Mother, Father and Work : Covid -19
Business ... as usual
"What do these guys really do?", " arent these folks the ones good with drawing boxes?". Early meetings that the Enterprise Architecture team was part of, were riddled with unclear expectations, and pre-conceived notions, which meant the value that we deliver isn't communicated, and hence the critical collaboration and support needed from dependent stakeholders would fail to materialize. Management was concerned, the team was worried, there were some frustrations, in scientific terms ... not good.
EA Practice was extensively utilized for developing the Digital Transformation Strategy, and it's been set as one of the governing factors to ensure the success of the strategy. Even though that being the case, not all of our key stakeholders were sure as to what the newly setup department would do, and what we should best do to deliver value for stakeholders.
Thus the EA executive survey was formulated, as to what EA can offer, and what our esteemed stakeholders would find more valuable, draft list was made, filtered, made its Arabic version and floated, as we waited for the results to start roll in.
"Uppa(Father), will not make it to Thursday", it was brother, both he and sister were having covid-19, in quarantine, with symptoms. Uppa was admitted to one hospital, having cancer and covid-19 positive, Umma(mother) in another hospital, tested positive, with severe symptoms.
Emergency ... unfolding
Apprised my manager of the situation, "Go, don't think about anything else", his empathy and understanding, when someone has the ability to put themselves in another's shoes, one can only reciprocate in kind. "Abo Rasheed, I need time to attend to my father and mother, hence do not need a vacation, I can work remotely so that we can keep the momentum of work". We had launched the executive survey to tailor and prioritize the EA services, results were coming in. At the back of my head, was thinking hopefully would need 2-3 weeks and they would recover and can report back to work... I was so wrong.
This was when the second wave hit India, it was severe, Umma's younger brothers returned to his lord, a victim of the wave. Let me not go into the origins of the second wave or how it was managed, it shall not be forgotten.
"Let everything settle here, there is no need to rush and travel to India now", handing over the phone to Umma he said "tell him that", Uppa was being best at caring for our health and well being, even though he himself was struggling with it, the images and the words kept flashing as I traveled back.
The results of the surveys were coming in, with clarity on the expectations and priority of key stakeholders, whose analysis would lead to tailoring how we engage with them and design and tailor services that we would offer. Simple right?
Uppa needed daily injections, we arrange it the previous day to procure for the next day, I was to collect the injection, deliver it to the covid ward ICU before noon. Then in the afternoon appointment to see Umma who is admitted to another hospital and in the ICU.
Uppa's doctor used to say, "He is fighting, we weren't expecting him to survive this long"
We received a call in the morning, Uppa had breathed his last, and returned to his lord. Having a father is one of those things that one takes for granted because tomorrow I can call him up and consult on this thought that's bothering me. Or am feeling helpless and worried, and I can share with him and he would tell those exact words to instill confidence, inspire and make those worries go away. Or that he is not well but it is okay I can go visit him over the weekend... all that .... until you cant.
Brother and sister were better enough to join the drive to the hospital, each one of us trying hard not to break down. Two of our cousins, mother's younger brother, and Uppa's close friends also arrived soon. They allowed limited people as per norms to see Uppa and to perform any religious rites within certain limits. "He has that smile, the one that he always has when he would greet us upon entering his house", my cousin said.
"Mohammed Ikka ( Ikka, means elder brother) will not go until Yaseen arrives from Saudi, Mami was saying while we were discussing his deteriorating condition," said Mama, he paused and then continued "as that is the connection he has with You", and he broke down, whatever courage I was having in holding back, the pain, the heartbreak, the loss, all of it broke through, I broke down and cried.
Mama is One of Uppas dear friends ( uncle, as that's the way Uppa & Umma taught us to address their friends),
All the oceans of things he has done, and me counting the drops of failed attempts in giving back.
Uppa was laid to rest in his hometown, near to his father and mother, the same afternoon was my appointment with Umma in ICU. Apprised my manager about the situation.
Umma unlike Uppa is health-conscious careful of what she ate, taking walks, yoga, etc, And would keep pushing us to take care of our health. Umma would delight me when she would ask to buy something for herself, or at times when she would say "You are more like me than Uppa" when I try and giveaway. I made it a point to buy an exercise mat from Riyadh to give to Umma.
