It was in news for the past two to three months now that Edhi Sahib was not well and was hospitalized on and off. It was disturbing news but, with my own life happening at the same time, I didn’t pay much attention to it. And, perhaps another reason was that I couldn’t bring myself to accept that he was illness. He was an ideology for me, the kind of ideology that rejects all the glamour and superficiality but believes in what really humans are.
I was at my parents’ with my daughter for a sleepover when the news of his sad demise aired. Every channel aired the news with a different and catchy headline but all I could think was the loss we, as a nation, had just received. This was, beyond doubt, the biggest death in the history of Pakistan, after Mohammad Ali Jinnah.
Died at the age of 88, he learned the art of giving from his mother who used to give him two pennies; one for him and one for someone in need. This multiplied by his care for his mother during her illness and eventually by her death. You would find a lot of stuff about him on internet but one very interesting fact is that he was more of ‘a spiritual person than a religious one’, quoting a friend here. He believed in humanity and simple things in life.
The courage he had of collecting dead bodies – severed, burnt, unrecognizable, sometimes reduced to just bloody body parts strewn all over the place, with no semblance to human life – and handing them over to the affected families is unheard of. It is a miracle how he maintained his will to carry on his work even after the horrors he had witnessed in helping his people. Such courage would make someone cold at heart but not Edhi; he empathized with the families, with the underprivileged, with the misers and distressed equally.
He lent a hand to the destitute. He took care of broken people and unloved things. And that is what truly made him a man of the people. No politician, no authority, no person can come close to him – he gave a family to those who had been let down by their own blood and no other person can take that role… at least not right now.
You would never come across a single advertisement by Edhi Foundation requesting donations for his organization. In one of his interviews he mentioned that he doesn’t need to ask for donations since he receives blank cheques as donations from all over the world. With that sort of money coming he still chose to lead a simple life and always considered that money as safekeeping. This shows people’s trust in Edhi’s cause, work and self. His cause was larger than life and so was he himself.
I still can’t bring myself around the fact that he died leaving so many needy people in sorrow. People close to him say that during his last days he was upset about the fact that he was unable to eradicate poverty and misery from this country.
Every Pakistani is affected by his death and the nation is united in mourning. His legacy is so great that I don’t think anyone else can continue it with the same spirit. RIP Edhi Sahib! This nation will have to find a way to carry on with you.