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A Call from a Caged Bird
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A Call from a Caged Bird

How do I tell you that ¬- my life without you has come to a halt? I’ve been breathing all this while, but who will teach me to live again?

Post by on Friday, May 27, 2022

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 As I pore over the poems of Agha Shahid Ali and Mahmud Darwish describing the loss, the sense of exile and subsequent yearning for their home/land, I am reminded of my own loss- the loss that left me in exile and in constant search of my home.

To My Beloved:

They say, “Home is where heart is.”

You were my home. You were my heart.

You left, taking both away from me.

Where do I find my home?

Where do I look for my heart?


Today, two years ago, my most admirable person-my father- bade goodbye to this world. Farewells have never been smooth and easy but very expensive always, especially when it’s too soon for the dearest to depart. I’ve always known words in joy and sadness, love and anger, ecstasy and melancholy, anytime and anywhere. I’ve always been playful with words, and I usually prefer words over silence. They always come to my rescue when I fail to express myself. I love it when they come to me, and I give them life by weaving them into poems. But, when it comes to you, Dad, words fail me every time. I fail to express myself, my heart, my mind- the inner me. I struggle each time I think of writing to you, writing just a few letters that make up your name, or my name that binds me to you, or just a few words, to be specific enough, just three words that make up a complete sentence, laced with myriad emotions, a sentence-that sums up all my feelings for you which I struggle to pour out- that reads, “I Love You. I Miss You.”

I had never imagined my life without you, and the 27th is again here to remind me that it’s been 730 days and 105 Wednesdays in your absence. I know not how I made it this far without you. This was the only thing I found difficult to comprehend and imagine, and today here I’m living it in real. This is what time does to a man. But, not a single day goes by without thinking about you. Life never stopped since you left, but it has never been the same without you. I did not stop living, but your loss has turned me into a breathing corpse. I have heard people say no one dies with the death of someone close to your heart, but it’s been a while now that I don’t concur with this. Death is not merely physical; there’s something more to it and beyond. I am not sure if you know something about ‘Living Dead’, but that’s what your departure has made me. “Bichda  bhi  kuch  iss  tarah  se  ki  mujhe  bikher  kar  chala  gya / Haiy!   Ab main  inn  bikhre  huwe  pannun  ko  samaitun  kaise.” ©


You were my most treasured treasure, and I lost you to something I still can’t take in. Have I really lost you? – the question that never lets me find peace. Buddy, my heart swells on hearing your name, and I feel like anytime it will surely burst when I don’t find you near me; my eyes still keep wandering to get a glimpse of you and then the realization dawns that I won’t have you back. An indescribable feeling! My heart has never stopped mourning your loss. You left when I was not ready to lose you, so the distance that separates us hurts, your absence hurts, the goodbye that we did not get time to bid each other hurts even more and the thought that I still had more time to love you hurts the most. Your absence is soul-sickening. The feeling of emptiness is overwhelming. The smile on my ashen face doesn’t let the tears fall off my eyes now, but they have submerged me from inside. Every single day, my life at every step keeps reminding me and makes me realize how much more I need you now and for all times to come. Your presence made my life colorful and worth living. Without you, rainbows have been rendered insignificant, just that I can feel the darkness creeping in.

Papa! It is said that time heals all wounds. Does it really heal? With each passing day, my wounds bleed even more in your absence as I am reminded of the times we spent together and the beautiful memories we made. My autumn started the day we parted, and I lose you every moment the way trees lose their leaves in fall. Will I ever get over the pain your departure left me in? Will my grief ever go away? Will you ever come back to bring some freshness back to my weary spirit? You were unique in every way that made you genuinely irreplaceable and dearly loved. The existence with you not being a part of my existence is enervating. When my heart is overwhelmed and my soul vexed by the pseudo smiles, I crave your presence, shoulder, and lap to lay my head on, pour my heart out, and let the tears roll down that have been incarcerated for long. I wish letting go were easy and forgetting you and the long-loved moments/memories made together even easier; maybe peace would have been easy to find.

