An ode to humanity

We seek inspiration from popularly told stories of heroes that become role models for many of us and reaffirm our faith in humanity. Edhi Saab is the epitome of what humanity encompasses; empathy, kindness, charity and limitless giving towards fellow mankind. Sometimes such people are around us and can teach us many lessons of what being humane is all about but we don’t have the insight or maybe the humanity within us to recognise it.
Tanweer Uncle was one such person whose journey and his wife and children’s attitude towards life has taught me many lessons. Last Saturday, he died due to cardiac failure. He was in his mid-60s and his death was as silent as his life was. Was he a hero? Did he live an extraordinary life? No. But he did live a life that inspires and teaches the meaning of this world.
He was an orthopedic physician by profession. Youngest of four siblings, a handsome young man excelled academically and became a professor in Multan Nishtar hospital in his early 40s. Father to four children and husband to my beautiful aunt, he was a symbol of charm, grace, intelligence and so much more. He was a UK qualified doctor and despite having spent a few years aboard and countless opportunities to settle anywhere in the world, he chose to come back to his hometown, Multan–the city of saints. An apt choice for a man who was no less than a saint himself.
He got attention anywhere he went because of his charming personality but never took himself seriously. He was a man of faith, charitable, treated uncountable patients for free, looked after his friends and family without a flinch. Ethical, honest to a fault, known to have never lost his anger despite any conflict and stayed calm and contained. Perhaps there is a hint of an idealisation here but without a doubt, there are many who will be a witness to this man’s character and integrity.
He had a fairytale life with a lovely wife, children, successful career and money at age forty-two when he had a heart attack that left him dead only to be resuscitated by fellow doctors who said, ‘we can’t let this man die’. He came back to life with complete memory loss and the loss of other faculties as well. For two decades, he lived oblivious of the world around him. His wife and children stepped in to take care of him and taking care of him is a gross injustice to the respect and love the family showered on him for twenty years. I never saw a moment of impatience or anger but sheer gratitude for his presence despite the fact that he did not recognise his family. She showed me what love means which is not about relationships but the depth of her sweet emotion for her husband.
In these two decades, the children grew up, got their education, got married and had children of their own but their parents, especially their father, remained a priority for them. Life went on and changed but what stayed consistent was the unconditional love and support by the family especially by my aunt.
So, what did I learn? I was a witness to what grace under pressure looks like as I saw my Khala with the smile on her face all these years taking care of her husband. I once asked her if she ever gets tired and her surprise at this question made me realise the difference between pain and suffering. The family was in pain but their attitude towards this unimaginable adversity spoke tales of courage and accepting pain as a part of life. My aunt’s commitment to her husband symbolises what a marriage is about. It was a love story that did not involve typical romantic gestures that might be grand but her sacrifice and caregiving was larger than life; the essence of in sickness and in health. The children mirrored his love and commitment to them in their unconditional love and sense of responsibility towards their father.
You will be missed by all those whose life you touched, my dearest Tanweer Uncle. Until we meet again.

The writer is a BACP (British Association For Counselling and Psychotherapy) accredited individual and couple psychotherapist based in Islamabad. She can be reached at or her official website.

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