Emerson once said, “be the opener of doors”.   Other writers believed that there will always be a time when the doors will open, others said if there is no opportunity build a door. The topic I have given to my page has not been the result of too much of deliberation. It just happened as has been always this way. Flashes and waves of my mind always allow stumbling to subjects such as this -A Door Always Opens. Frankly whenever I choose to write I allow too much of randomness to take better of me. I may during the course of creation of this page ramble from one to another event by no single event preferred over the other. Ideas, people, and places bounce in my head like never before. Please turn a blind eye if there is something amiss, I do not expect myself to be perfect every time. I am not a Penman. But I am now in these last years crossing 60 is fun. You are no more worried by this, that, if, who, where and what. Who says you cannot break walls and cross those taboos and have no fear of excommunication. Doors will open, doors always open. Since childhood, my father has been a beacon, a guiding light. A man with whom I remember not conversing too much. His aura, his undertone, and overtone petrified all the siblings. There was something in him which enthralled us, it was like we were ceremoniously preserved, his mercurial and incalculable mood swings was something he could never have full control over. He had two very stark personas, his magnetism was extremely strong. He was a superstar at one time who was well organized polished and a self-assured personality. Whilst at another extreme he was fanatical, extremist with outrageous temperament. We were growing up in a household full of vibrations of life which were coming from a man who had a very austere life with unbending and unyielding character. He did not believe that losing of temper he will lose he believed more in ‘satisfaction’ of his heart no matter how many odds were pitched against him. His unpredictable nature was repeatedly reflected in his military appraisals and he could not come to terms with it. Though he died trying to find out what was against him. He was always apprehensive of conspiracy being weaved against him, even decades after his retirement. He died not ever knowing about those reports, something I read much after his passing away. The details I reserve for some other day and hour.

Right now there is a deluge of ideas, stories, and events, nothing to do with philosophical ruminations.  The memories of one such story which was narrated to me back in 1995 have gradually moved around full circle opening a number of doors if you come to think of that.   I am glad I did not set them free too soon. The time is now to write the full hoop as the door has revolved full circle. For the seclusion of the hero behind the Door, I have chosen to call him Snow Leopard or ‘Ess Ell‘. I saw him first time on the assumption of command after I was my promoted. Ess Ell a Captain then with a countryman appearance with few nicotine stains on his teeth was one of my Staff Officer. His accent heightened his rural background image. The outgoing commander perhaps did not ever try to know more of Ess Ell, instead, with his opinion about him tried to put him in a disadvantageous position to me. I stopped him for doing that. I believed always I should myself be the judge with my professional experience of who is what. Soon I was able to know much more of him than what I would have known through the flawed approach of the gentleman who tried to fill me up with Ess Ell’s abilities. At times we can be a poor judge of men. Senior Leaders should be wary of this very important attribute and not be swayed by personal appearances alone. As we got along we settled down to discuss various non-professional matters, give our opinion and thoughts. I now could see how the young captain viewed things in life which was of his own. I found them interesting and original. On first appearance he looked rustic, a man with no outward force of personality. His spoken English was laden with native Punjabi accent, which betrayed his personality more than was necessary. To be fair to him he could not help himself on that score. That is how Ess Ell was chiseled. A small opening in the door I gave to Ess Ell allowed me to gauge gradually prowess of his mental superiority and excellence. I soon realized that the young man was much more than running an eye over. Now he conversed with ease with me. He spoke more as I began to listen.

