It was early March when Shirley got her job in the bank. She was quite excited and planning ahead to grow in the bank. She made few friends while they were in training. Shirley was happy about her new job, as her ambition and dreams were connected with it. Everyone was assigned their desks. Shirley took her files and binders and was moving to her desk. As she was moving towards her desk, she was looking around at other colleagues and was greeting them with her smile. There were people from all ages and races too. There was one guy who had a salt-n-pepper hair, who smiled at Shirley and greeted as welcome. Shirley thanked and moved on to her desk. She cleaned it and arranged all her files neatly. As time was passing she came to know many people who were senior to her by joining date in the bank. The guy whom Shirley used to see as salt-n-pepper hair, Shirley got to know that his name is Irfaan. He was a gentleman, well groomed in London and he had moved from London to Canada. Shirley always looked at him with respect. Whenever she used to be in the break room she used to see Irfaan with his sugar testing instrument.
One day she stopped and said, ‘Salam Irfaan ji’!
Irfaan said, ‘Wasalam!’ How are you pretty young lady?
Shirley: (smiling) I am fine thank you! How are you doing? and what is this instrument for?
Irfaan: (with a smile) I am doing fine thank you! I am diabetic and I always have to test my sugar before I plan whether to have a biscuit with my tea or not!
Shirley felt bad, it was not sympathy but she felt its so sad even if he want to eat his cookie he can’t if the instrument tells not to!
These thoughts were just going in the mind of Shirley, when Irfaan said you are looking very beautiful in that dress.
Shirley: (suddenly coming back to the break room as if) oh! thank you! I will see you later, take care (and she left the break room to go to her desk)
After this incident, Shirley used to make sure that she gives some time to Irfaan. At least to talk and see how he is doing. Irfaan, who used to be alone now felt that he did find a friend at work.
Shirley used to take subway to go home. That night she got stuck with her final documentations with the team members and hence she left immediately after finishing her work, to catch her subway to home.
She saw Irfaan was in the Subway too. Shirley went to Irfaan and sat next to him and said, ‘oh! I didn’t know that you also take subway to home.
Irfaan: (with a warm smile) Yes, I take subway too! Since then Shirley along with her other friends from work used to take subway with Irfaan. Everyone was very helpful and caring towards Irfaan. Irfaan, being with young folks, enjoyed his time and started thinking young from heart too. He used to compliment Shirley as Shirley was very professional in her behavior and attire too. Shirley took Irfaan’s compliment as joke. As Irfaan started sharing his personal life with Shirley, Shirley felt how lonely Irfaan is.
Irfaan was born in India and his family moved to Pakistan during partition time when he was only 5 years old.
His heart speaks like a Indian though his language is as polite and beautiful as any Pakistani would do with lovely urdu language.
Irfaan moved to London as he turned 18 and did all his studies in London. He got married and got two beautiful daughters. After many years of staying in London, Irfaan thought to migrate to Canada with his family.
By now Irfaan had only one elder brother who was still in London. Parents had already gone on the heavenly board. His wife, who was a calm, quite and religious lady started seeing other man as she came to Canada.
Sadly, today Irfaan is alone who is working and trying to pay his bills only to see his daughters whenever he gets to meet them. Shirley felt very bad as she know what is loneliness as she was still single even though she had a huge friend circle at work. Shirley as her nature is, used to care for Irfaan and used to make sure he is also taken care by others at work. Everyone came to a point where Irfaan was not judged by his age but he was considered as a friend of their age and they used to joke around with him like any other 20s would do. One day as Shirley was working she noticed Irfaan’s voice was shaky and the words were not clear. Shirley started calling Irfaan, ‘Irfaan ji, are you ok? Irfaan ji…can you hear me?
Irfaan slightly turned his face and with a smile looked at Shirley and said, ‘Yes! I will be fine. Don’t worry!
Shirley saw that Irfaan was not okay. His eyes were rolling up and he still want to finish his work. Shirley quickly got out of her seat and went to see her manager. She said to her manager Paul, ‘I think you should check on Irfaan. I don’t think he is feeling good. He is not listening to me but I am worried for his health.’
Paul, immediately assured Shirley that he will take care of it and Paul ran to Irfaan.
