A Letter from Copenhagen: The Healing Power of Grieving Hearts


By Dr. Fozia Kamran Cheema

Dr Fozia Kamran Cheema
Dr Fozia Kamran Cheema

Do you believe in the power of positivity, coincidences, and telepathic connections?
Read this letter no matter your answer is Yes or No. If you are already a believer and accept “Yes”, you will be relating with some parts of it. And there are some serious chances of you choosing” Yes” if you believe “No”.

I first heard of Arfa Karim, when Tusbeeha (my elder daughter) was few months old. I fell immediately in love with Arfa. Like every other mother, I wished my daughter to be like Arfa, not because she was the youngest Microsoft professional (MCP), but due to her beautiful infectious smile, her manners, her down-to-earth attitude, and her positivity. I dreamed that one-day Tusbeeha will grow up like her.

On January 14, 2012, when Arfa lost her battle against death. I was heartbroken, I was devastated and most of all, due to the selfishness of human nature, I was worried that her parents might never come on television again and I might lose all that telepathic energy, I desperately needed in my very own daughter’s fight.

I used to watch Arfa Karim’s interviews along with my father, and I remember we used to talk about Arfa’s parents. We both agreed that there was something special about them. My father talked about her father’s off the society efforts for her little daughter, and I always interrupted him telling, how graceful and poised Afra’s mother is (was). But we never talked about how they both were together.

Listening to them was like watching a beautiful game of tennis doubles, where both team partners without interruption or saying a word to each other knew what to do when to run when to stop, and when to pass the ball. There always was a rhythm in their sentences.

Then I shifted abroad, and life changed completely, but those memories of Arfa Karim’s parents remained with me, flashing back and forth whenever I was struggling with parenting.

As winters never treated me well, once again on a snowy winter day, I got terrible news about my little daughter Fatima. Doctors told me that she might never be able to speak or go to a normal school. No hope, no cure, no time for preparation, nothing at all. Just like that, one day I got a paper where a diagnosis was written with bold letters” Mental retarderede” (mentally retarded). I was shaken and broken, and nothing can explain the terrible pain I experienced at that time. Mentally retard was no more a word to me, it became a snack and every night it strangled my neck and made me suffocate but did not let me die. My already sleepless nights turned into no sleep at all.

What exactly was the time when Arfa got admitted to the hospital. I did not know how, but it became a ritual for me to listen to Arfa Karim’s parents, every night. Somehow or other every time they talked; telepathic energy was transformed into me which kept me going. Arfa’s parents were still as poised and as determined as to when their daughter was smiling and achieving the world. Though this time listening to them was not like watching a tennis game, more like listening to a beautiful symphony on the orchestra, sad and heartbreaking but with the same height of coordination and perfection, a silent agreement of when to play and when to stop was not changed at all.

As I was overly attached to my father, Arfa’s father affected me the most. Every night after listening to him on YouTube as many times as I could, somehow helped me that I stopped listening to everyone else during the day times.

People used to laugh at me when I was knocking on every single door, I could possibly knock to get help for my daughter. “You have to accept it Fozia, it is not going to change” was the advice from everyone. I just isolated myself in a little bubble of positivity and never gave up.

On January 14, 2012, when Arfa lost her battle against death. I was heartbroken, I was devastated and most of all, due to the selfishness of human nature, I was worried that her parents might never come on television again and I might lose all that telepathic energy, I desperately needed in my very own daughter’s fight.

Lucky for me that they gave an interview after the departure of their precious daughter. I cannot remember the exact date, but I think it was on her birthday.

Even though that was what I wished the most for my own sanity, their appearance on television became a big mystery for me. How they still maintained that beautiful synchronization in their tones and their sentences? How were they able to talk with so much pain in their grieving hearts? I was astonished to see their sabr (patience), losing a daughter and losing a daughter like Arfa, how were they able to breathe? How did they manage to come out of their beds and show up for that interview that day? I do not know how they did it, but their resilience and their choice of showing up in that interview on Arfa’s birthday after she died, made me a fighter for four more years.

That mystery remained unsolved until my older daughter after an epileptic brain surgery went into a coma. I already had experienced the pain of having a sick child. But this time it was different, it was not pain, it was more like agony or misery, seeing your daughter hanging between life and death was an experience of being boiled in hot burning oil and feeling it in every cell of your body.

Everything was in slow motion, faces of disappointed doctors talking to each other in low voices, the withered face of my pale daughter neither reacting to my screams nor to hundred different kinds of needles. And when I was running back and forth in corridors trading with Allah Subhan a tala and arguing with doctors and nurses, I suddenly remembered another night. A night when I was 27 years old and woke up because I had pain in my left arm. I ran to my father saying” abu bazo main bohat dard ho raha hay “(Father I am feeling acute pain in my arm). My father said we must go to the doctor. My father could not drive, we went out and there was not a lot of traffic. Only both of us waiting for transport. A rickshaw with some passengers came and did not stop. And I saw my 70 years old father running like 15 years old after Rickshaw “bhai ruko ,bhai ruko ,ham nain hospital jana hay (Stop please we need to go to hospital)“ that rickshaw did not stop and neither did many others. But that night I saw my father running like crazy after every vehicle on the road, every motorcycle, every car …My father did not get a chance of doing Haj and Umrah, but I believe that he had done his “Sai” in that cold autumn night. Pain in my arm was just muscular pain.