Ess Ell came from a needy family. He had his major misfortune at an early age when he lost his father while he was in school. He struggled with his problems which exacerbated with the death of his father.  He applied to different colleges in Islamabad but failed to get an admission. Appeared as a private student. Sometimes worked as a laborer during the day, crushing stones with bare hands, lifting them at different construction sites, and other times on meager pay in different factories of Islamabad Industrial Area. At night he huddled along with other fellow students in over crowded flats earning just barely to make his modest ends meet. He took his examinations as a private student. One day resting on a mat on the floor he glanced through the first page of the paper and went to work. His colleagues and fellow laborers considered him as a misfit in even their circle of work. They found him an odd man out who worked during the day, remained aloof as he studied at night. It was a queer situation, untypical of a laborer, they thought. After he came back Ess Ell picked the newspaper and started reading again. He was thrilled and his animated movements got better of him. People gazed at him in wonderment. laborers with whom he worked called him “Baghi” (Rebel). I remembered James Dean movie A REBEL WITHOUT A CAUSE.  Ess Ell was not that. He had a cause and an ambition, a dream which was getting closer to fulfillment. They knew something extraordinary had happened for they had never seen him like that before. Soon he broke the news to those who really would not have understood the true meaning of his achievement. Another Door had flung open for Ess Ell. He had topped his examination not only amongst the batch of private students but the whole lot of appeared students for that examination. At first, he could not fathom the significance of his achievement but initially also did not believe it to be true. He went to buy the Result Supplement to confirm his accomplishment. He got a scholarship which eventually resulted in his successful graduation. His odd jobs did not cease which he continued.

Ess Ell then applied for the commission in the Army. He failed the induction test but persistent as he was he applied again and got selected. A Door had opened wide this time. Self-analytical as he was, he did not let failures to dash his hopes. He had no strings and he never complained about non-fulfillment of his dreams. Ess Ell has risen to a One Star General in the Army. He also did his Masters in Strategic Security Studies with HUMAN SECURITY as a special subject from NDU USA. The University offered him to stay and teach which he politely declined. Ess Ell has now recently completed his Ph.D. on “Human Security in Gilgit Baltistan. Role of Geography in Human Security – Case Study of Gilgit. He has also written a book on HUMAN SECURITY. I am proud to have a copy of his book duly endorsed by him. During his command in Northern Areas, he applied his concept of Human Security successfully.

As I ponder over the yester years I am really lost for words to chronicle his achievements. He humbly calls me as his mentor, but I never thought like that. He is a self-made man his doors were difficult to open but he opened them with his sheer hard-work and perseverance.  When I started writing I thought I will narrate more than this event in my life. I will write again as a sequel to this page at a later time.

“When God Opens a door no one will shut when he shuts no one will open”

Lailah Gifty Akita. (A Ghanian and an Author of Think Great)



To be a star you must shine your own light, follow your own path and don’t worry about the darkness for that is when the stars shine brightest

From time to time in our lives comes along a time when things happen unexpectedly. Events which completely change not only our life but the lives of  another family, another person for rest of their life. I though know why I was hand picked for things which were about to happen on that fateful day. I am a strong believer in twist and turns of fate. They reveal their purpose in bits and pieces and its full extent can only reveal itself when time passes and you begin to realize the master plan of the Almighty, the controller of all worlds. We try to do right things, we believe we know what we should have done in the past, we believe we have the twenty-twenty vision but we do not know what we should do in future. Still, we misjudge and miscalculate to control our lives and then something tragic happens. The stark reality is uncloaked. We lament on our fate and misfortune. Time takes control. Our helplessness to seize the game plan is uncovered. Only if we believe and perceive, we come to know and what we do and act is, in my opinion, is ordained to complete the cycle of events. They say hindsight is of little value in the decision-making process. I do not agree with the thought. The intent guides.

