Be my strength
The words that he had been inculcated in my mind for the last two years, became my strength. I gained strength not to shed a single tear and to face everything with dignity, as he had desired. I wondered where that immature lady had gone as every mirror was reflecting the iron lady of an immortal hero. I am strong, I am strong! I didn’t cry.
How could I cry when my beloved kept on fighting with his right hand injured and later, jumped on the grenade, saving the life of his soldiers? How could I mourn when my beloved breathed his last reciting Kalmah, repeatedly?
How could I, when his fresh blood kept on oozing out even after 36 hours in the mortuary, and tears rolled down his eyes when I started talking to him? Indeed, alive. I was introduced to the most blessed and honourable family, The Shuhada Family. What else can one wish for?
Shahadat is the utmost desire of every soldier and very few are selected by Allah for this matchless bounty. I have great respect for all soldiers who sacrificed their lives in defending the motherland and maintaining peace in our country. Undoubtedly, Major Ishaq Shaheed is one of the chosen ones.
His shahadat has made him immortal as the Holy Qur’an ordains in Sūrat Al-Baqarah (2:154);
“Say not of those who die in the way of Allah, they are dead, nay, they are living, though you perceive (it) not.”
Notwithstanding the pride and honour that comes to the family of a Shaheed, his absence is always felt by them. That picture of him smiling was shared by thousands across Pakistan. But we feel his absence on a daily basis, and it will continue like this for years to come. He cannot be replaced.
We were posted to Dera Ismail Khan. For 11 months, every goodbye seemed to be the last one. Every night was a fearful night casting worst case scenarios in my mind. On November 21, 2017 around 11 p.m., my one-year-old daughter, Fatima Ishaq started crying in her sleep and was calmed only after hearing the word Baba.
This was the time when Major Ishaq embraced what he had lived for, when the nightmare I saw 10 months ago, became the reality of my life, when the last goodbye became the first hello, I would say it was a soul swap, because of the resilience I gained after this incident. His valour and gallantry gave me strength to endure this massive loss. At that moment I decided to wear his aims, his vision. I applied for Army Medical Corps (AMC) and all praise be to the Almighty, I had my wish granted and got inducted. During the 6 months’ training, wearing the same khaki, the same black boots, and especially, his Camouflage, Concealment and Deception (CCD) uniform, his tuck-ins, was not that easy. Memories make it emotional. But Alhumdulillah, I did it. There is always someone who looks after us from behind the curtain. That first round fired from the G3 rifle was no less than a dream. That best shooter award was an answer to the enemy that our sacrifices shall not go in vain.
I repeat the words of President Ayub Khan from the 1965 war address: “Dushman ko yeh maaloom nahi keh us ne kis qoam ko lalkaara hai”
A year has passed but when I look in the mirror, I see Major Ishaq Shaheed standing there with much pride and honour. Today, I am Captain Ayesha but I want to be always remembered as the wife of Major Ishaq Shaheed — proud wife of a brave soldier! And I am looking forward to serve my country to the best of my potential.
We must do something great for our loved ones, something they used to like, something they wanted to accomplish! Make a corner in the house with all the pictures and medals to keep the memory alive for everyone and talk about them. Yes, it is hard to talk without tears but they are a part of our lives. They are the ones who have surrendered to the will of the Almighty. Once they were particles of light, now they are the radiant sun. They are watching over us with pride. Major Ishaq Shaheed and all the other martyrs have played their role, now it is our duty to continue their mission. We must follow in their footsteps. We should be honest and upright to the core, holding impeccable moral standards and discipline. I conclude with what Major Ishaq Shaheed asked me to convey if he embraced shahadat:
He did his part, I will do mine. Pakistan is our motherland and our identity. No one can defeat us.HH
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