Lately, somebody asked me, “Do we get used to the feeling of missing them or do we actually stop missing them?” And I replied we could never stop missing them. But yes, maybe we get “used to”. The heart never stops beating, but the discomfort that comes with the deadened heart is terrible. The lungs help breathe, but the air feels so toxic that it causes a persistent choking sensation. The silent pain in the bones never ceases to hurt. The reticent tears burn the eyes like a dreadful fire. And when the voices go mute, silence becomes dangerous! Ah! How I wish this feeling of getting used to were easy. Awful!

When somebody asks me about you, I die a million deaths. How would I tell them that you are with me everywhere I go? We made countless memories together but will they suffice to help me make my life easy? You make me smile, but as I realize that being turned into a souvenir in my memory lane, the smile doesn’t take a second to die. I wish to hug our memories so tight that my rib cage fractures, my lungs scream out your name and my heart wrings out through the cracked ribs. I wish to hug our memories and cry till I’m left with no tears to wipe. I wish to keep hugging you through my imagination, for you left me with just memories to thrive on. No matter how far you’re, a part of you that you left with me will stay in my heart till eternity.


How do I tell you that ­- my life without you has come to a halt? I’ve been breathing all this while, but who will teach me to live again? I keep waiting for you in my dreams, but the nights don’t last long? I never stopped laughing hard, but who will get me back the smile you loved, and I lost forever? I lost the spring for all eternity, and the winter feels dreary? I yearn for your warm embrace to get rid of the cold that has penetrated through and through? My bones ache in your absence? My every single drop of blood craves your presence? You made my life beautiful, and I am not strong enough to endure this haunting silence? You left me in an utter mess, and since then, I’ve been struggling to break the strands that have entangled me? Our home is no longer home without you, just a cage where eyes keep constantly looking outside the bars for your mere glimpse? Winter doesn’t go away, and I feel the cold seeping through my bones into my being? I miss being caressed and adored by you?  

I find it very hard to convey to you how much I need you every time, how hard it is to survive this mess called life alone. I wish I could tell you how much does it hurt when you think that the only man who would never - let you fall has left to keep you falling for life and no hand to hold, see you in pain has left you in everlasting pain, see a single drop of a tear falling from the eyes of her daughter has left her teary-eyed for eternity. Even with all the love of the world brought together, the void you left is hard to fill, and the scars are unhealable. There are countless stories buried inside me waiting to be written and narrated to you. Are you still there for me to listen to my never-ending tales? I miss talking to you and sharing with you my ups and downs. I miss you in all the existing moments. I can feel the long distance that separates us. I feel homesick without you. Will this homesickness ever go away?

In all the things we have loved and lived together, I find pieces of you which make my survival a little easy. On the day we parted, I have sown the seeds of your love in my heart which grows stronger with each passing day. “Your love in my heart is spring eternally blooming.” All I need is you to embrace me, my shredded heart, my tired soul, and my deathless thoughts till I learn to breathe again. Will you do it for me? My aching heart will heal only with you; for now, a glimpse too would suffice. All these words are just to bring you home and back to me. I wish whatever I have been writing was just a dream and that I open my eyes to find my head in your lap, your fingers untangling my tresses, while I hear you singing to me our favourite, “Chanda ko doondhne sabhi tare nikal padhey, Galliyun me wo naseeb k mare nikal padhe.”

Despite everything, I never let my faith in Allah (SWT) waver because the Master Planner already knows what’s best for us. The way you left me aching should have made me go crazy in your absence. It gets unendurable most of the time, but now I’ve even learnt to gulp down the tears that would have brought down skies. Sometimes I feel proud of myself for how I’m doing and surviving all this. This is only because the One who took you away from me places His hand on my heart, consoles me and says, “Parting is a way to reunion”- the only thing that keeps me going. I keep counting every moment till we’re united again.

For all the moments gone by in your absence, for all the moments that are yet to come, for every hour, every minute and every second, even for all those intervals between seconds, and right at the present moment, I Miss You. 

“When your absence weighs me down,

I look up at the sky and

Talk to the moon about you.

The moon lulls me to sleep

With her lullaby and

Brings me closer to you.”©


With all my bruised heart,

I Love You, Papa


(The Author is a writer and can be reached on: tubahshah07@gmail.com)

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