It was April 2014, at about 1630 hours my son drove her mother to home after shopping for groceries in Islamabad. When they arrived on the road towards the airport about 800 meters ahead of the newly built check post as the road takes a bend a young boy little more than 5 years old, appeared running out of nowhere from the left side. He must have missed at least two or three cars before he hit our car from the left side and later it was known that he had died. Some cars sped past and did not stop, those behind stopped. A young man came running to my wife and said that she should leave the site immediately lest the crowd set fire to the car.  Not far from there, is another traffic post who were informed about the accident. My wife by then had called me and told me what had happened, words barely came out of her mouth as she spoke on phone. She is very weak in controlling herself and facing tragedies. In 15 minutes or so I reached the place. My wife had been extremely nervous and did not want police to take away my son who had already taken his ID card. The traffic warden took me to a side and asked if I had a driver whose ID Card could be exchanged instead with that of my son. I offered my own card instead and asked my son and wife to go home and let me face the consequences instead. Soon the Police from Chaklala Police Station came and we drove to the station with the inspector who sat beside me as I drove the car which had met the accident. He did not speak the whole way. This was the first time in my life I was in a Police Station for a different reason, for something I had not done but the police did not know. They carried on with their work. I was offered a chair in the backyard of the station and a cup of tea was offered. The police said that a FIR had been lodged against an unknown person, no name was mentioned. The family of the boy and other neighbors were distressed and agitated. A young boy had lost his life I could completely envision what was going through the child’s mother and father and three other siblings. We had also lost a son. Later I found out that Jamshed Khan was a native of KPK settled in Rawalpindi for many years now. A proud man with a strong demeanor who held himself very well in this tragic hour.  He was an extremely poor man who earned his living through daily wages as a day laborer at building worksites. His work was not guaranteed. After three days when infuriation and frustration had subsided I met Jamshed in an office with Jamshed’s friends and relatives who had traveled for condolence, more so with the man who was responsible for the death of his son. I told them who I was. All of them were calm, some arms folded stood gazing at me and others seated. A couple of elders spoke, Jamshed was not one of them. He must have uttered few sentences only. I was completely heartbroken to see Jamshed in his dirty and tattered clothes. He was completely calm and only said I should not have left the scene of the accident. I felt very small, insignificant, embarrassed and could not tell them especially Jamshed that I was not the one in the car. Till today he does not know. He should continue to believe it was me on that fateful day when his son died. I think this arrangement I should take to the grave. It is better this way. It affects no one but me and me alone. The entire purpose of the whole incident will loose its value. I should continue to hold this weight inside me. I will do that, I have no doubt whatsoever as I have not kept no other option to exercise. When all had said what they wanted and some few interjections. I agreed with everything they said.  I told them, that I am also a father who has lost a son. I knew what the family was going through. I very submissively and with moderation said less. Jamshed’s other three kids attentively watched me and were absorbed in their own thoughts. They looked wiped out as the man who sat before them was to be blamed for departure of their brother from this life. A few days later I was again put on the spot by their mother who was devastated and stunned as she shed tears in grief. I apologized with all who were present on this enormous tragedy which resulted. The next day I requested Jamshed I would like to visit his wife at his home which was not far away. I also told him that Omair his eldest son would remain my responsibility for education as long as he continued his studies. I offered him the best schooling in an Army Public School. I somehow failed to convince him to take my offer. He did not accept it but thanked for a monthly stipend for his son’s education. Omair studies in Class 9 now. His elder sister is taking her matric examinations.

The next day I walked through a very narrow alley and as I emerged out of it Jamshed showed me his son’s grave which was freshly covered with flowers, not more than 25-30 meters from where he lived in a two very small somber looking abode. He told me he built it with his own hands with pieces of brick. I climbed a very steep and narrow stairs top of which a small space, with pieces of cloth, haphazardly sewed covering the top to protect from the sunlight and heat. There were two rooms, I sat on a charpoy. Jamshed’s wife soon came in and sat on the floor and started crying. I also sat down and consoled her that it was the will of Allah and nothing could be done. His time was up. It is extremely difficult to tell a mother that. She talked about him as she mumbled with her tears flowing. I prayed for the departed soul. Later I offered money to Jamshed all I had in the bank. He would not take. I explained it was not a compensation for his son. It was the only thing right now to atone. As I came out of the room I took permission to see the kitchen, bathroom, and toilet. Very small rooms. I thought I will bring them to some shape. All was done with the help of a very dear friend Sohail. He also offered to plaster the whole house from inside. The angle of the stairs was adjusted and widened. The only thing Jamshed asked was to bore a water hole as he had to fetch water from afar. We did that for him as well. The water source developed now serves  4-5 houses in his narrow street.

