You think you have control and can plan things, but then something happens which basically proves to you that you are just a puppet in a bigger plan! And have absolutely NO control over anything!
My paternal uncle (my dad’s younger brother) in Toronto was terminally ill and the doctors had indicated that there was no hope for him to get better and go back home. Although he was sick for a couple of years and was on a constant decline, it didn’t hit me until that day that I may never be able to see him again. I decided to go see him one last time and say my goodbyes. On the morning of Dec 24, I booked mine and my daughter’s ticket for an early morning flight on Dec 26, which would reach Toronto on Dec 26 at 12:45 pm.
I told my brother our flight details (as he was supposed to pick us up from the airport) and he sounded like my uncle’s health was deteriorating faster than I thought. So, in urgency, I cancelled our Dec 26th flight and changed it to a Dec 25th flight, which meant we had to fly that same night. Our new flight would reach Toronto at 12:45 pm on Christmas day, which was the earliest possible flight we could take.
We left home for the airport on Dec 24 at 10:30 pm to catch the 1:35 am flight to Toronto via Philadelphia. The 14 hour Philadelphia bound flight left Doha on time. After a Christmas Eve dinner served on board and about 4 hours into the flight as I was about to snooze off, the Captain announced that due to a technical difficulty in the aircraft, we have to head back to Doha. I thought I was dreaming and didn’t quite hear it right and therefore stopped an air hostess to double check as she apologetically confirmed the same! I just couldn’t believe what was happening! I had never in my life EVER, experienced it myself or even heard anything like that! But there was absolutely nothing I could do! We headed back to Doha, which meant after 8 hours of flying, we were back where we started from! Back to square one!
We were taken to the airport lounge and served breakfast as they changed the aircraft, but I was getting impatient with every passing minute! The flight eventually took off again on Dec 25 at 1:35 pm – exactly 12 hours later than the first time! I knew there would be more trouble when we reach Philadelphia as we would have obviously missed our connecting flight to Toronto. So, after 22 hours of flying (8 hours before and 14 hours actual flight time), we reached Philadelphia on Dec 25 at 8 pm (local time).
When we landed, the airline staff gave us a voucher for an overnight stay at a nearby hotel and a rebooked connecting flight information. We were booked on the 11:00 am flight on Dec 26 (which was the flight I had booked in the first place when I was travelling on the 26th). I kept asking them if there was ANY other earlier flight that could fly me into Toronto that night but I was told that this was the earliest possible flight. My uncle was up and conscious until this time and he knew what was happening with my flight.
We spent the night at the hotel and passed out after such an exhausting journey. My maternal uncle (mamoo) who lives an hour away from Philadelphia, told me he will come to see us the next morning and drive us to the airport. We reached the airport at 8:00 am, and as we reached the airline counter to check in, the staff at the counter sarcastically told me…
“Do you realize that you are LATE for your flight”
and I was like “WHAT????”
I showed her the rebooked voucher that I was given last night by the airline which clearly stated that our flight was at 11:00 am. She told me that I was booked on the 8:30 am flight and that the 11:00 am flight was full!
Had I been alone and my mamoo was not there with me, I would have been balling my eyes out! He literally had to fight to get me confirmed on the 1:30 pm flight, that would reach Toronto at 3:30 pm.
Everything that could go wrong was going wrong! It was like something was stopping me to reach Toronto. To make matters worse, my brother called to tell me that my uncle has been declining since last night and that he won’t be able to come to the airport and instead my cousin’s husband would pick us up.
I felt helpless! I knew at that moment, that I would not make it in time while my mamoo kept uplifting me and saying that I would… and I should not think negative.I called my brother again when we eventually boarded the flight and while my uncle was declining, he was still alive. I switched off the phone, closed my eyes and the flight took off. 2 hours later when we landed and I switched my phone on at 3:30 pm, my family Whatsapp was flooded with messages that my uncle passed away at 3:15 pm. Just 15 minutes before I landed – the irony!
I was standing in the immigration queue, sobbing like a baby with people staring at me and my daughter hugging me as hard as she could. It took me 50 hours – door to door to reach my uncles’ home. The feeling of exhaustion was taken over by the feeling of defeat. I lost the race against time…
I will never be able to figure it out why all that could go wrong went wrong.. but I know that everything that happened was happening to stop me from reaching on time. My brother says that it’s a good thing I wasn’t there when he passed away because it would have been a dejavu of how my dad passed away and would have been very difficult for me to go through. Sometimes I feel that maybe its good I didn’t see him suffering and will always remember him how he was healthy, in control and in charge of everything at my dad’s funeral and sometimes my heart sinks when I think maybe he didn’t want to see me … I was, however, able to attend his funeral which was offered in the same mosque where 3 years ago, my dad’s funeral prayers were offered.
Whatever it was, in my heart I know that I would never be able to find the answer to this question and will always regret this ALL my life that I didn’t make it in time! He now rests in peace, in the same graveyard along with my dad.
Please say a prayer (Surah-e-Fatheha) for the departed souls
My uncle: Abid Bin Ahmed Rizvi s/o Hussain Ahmed Rizvi
My dad: Hasan Bin Ahmed Rizvi s/o Hussain Ahmed Rizvi