A conversation with Bilquise Edhi about Edhi sb and hope amongst tragedy
Last week was a difficult week for Lahore / Pakistan, with a bomb blast happening on Mall Road — just a few stop lights / minutes away from several of our Amal team members commuting home — another blast at a Sufi shrine in Sindh, and a blast in Quetta.
It was the kind of week where we found ourselves desperately looking for hope. Desperately looking for some light. Desperately asking if we are doing enough to address the problems facing Pakistan and our world.
Fortunately, some hope came on the very same day as the Lahore blast, through a conversation with the beloved Bilquise Edhi, the “Mother of Pakistan” and the dear wife of Abdul Sattar Edhi, known internationally as “Father Theresa” and locally as simply Edhi sb.
Mrs. Edhi was visiting Lahore for the first time since her husband passed away in July, and we had the chance to pick her up from the airport and spend a few hours hearing incredible stories about her husband, their son Faisal Edhi, the community in Mithadar and throughout Pakistan, and the work they have dedicated their entire lives to.
Despite moments of tears and sadness, I found that Bilquise was just as I imagined and just as Edhi sb described her in his autobiography:
Gifted with that rare quality so important in the life of a possessed man… the ability to spread happiness. It illuminated all matters.
As we sat with Bilquise, I wondered how she was able to retain this sense of joy, despite all of the pain and despite her husband being gone. As it turns out, this was a question Edhi sb also asked her, and her response was quite beautiful:
If I was not affected [by all the tragedies] I would be inhuman, but I am not unhappy. Joy is not lost.
At the same time, this is a question I have been wondering for months now about Edhi sb, having read that he started to despair after his centre/home was robbed towards the end of his life. The idea of Edhi sb lamenting that he had not done enough — despite giving his entire life — was almost too much to bear.
And so as a final, burning question to Bilquise, I very fragily asked if Edhi sb had lost any hope towards the end, was he worried that his work wasn’t enough or that Pakistan wasn’t moving forward?
Her response is something that I will always hold close:
Despite all of the challenges and tragedies, Edhi never lost hope for Pakistan… God gifted us this country, and we have to take care of it.
I literally felt a weight lifting as she said this, as if it was one of those things that I needed to hear that I never knew I needed to hear. Almost as if I was given permission to have hope again — as if it had been temporarily suspended under the pretense that if Edhi sb didn’t have hope, despite his life’s work, then who else could have hope.
And so, as the nation (and world) is reeling from all the tragedies that seem to be unfolding daily, let us remember the words of Bilquise and Edhi sb, that it is okay to feel saddened, for if we didn’t we would not be human. But also to not lose hope, for it is our country and our world and we have to take care of it.