Umma wasn't aware of Uppa's worsening condition, she used to inquire about Uppa from anyone who visits ( brother, sister, etc) all would say, he is in hospital and getting treated. Before meeting Umma, the hospital required me to take the covid test, and wait till I get results and permission to go in. Still struggling with the loss of Uppa, fighting tears, brother and me waited outside, Umma could read me like an open book, we both knew Umma would want to know Uppas condition, and the moment she saw me she would perhaps know.
Umma's Oxygen levels were low and was being given oxygen, via a mask, it would be difficult for Umma to talk, and my brother mentioned that if she talks she will be more tired because of it. As I entered the room, and Umma saw me, she knew ... she asked with gestures what happened, pointed at me questioning. Could see she was struggling with heavy breathing, perhaps stressed. She kept asking, firmly, but worried, mildly agitated, as if demanding to be responded to.
"Don't worry Umma, brother is with me outside, if there is anything you need, we will take care of it... try to get better... you are our strength... make duas" ... Umma still kept pointing and asking, Umma wanted to know about Uppa. The words that came out were "I saw Uppa, today morning, and he is peaceful". I saw tears roll down from Ummas cheek, I said helplessly "..don't cry ... don't cry ... we are here ..." standing beside Umma and trying to comfort her. Umma used to have aches in her leg and used to stretch her feet when she had felt them. I went to Ummas feet, started massaging the feet and leg, I saw umma gradually feel rested, Umma's breathing became less difficult, she became calmer, relaxed, closed her eyes. At one point she opened her eyes, and looked at me while I was pressing her feet, the look of kindness in those blessed eyes ... "You can't stay for long, we have rules", said the nurse, Umma was resting by then, I did not want to wake her up, and I left.
The next day morning, my brother, sister, and I were called to the hospital, the doctor wanted to apprise us of Ummas condition, "Last night, Umma's condition worsened suddenly, we have seen this before, in covid patients the sudden changes in health condition, we have moved her to ventilator ... but there is no chance of recovery". Losing our father the previous day, we thought at least we have a mother, we knew the way mother and father lived their lives, they were inseparable. By noon that day, our mother also left this world and returned to her lord, Umma was laid to rest near Uppa.
"When Uppa's and Umma's father( our grandfathers) went to enroll Uppa and Umma in college, Umma's father asked Uppa to take care of Umma"... my aunt( Uppa's younger sister) said recollecting a memory, and then addressed me directly "Your father did that until his last day, and now he has taken Umma with him" ...
The Journey ... coming back ... Faith
As painful as the loss, faith is a big part of healing, the transience of this life, permanence of the afterlife, and getting the chance to join with the ones who have left us, grant us hope. The day before my travel to Riyadh via Mali, I sat down by their graves, making prayers for their souls, asking kindness for them like the kindness they had shown when we were small. Hoping to return to visit them again.
The Journey ... coming back ... Family
The kindness, support, and love shown by Family and close friends, during those times were vital to cope with the loss. They would mean more to us than before, hoping that we could also do the same, when it is needed. The importance of building real deep relationships, everlasting ones can never be ignored, there must always be time for family ( friends in a way are family too ), note to self ... so prioritize.
The Journey ... coming back ... Work
The results for the executive survey were coming in, slowly but steadily, but it wasn't all easy... haven't I taken enough of your time already, lets keep this one for later. Depends if I would get time to get back to this before I join my parents.
A number of people who knew Uppa and Umma would say how their lives have been touched by the departed, or how they had helped them in need, or how much they cared and loved them. Its a legacy they had built over the time, brother, sister, and I have taken upon ourselves to try and live up to that legacy, in goodness, faith, care and understanding.
Continuance .... Future.
We are now part of the family of people who has lost at least one person we loved and cared about deeply, to others, it's just a number and will stay that way until ... well you know. We tried to get our parents vaccinated but were not fortunate enough to get access to one. Hence let me conclude with a request.
A Request .... Future.
"Please Get Vaccinated", if you are having the liberty and freedom of choice to get vaccinated, and doctors say its safe for you, please don't debate, or flaunt the right to freedom of not taking vaccines. As children who have lost their parents to covid-19, it's not funny ... get that vaccine.