A letter from Copenhagen—-Ali Sadpara and my father (part I)

By Dr. Fozia Kamran Cheema

Dr. Fozia Cheema is a pain management physiotherapist at Copenhagen University Hospital, Copenhagen Denmark.
Dr. Fozia Kamran Cheema is a pain management physiotherapist at Copenhagen University Hospital, Copenhagen Denmark.

Two weeks back I was one of them, who were criticizing Ali Sadpara and his team for taking the decision to conquer the K.2 in the winter season.
My opinion was, that it was stupid and suicidal. You cannot just go out and start executing every thought that comes into your mind. There is a limit for everything.
I could not see the practicality in that. I was angry that so many resources were being wasted on something which could have been thoroughly avoided.
I think it was Monday or Tuesday last week, and I was sitting in my warm house while minus -11 Celsius degrees outside, after having a meaningful day at my job wherein a conference with top specialists, I was treated with respect and as a human being with a brain and not just as a woman, suddenly I yet again remembered my father.
My father was not adventurous, not at all, but he was revolutionary and a big dreamer. He was the one who was mocked and made fun of. People said he and his crazy decisions were meaningless and wrong.

My father conquered the Mount Everest and K-2 of the society, so I can one day walk on smoother roads. Ali Sadpara was doing the same, smoothing the impossible tracks of K.2 for generations of dreamers to come. That is what dreamers do

Growing up with four sisters, I had a childhood full of negative sentences like, ”5 larkay hotay aur 2,2 rupaiy bhe kama kar latay to sham tak 10 rupaiy ho jatay,in larkiown ko parha kar sirf zilat he milay ge” (if there were five boys, and every one of them was earning only to two rupees, then by the evening it will be 10 rupees, these girls education will only bring insult to the family)
My father ignored everyone with a smile and was the first in the family to send us to good schools, first to send my eldest sister to medical college, allow my second elder sister to study engineering, first in the family who allowed us haircut, to dress the way we wanted to and the very first to send my sister for higher education abroad. And above all, he was the first who never treated us like his boys. He gave us respect as girls. He was the first to forgive every stupid mistake we made and when we were busy proving society could be right in every possible way, he instead of marrying us to the random guys gave us second third and limitless options.

I knew that Ali Sadpara was also a dreamer, and dreamers do not care about the weather, society, and any other obstacle

He clapped for our victories. He stood waiting for us in heavy rains outside our examination centers, he waited for us sitting on warm stairs under almost 40 degrees Celsius in front of our tuition centers, yet he never called us his putter’s(sons). He took pride in his crazy dreams and somehow believed that his daughters can achieve everything even being girls. And when people in society were making fun “kah larkiown ko sar par charha lia hay,kal ko maza chakahin ge isay” (he is spoiling his daughters, he will regret in future ), my father continued to dream big and unique.
And right there I knew that Ali Sadpara was also a dreamer, and dreamers do not care about the weather, society, and any other obstacle. First, they dream, then they dream big, and then like Ali Sadpara they dream impossible, and do you know why? so the rest of us can sit in front of our warm fireplaces and enjoy life, even though it is minus 11 Celsius outside.
My father conquered the Mount Everest and K-2 of the society, so I can one day walk on smoother roads. Ali Sadpara was doing the same, smoothing the impossible tracks of K.2 for generations of dreamers to come. That is what dreamers do. They ignore society, they are least bothered about the weather and other’s opinions, they break the taboos. And they just simply cannot wait for springs and summers to come. They do not need greener grass, running waters, and shining sun. They somehow know it is now or never.
These people are weird in a quite different way, they dream the most difficult crazy dreams and people cannot understand their manuals.
My father, a man who was born in a remote village “chak kala” in a “Jat” family where girls were forbidden to see the fresh air, dreamed something crazy, which resulted in that my daughter today plays the most beautiful notes on the violin. And because Muhammad Ali Sadpara, a porter from Pakistan dreamed to become the biggest mountaineer and conquer K-2 at -60 degree Celsius with winds blowing at 250 kilometers per hour, there will Insha’Allah come a day.A fine freezing day when one of his fellow dreamers from a remote village in Pakistan will conquer the K-2 in winter and will maybe playing violin there, I wish it to be the Pakistani national anthem.

While I was cleaning, I saw for the first time my father feet, “aik mazdoor kah paown thay wo”(These were feet of a labourer)— very very rough, full of wrinkles and small bruises, and every wrinkle telling me how hard his life was, every bruise was telling a story.

I am so ashamed now to judge Ali Sadpara and his team. People who take risks and people who do not want to live an ordinary comfy life are always assumed as crazy by their fellow human beings, as insane, but those are the people who can see things behind the walls and who come out of their comfort level and make their own life difficult for the comfort of generations to come.

Why did I not notice my father’s feet when he was living? Why did I not buy an expensive but even an ordinary cold cream for him? Why did I not kiss his feet every day and night? Why did I not massage his tired feet even once in his life?

Society only understands them after they are gone. In their life all they get is criticism and, mostly they are unknown to the world. I am ashamed I never heard of Ali Sadpara before, where was I when he conquered Nanga Parbat? I never read a single word about him when he conquered K.2 in summer. How strange is that I never ever heard his name before, ever.
When my father was on his death bed and a nurse was cleaning him with utmost cruelty. And I finally could not bear that and said to her,” take a nap, I will do it by myself”. And while I was cleaning, I saw for the first time my father feet, “aik mazdoor kah paown thay wo” (These were feet of a labourer)— very very rough, full of wrinkles and small bruises, and every wrinkle telling me how hard his life was, every bruise was telling a story.

Why did I not notice my father’s feet when he was living? Why did I not buy an expensive but even an ordinary cold cream for him?
Why did I not kiss his feet every day and night? Why did I not massage his tired feet even once in his life?
Why I never said, “abu jee ap ka shukria” (thank you father) to him ever?
Why I thought I have a lot of time to say all that.
As we are busy in our ordinary comfortable lives while dreamers left us before we even expect, they just left us in utmost regret and shame.
They don’t give us a chance to say goodbye, to say thank you— Just like they know many other things, they also know that we ordinary people cannot recognize them, we can’t understand the fire which is burning in their hearts and in in their eyes, we cannot figure the beauty of their craziness, we can’t appreciate them, but they do their part anyway.
But this time Allah has given a chance, a second chance which is rare. Ali Sadpara is gone, but Sajid Sadpara is among us, another dreamer like his father. Let’s celebrate him, let’s salute him, as he can still wave back. Let us help him as he wants to fulfill his father’s dreams of building a climbing school. Let us cherish him and all the other dreamers when they can still hear us. Let us appreciate them, while they are still breathing. Let us light candles with them and not for them.
Salute to my father and salute to Muhammad Ali Sadpara and his team, to Sajid Sadpara and to every other revolutionary dreamer for making the roads smooth for many to come and ignoring everyone who thinks they are stupid and suicidal, their only wish is to make this world better, and I have not seen any of them fail. They always succeed somehow or anyhow. They set their footprints, and sometimes at the cost of their lives.