Irfaan was sent home with one of the colleague in a cab. He was asked to take rest and if he feels good the next day only then he should come to office.
Irfaan came to Shirley before leaving and said, ‘I will be okay beautiful! make sure you don’t kill anyone else with your beautiful gestures’ and he went away.
Shirley wondered, what a guy – he is so sick and still he is joking and smiling. She said you are in my prayers for sure.
Next day Irfaan didn’t come to work. Shirley made a call to him and made sure he is okay.
Irfaan said, ‘I am feeling a bit weak and hence I decided to take rest. But I will miss seeing you. Are you dressed to kill today also?’
Shirley laughed at this and wondered what is he talking about – has he gone crazy? and then she said, ‘Irfaan ji, I think you really need to take rest and we will see you tomorrow all healthy and well.’ and then she said, take care and kept the phone down.
Shirley that evening while going home from work, called Irfaan again to make sure he is doing fine. Irfaan promised her that he will call her and let her know if there is anything that is needed.
Shirley got assured and she came home.
Next morning, Shirley went to work and got busy so much that she couldn’t even take her lunch break. Around 3:00 pm she felt so hungry that she decided to take a break.
As she was about to take off, her desk phone started ringing. Shirley first thought to ignore, but as always she worried -‘what if it’s something urgent?
She said to her other friend, ‘you carry on I will join you after this call.
Shirley took the call and at the other end there was Irfaan, who had a very deep yet shaky voice – ‘Hello dear Shirley, I wanted to tell you something before they take me from here’.
Shirley, got worried and said, ‘what happened Irfaan ji, are you ok? You don’t sound good. Did you call your doctor? I think you should go to the hospital. I am worried that you are not doing well.
Irfaan: ‘I will be fine. The doctor said my sugar has gone into my blood now. I should be ok. Please let me tell you something which I won’t be able to tell you once they come and take me away.
Shirley, thought they might be the ambulance people who might be coming and taking him to the hospital. She thought to listen to him and give company on the phone.
Irfaan: Shirley, I don’t know whether it’s right or wrong but I love you. Deep in my heart you are my angel who has always given me love and only love. Sometimes, I think it is destiny to meet you. You are a beautiful person in your heart and that reflects on your face and behavior too. When I used to send emails saying, – whom are you dressed up to kill? It was not a joke…as you did send those arrows to my heart with your killing looks.
Shirley, got worried and wondered what’s up with Irfaan Ji? He is so elderly person and what has gone wrong with him to talk to me like this? She thought probably it’s due to his sickness and she said, ‘Irfaan ji ! I think you are not feeling well and I think you should not talk too much also as you need rest.
Irfaan: Shirley, please don’t stop me. If I don’t say now, I will not be able to tell this anytime later. I want to tell you this and after that I will hang up and take rest.
Shirley, didn’t know how to react and she thought to listen and let him say what he wants to say.
Irfaan: Shirley, I love you and I had this dream to recite Shakespeare to the one I love.
Please allow me to recite this and after that I will hang up as they will come and take me away.
Shirley was all surprised and wondering what is Irfaan ji saying…
Irfaan on the phone:
“In faith, I will. Let me peruse this face.
Mercutio’s kinsman, noble County Paris!
What said my man, when my betossed soul
Did not attend him as we rode? I think
He told me Paris should have married Juliet:
Said he not so? or did I dream it so?
Or am I mad, hearing him talk of Juliet,
To think it was so? O, give me thy hand,
One writ with me in sour misfortune’s book!
I’ll bury thee in a triumphant grave;
A grave? O no! a lantern, slaughter’d youth,
For here lies Juliet, and her beauty makes
This vault a feasting presence full of light.
Death, lie thou there, by a dead man interr’d.
How oft when men are at the point of death
Have they been merry! which their keepers call
A lightning before death: O, how may I
Call this a lightning? O my love! my wife!
Death, that hath suck’d the honey of thy breath,
Hath had no power yet upon thy beauty:
Thou art not conquer’d; beauty’s ensign yet
Is crimson in thy lips and in thy cheeks,
And death’s pale flag is not advanced there.
