From Floods to Tears

    Ghulam Yaseen grew up as a landless peasant. In 1994 the provincial government of Punjab (in a land offering scheme) allocated him 7 marla (175 square metres) of land in Jhandewali on which he could earn a livelihood and build a home. After a year’s toil, he raised enough money to build a one room mud-brick house. He then married and in the next 15 years Allāh blessed him and his wife with 8 children. All of them were raised in this tiny home.

    The floods in August 2010 destroyed everything Ghulam had worked for. His home and possessions were left in ruins. With nothing left, the young family fled to the village of Bindah Ishaq and sought refuge with relatives.

    After a few days, Ghulam was eager to get back to his village to assess the damage. Though keen to go alone, he took along two of his younger children, Muhammad Yameen, 18 months, and Shaila Bibi, 4, after giving in to their pleas.

    Jhandewali itself was now an island and almost impossible to enter without having to negotiate the flood waters. Ghulam, with no other choice, hoisted Muhammad onto one shoulder and Shaila onto the other, and started to wade through. The waters though, were strong and unrelenting. And then, with the hukm of Allāh, a wave crashed into them, throwing Muhammad into the waters. His father cried out, reaching out to grab him but the waves pushed the child away. He lunged for his son again but the waters were unforgiving and gave no respite. Muhammad, just 18 months old, was swallowed up and swept away.

    Shaila, screaming for her brother, somehow clung on, while her father, inconsolable, steadied himself. Distraught and disorientated, the pair struggled on towards Jhandewali. They waded through the waters for over 3 kilometres, reaching the village at nightfall.

    Tired, hungry and wet, they came to a derelict site that was formerly their home. Upon seeing the devastation wreaked, Ghulam was indifferent. Having just lost his son, strewn bricks and mud meant nothing to him.

    “And we will surely test you with something of fear and hunger and a loss of wealth and lives and crops; but give glad tidings to the patient,” (Surah Baqarah, Verse 155)

    That night, Shaila was overcome with a heavy fever and started to vomit. In the middle of the night and surrounded by water, getting medical help was impossible. For three hours, she vomited and groaned as her father watched on helplessly, almost trying to console himself as much as his poor daughter. Once again there would be no reprieve: in the early hours, Shaila, at 4 years of age, died in the lap of her father.

    Ghulam lay beside his dead daughter till dawn. He then went back to Bindah Ishaq that morning carrying her body. Upon seeing her lifeless daughter and hearing about her son, Ghulam’s wife, overcome with grief, fainted.  She did not talk to anyone for many days after.

    Ghulam had left for his village with two healthy children and a day later came back with one dead child. How soon do the fortunes of man change? And indeed Allāh is most merciful and most wise.

    From Floods to Tears

    Ghulam’s family, and thousands like it, have been tested by Allāh so their rank can be elevated.

    The whole family came back to Jhandewali in October 2010. They passed the cold winter in a tent provided by the Ummah Welfare Trust. Currently, they have no income and no home and are looking to their fellow Muslims for help.

    Ghulam’s story brought tears to the eyes of UWT fieldworkers and shook their hearts. One cannot imagine how those 24 hours must have been for a father who lost two young children in such brutal circumstances after having lost his home and all possessions.

    The harsh reality is that these stories are endless and our tears insufficient. We are reminded time and again of the power of the Almighty and how he is immune from our plans. In these difficult times it is incumbent upon every individual to reflect upon his/her life and rectify it accordingly.