A year and a half after the accident, one day Jamshed’s wife called me. She first asked me to vow that I would not discuss the matter with Jamshed, her husband. I promised what she wanted. She asked me only one question, ‘did Jamshed asked for the money I had paid to him’. I told her ‘ Jamshed is poor but he is a man who has pride and never once asked for financial help”. I inquired why she was asking. She completely took me by surprise when she said she still has the money as it was my ‘Amanat’ and had not been spent. She confessed despite for days the kids slept without food, she did not touch that money. I explained to her that was for them to spend in any way they wanted to spend. The women had set clear boundaries and rules for herself. I was exceedingly impressed by her character.

I visit Jamshed after every month or two to inquire of his welfare. He continues to do odd daily jobs. One day we sat and chatted. I told him about the entire episode in hindsight. I told him this accident happened to bring us together for so many reasons. This accident could have happened with anyone, anything, a tractor trolley, a motor cab, a van but instead, it was my car. A person who was to be aligned with him to do things which he did not imagine would happen. We both had lost a child. We both understood each other’s pain but we never talked about it. I still have plans to find for him a permanent source of income.

When we revisit our life we see the path it has taken. How one incident, how one decision we had taken in our life has led us to charter a course to another place, to another person. How one is intertwined with another. Good and bad things will happen which will open a door to take us to another directly or indirectly. No matter what it will place you at a point where we all stand in our respective lives. This is the position which allows you the introspection and soul-searching. I believe I am placed in Jamshed’s life. Allah took away his son and brought me to him. This unquestionably and beyond doubt a GIFT OF FATE for me and me alone. I have though told my sons not to disconnect themselves with Jamshed and his family after me.

” Every one lives in his own time” Mushtaq Ahmad Yousafi












28 April, 2005

One that ruins us.
It has built us and we divided some.
Sometimes it did aspire us.
Saddens us by a happiness stolen from us.
It seeks something that eyes cannot see.
Blind us from what we have.
Struggle we hard for which is better and forget one that preceded us.
For our fate is a little unknown to us but still destined by just that word and description of itself.
We believe in it and take refuge underneath our fate.
It pleases us no more to know our fate, perfect it’s state, bitter it is then if known to us.
Elusive it is and allude must you not before something more could be said about fate.
For it can never change itself when it is done or a fate that await us ahead.
Our fate is then nothing but fully done every time.
Complete by a fate in our belief of it and most fateful when believed.
Fate of Being.
Man of Fate.
Fate of himself and that of his fate unknown.
Change you cannot the remembrance of it and by a fate to remember again.
Follow the understanding of fate and which fails to understand make our fate know us differently every time.
Know we must our fate when done and undo none when so unknown is that fate.
Concealed is our fate and reveal it does if felt and deceives us again our knowing about fate.
Fortune is fate too by sense a poor in that fate good and poor it is when please it cannot a poor fate.
Contend we may with our fate yet fail we do in our fate of conviction.
Aware it becomes fate of our past and succeed do we not for that fate of future.
Concede if you cannot and blame be that fate for misgivings bestowed upon our fate.
Part fair or perchance is our fate by a faith which we do not have for that fate.
We have all fate to give everyone and any thing that gives some fate again.
Fate moves us ahead where it might be a better fate for us.
Our chances are but fulfilment for a fate and future.
A fate it is by chance of our own and that given to somebody by us.
Fate that grows on us and a future which await our fate.
Patient we become in our fate, careful it is when reminded of and relied we have on fate.
Assured that we are of fate and secure when it is favoured most.
Forget we must not when it is found and understanding be that fate only.
Understood we did some of fate and advance our fate further by understanding of it.
Then our fate is fine and beautiful which that fate finds or evades us by our fate too.
For that deserve fate which has something full and fine for us. So a being of fate is well where he finds fate and a little faith for his fate that is somewhere lost.
And him who loses fate for himself is by fate too and so is his fate.
Believe we should to recover loss of fate and tell those who lost some.
For then fate sees no more from what one can or a fate that sees someone.
Fate that can change by a thought or sight it has for itself.
Thoughts there be many and a fate some.
Some of it is also fate of my own.
I have shared some with others and seldom remembered it all.
We all have fate to lead us.