Tybalt, liest thou there in thy bloody sheet?
O, what more favour can I do to thee,
Than with that hand that cut thy youth in twain
To sunder his that was thine enemy?
Forgive me, cousin! Ah, dear Juliet,
Why art thou yet so fair? shall I believe
That unsubstantial death is amorous,
And that the lean abhorred monster keeps
Thee here in dark to be his paramour?
For fear of that, I still will stay with thee;
And never from this palace of dim night
Depart again: here, here will I remain
With worms that are thy chamber-maids; O, here
Will I set up my everlasting rest,
And shake the yoke of inauspicious stars
From this world-wearied flesh. Eyes, look your last!
Arms, take your last embrace! and, lips, O you
The doors of breath, seal with a righteous kiss
A dateless bargain to engrossing death!
Come, bitter conduct, come, unsavoury guide!
Thou desperate pilot, now at once run on
The dashing rocks thy sea-sick weary bark!
Here’s to my love!”
Shirley, you there right? are you there still..?
Shirley: Yes, Irfaan Ji, I am listening. I think you should take rest as I am worried for you.
Irfaan: Shirley, you know this is by heart to me. I am not reading from any book. It is all in my heart and today is the only day that I was able to recite it and that too to someone I love – May Allah give you all the happiness and peace in life.
Now, I will go and sleep. Let them come and take me away but Shirley don’t feel anything bad, for me loving you so deeply.
Shirley: Irfaan ji, you take care. Those ambulance people should come and take you to the hospital. I will call you tonight to check how you are doing. Take care
Irfaan: I am a free bird today and I will fly to heaven as I believe and you are the only one who has made that path easier for me. You always have been with me in my lonely and painful times. Now I don’t have any hesitation to say that you are a beautiful woman and I am deeply in love with you. Someone else will be lucky who will marry you.
Alvida! (Good bye in urdu)
Shirley with a confused and shocked gestures! She got out of the phone and discussed this with her friend who was supposed to be taking break with Shirley.
Her friend laughed out saying Shirley, you made that guy crazy – gal, leave him alone and she laughed and walked to her desk.
Shirley’s mind was occupied with Irfaan ji’s talks and she kept on telling herself that he is not in his presence of mind and hence ignore it.
In the evening when Shirley called Irfaan ji…it went to his voice mail. Shirley left a message, ‘ Irfaan ji I hope you are feeling better and are getting treated in the hospital. Let me know when you get this message, I would like to hear from you till then take care!’
There was no response or no calls were returned. Shirley through out called and left messages until on Sunday the message she heard that the mailbox is full.
Monday morning, Shirley went to office and first thing she went to see was for Irfaan ji at his desk. The desk was empty.
Shirley ran to her manager and said, ‘Paul, do you have any update on Irfaan? I have been calling him but he never called me back and now his mail box is full. You can’t even leave him a message.
Paul: Actually, we also called him and his mailbox is full. I have sent someone to his home. We should hear from him soon.
Shirley: thanks Paul, I will wait for that.
Shirley went back to her desk without any mood to work. Through out she was thinking about the last talk she had with Irfaan ji.
Suddenly, Paul came close to Shirley and with all caution he said, ‘Shirley, we came to know that Irfaan died on Saturday around 4:00 pm
Shirley: what? 4:00 p.m.? It’s impossible because he was talking to me till 4:00 pm on the phone. How can he?
Paul consoling Shirley: Listen, I understand you were the last person with whom he was talking. After that he had his last breath and till Monday morning his body was lying in the apartment. No one came to know about it. Cops came and they took care of the rest. His brother has been called and he will be visiting to do the funeral rituals.
Shirley couldn’t believe all this. She was shocked though in the office all her colleagues were crying and talking about Irfaan as how good person he was.
Some how Shirley never cried, her manager made sure that some of her good friends visit her home and give company that night but it was no use.
Shirley never cried – may be she feels he is still there, the love that he showered upon in those 45 minutes of time that he spent on the phone that day, cannot die just like that.
How strange it is that you come to know about a person when he is actually gone out of this world…
You never know where life comes and knocks at the door to say Hello or Good bye!
PS: This is a real story – May Irfaan’s soul RIP.