RIP Fahmida

I met Fahmida back in 2009. She was visually-impaired and lived alone in a small hut. Her husband and children did not survive the trials of time and conflict; she languished alone for close to four decades in a squalid displaced population camp.

Her home was a tiny 8′ x 10′ space; the walls looked like they would barely hold in the next monsoon flooding. I sat beside her on the wooden structure that was her bed, my physical discomfort an afterthought to her engaging personality. She didn’t have certainty around her next meal and was undoubtedly aware of her difficult reality, but gave off an air of contentment. I felt at peace in her presence.

I did what I could to provide immediate assistance. It wasn’t much but, in return, I left with much more: her generous prayers, and the sincere determination to do something more substantial to improve her situation.

Fahmida saying a prayer for her visitors

A few months later, on my next visit, I looked forward to meeting her again. I arrived in the camp, this time better equipped to address some of her more serious needs – only to find out that she had since passed away. I longed to meet her again, to provide some comfort during what would be her last few days. But it was too late.

We live our lives on the basis of YOLO. Yes, you only live once. But let’s focus more on amplifying the need to hasten to do good before it’s too late and we are left with regret.

My paternal grandfather used to say “don’t leave today’s work till tomorrow”. This was his invaluable experience speaking, as a surgeon in the military, having experienced war and conflict firsthand. Indeed, it’s better to act today, not knowing what tomorrow brings.

As for Fahmida, not many knew of her death; even less cared. She is among millions around the world whose deaths are not mourned. Social media will never pummel newsfeeds with expressions of sorrow as they do for celebrities. In life, as in death, their existence is seen as but an uncomfortable statistic.

Fahmida was a special person and her passing deserves to be mourned. May she be happier and in peace where she is now.