Sunday, July 8, 2012

Meet Tahir—Interview from Across the World!

Tahir with his two grandchildren, Eimaan and Mustafa.

Today I have a very special interview from one of my readers who recently reached out to me on a post about creativity. Muhammad Tahir is his name, he’s a courageous father who’s living through the tragic loss of his oldest son who suffered from bipolar disorder. Blessed with an amazing ability to write poetry, his son, Nasir Mahmood lost his life to suicide 5 years ago. Today, Tahir has decided to open up about his son and his illness with hopes to reach the many parents like him and children like his son so he can make a positive change. Please welcome Tahir and if you’re moved to do so, please leave any messages you may have for him in the comment section below, he hopes to hear from you!

Welcome Tahir, I’m so touched that you wanted to share your story with us. I know this wasn’t an easy decision and I want you to know that I’m so grateful for your courage. I along with my readers are reading with open hearts with a hope to learn from your family.

To start the interview, can you introduce yourself and share a little about who you are and where you’re from?
Let me from the very outset thank you for providing me a forum where I can talk about this tragedy which has struck me and my family. Very briefly who I am. I am a retired Major General from Pakistan Army. I am presently living in Islamabad where I build my own house after my retirement from the Army in 2008. I served at different places and varying appointments of the army.

Tahir in his uniform with granddaughter Eimaan
when she was 1 1/2 years old.

I now have two sons and a daughter after Nasir Mahmood whom we all called “Moody” left us. He was the eldest and was born on March 21, 1975. We did not call him “Moody” because he was moody, it was his last name “Mahmood” that we changed to “Moody”.

I served for 38 years in the military. I served abroad as Lieutenant Colonel in Somalia from November 1993 to March 1995. And again as a Major General in Liberia UN mission as a Deputy Force Commander. My elder son, Muhammad Ali, is currently in Australia and my younger son, Muhammad Bilal, lives with us and is studying Law. Mariam is elder to Bilal and is married and has two kids, Eimaan who is 11 years old and Mustafa who is 7 years old.

Nasir Mahmood, “Moody”, Tahir’s son who died on May 4, 2007 of suicide. This picture was taken in 2004 in Dubai where he worked for 5 months or so. My wife says, “Though Moody is smiling in this picture, she sees pain in his eyes.” This was the time frame when Moody’s illness started to take shape and in his workplace he started secluding himself by reading all the time.

Can you tell us about your son Moody?
Nasir Mahmood, alias “Moody”, was born in Lahore on March 21, 1975. He was a quiet child and not naughty like some children are. There was nothing extraordinary which I should have noticed or bring out at this point. Yes, he was fond of dressing well. He was not bright in studies and like many parents I had to constantly keep telling him to study.

When he was about 17 years old, I now recall in hindsight that he was a moody guy. He would take on something and would pursue relentlessly.

When he was 19 years old, he wanted to do hotel management and decided he should go to Russia and do his studies for 3-4 years. I sent him there and he arrived at a university in St. Petersburg. He was required to do his year long course of Russian language. I was worried about him being alone.

After earning his Russian Diploma, he called me and said that he does not want to pursue his studies and would like to return. He came back to Pakistan. Back home we did not know what he’ll do next, so he started preparing for his Bachelors Degree. Then he fell in love with a girl who we did not know.

In Eastern culture the parents will never allow this kind of relationship and neither the children will share such flings. I am not sure, but his love affair may have caused him to hit rock bottom. I was in Somalia when my wife told me that he had cut his wrist perhaps because she rejected him. He survived this first suicide attempt.

After two years, he told us that he wanted to marry Sonia (I don’t know if this was the same girl). I did not approve as he was too young with nothing to show for—no job, no back up. The girl was a year or two older than him. She was rich but her reputation was tainted and some people raised eyebrows about her lifestyle. Moody and Sonia were madly in love. They decided that either they will marry each other or they won’t marry at all.

