write stories. He started with little, simple stories. And as he grew older, so did his stories.
“Asfand, it’s your agent. He’s asking about your upcoming book” said Asfand’s wife, who was standing beside the door.
Asfand was out of his memories, and he was still smiling. “Just a moment” he said. There was a point in his life, when he was without any hope. His dad, his mom, gave him hope, to never give up. Once he considered his condition a disability, now he thinks that it never stopped him from being what he is now. A book changed his life. He’s a successful writer now, and he tries his best to give people hope. He had faith in God, and determination to dream. He smiled, again, and started moving towards the door.
Note: This is a work of fiction by @ImZeesh, and any resemblance found with real-life characters or events, is completely coincidental. He also blogs at “I Am Zeeshan“. Read more about Cerebral Palsy here.