With that memory, after many years my myth about Arfa’s parents giving an interview not exceedingly long after Arfa was left, solved.

My daughter came out of the coma that day, Arfa Karim did not five years ago.

And I realized that fighting for a child who is mentally retard is difficult but possible. Your child still rewards you with hugs and kisses, smiles at you, so fighting for a sick child does not make you extraordinary, as you do not have a choice other than fighting.

Fighting for a child who is in a coma does not make you extraordinary either, because your child is still breathing and there is still hope. That is what parents do, even animals do the same when their offspring are in danger.

It is how we fight the battle that makes the difference.

Do we choose to scream and argue, or do we tirelessly run after rickshaws make the difference?

Do we, like my husband choose to go to the prayer room and sit there silently and not face anyone but Allah, or do we choose to come on television giving hope to another crying mother in Denmark to fight her fight?——- draws the line.

Do we hide or do we seek, that is what creates the difference, for us and for the many to come. But whatever we do and no matter how we select to act and react, it only makes us special but still not extraordinary.

Fighting for your breathing child and trying to go barefooted on thrones to keep that child living is ordinary, it makes you special but still not exceptional.

Fighting for your deceased daughter and keeping her alive in the hearts of millions every single day is on the other hand is extraordinary. When you know, you will never be able to hug her again, you will never hear her voice again, you will never see her smile, the only thing you are left with are her memories, but you choose not to give up, makes you exceptional.

Dreaming big dreams for your children and doing whatever you can, so they can fulfill their dreams does not make you extraordinary, keep on dreaming and working for those bunch of dreams, your daughter once dreamt makes you extraordinary.

Shukar(gratitude) when you get the life of your dying daughter back is not extraordinary, shukar when your prayers are not answered the way you wanted, and when your trading with Allah did not go the way as expected,—is extraordinary.

Accepting the unexpected with patience is extraordinary. Seeing the world with your heart is extraordinary.

Choices you make in the darkest of the days, and the resilience you show, so others can grow are extraordinary.

Praying to keep your living child alive is ordinary, struggling to keep your departed one alive is extraordinary.

When memories are blurring and beloved is gone, keeping those memories living is extraordinary.

I started this story with telepathy and the power of positivity and coincidences, and you might wonder what that was about. Last month I wrote something about my father on my FB and received a call from a person, I never even dreamed of.

A person from whom I extracted energy to fight my battles many times in my life ….Arfa Karim’s father. What a beautiful, unique coincidence. And what are the odds of him reading my Facebook post and that too about my father? He told me about the resemblance between his father and my father. We talked and we cried as we both remembered our remarkable fathers. I do not know about him, but I was surprised to know that there was also another person exactly like my father who also fought the odds of the society because he loved his daughters as immensely as my father did.

I now know, why in the whole world of scholars and mentors and peoples to influence, I used to listen to Arfa’s fathers’ interviews on dark cold agony filled nights. Because Amjad Karim Randhawa was raised by Ch Abdul Karim Randhawa, a dreamer like my father, a taboo breaker, who dreamed big for his daughters, for their education, and for the generations of little girls to come.

I now often see with eyes of my heart, Abdul Karim Randhawa, and my father, sitting in Jannah, eating most delicious melons, smiling peacefully and my father giving Randhawa sahib a pat on the back and saying,” Chuhdaray sahib, main tay sirf Kurian parha kah aya se, tusi tah naslan sanwar kah aa gaiy ho, tusi dunya wich kyuoon nahen milay main noo”(Chaudhary sir, I only educated my daughters, you, on the other hand, did a difference for generations . I wish I would have met you on the other side)

I never met Abdul Karim Randhawa but I can clearly hear him answering,” koi gul nahen Cheema sahib,deewa tusi we bal aiy ho, deewa main we bal aya wan,nika howay ya wada,deewa chanan ee karda aiy”(Does not matter Cheema sir, I lightened a lantern, so did you, tiny or tall it only spreads the light)

Salute to Abdul Karim Randhawa and my father to fight the anomalous norms of the society to make their living daughters’ dreams come true. And even bigger Salute to Arfa’s father for fighting every day with his grieving heart, yet with a smile on his face, to make her departed daughter and millions of other dreams come true.

Note: Dr. Fozia Kamran Cheema is a pain management physiotherapist at Copenhagen University Hospital, Copenhagen Denmark. She can be contacted at her email at Fozia1@live.dk Her Twitter is @ZayaFo
Central Desk
Central News Desk.

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