Then one day he said that he was getting married tomorrow and wanted us to join. We were shocked when we found out that he told the girl’s parents that he and his parents have agreed. They issued invitation cards for the marriage.

When I told him that he should go ahead and marry but count me out as I never agreed to him marrying this girl in the first place and this was not my decision but a family decision. Anyway he did not go and I do not know what happened. The girl Sonia broke up and I later came to know she went to the US.

During this time he did start a job in Lahore away from us. He earned well. He started to play golf and went crazy with it and became very good. He would swing and swing for hours and would proudly tell me that he was driving the ball over 300 Meters. Day in and out it was only golf. He went crazy for the game. Bought expensive golf clubs. Always selected the best things for himself no matter what the price tag was. This lasted for some time till he started reading books. He was reading hours and hours and finished book after book staying up all night. Little did I know he was going through an amazing metamorphosis. I noticed that whatever he did he would pursue it madly for few months and perfect it. This was now year 2003.

Then came another brain wave. He wanted to go to Germany to study in a German University. I told him without German Language it was a no go. I never thought that he would learn German. He perfected his language skills to an extent that he read and memorised Shakespeare’s Hamlet in German. He caught me by complete surprise, something I never expected would happen. As parents, we sometimes fail so badly to know our children.

Moody in 2006 a year before he died.
He would keep his whole head shaved and used to say
“This is the ‘in thing’ these days and it’s liked.”

Then one day we had a disagreement on his choice of University abroad which was beyond my means. There was no way I could afford it. He tore all his forms and left home. We did not speak for a month.

Then a friend of mine called me and told me that my son does not speak with anyone and I should take him to a psychologist. I asked Moody and told him about this. He laughed and said that he reads books in his spare time when he’s not working and he can see that other people’s mental level is too low and different and that they do not have enough knowledge to discuss issues with him.

Asking my son to go to a psychologist was like telling him he was crazy. In Pakistan it is a taboo and there are not many people pursuing this medical profession. Anyways, he started reading books and I realized that he was writing poems which were very intense and I found it difficult to understand at times. He wrote me letters and we did not notice anything alarming. His new found love for reading books made me happy and I bought quite a number for him. All he did was write and read.

In the end of 2004, Moody’s younger brother Ali got admission in Australia. I advised Moody to go to the same university as his brother was studying. But he wanted the best university and eventually managed admission in ANU, Australian National University. This is where he started showing his first signs of mental illness that I know. He slided fast within 5–6 months which ultimately lead to his death.

Moody in 2006. Notice his beard—he never shaved it till he died. Notice his younger brother Bilal in orange t-shirt (in photo below)—he has that same beard and never shaves it off. Bilal was the first to see Moody after he killed himself. He was very attached to his brother.

Can you share with us the type of symptoms you saw?
My son was never shown to a doctor. It was when he was in Australia and doing his masters in Australia that through his letters which he wrote he started saying that he had a hole on top of his head and had been captured by two spirits. One had taken control of his right arm and the other his neck. He also felt something strike him hard in the groins.

Now when he was sending all these stories I misjudged the whole state of affairs and thought that he would like to extricate himself from the university because he could not do accounting. I insisted that he stay and finish his studies since I had already spent $25–30 thousand dollars.

Between father and son we exchanged many letters. He wrote a total of 22 poems. His writing skills made a 360 degrees turn and something about the quality of his thought and expression surprised me. It was so sudden that for some time I thought it was not his original work.

Here is a sample of Moody’s writings describing his spirits and how they affected him:
I started experiencing tapping on my arms, shoulders, feet, legs and sometimes my thumb or other fingers would flicker momentarily especially when I am writing. Every muscle of my body responds. Even right now I am experiencing this writing to you. But gradually he has started to become more resilient. He communicates with me through words spoken on TV, while I am reading, when I am writing my office work, during conversations with people. I can’t even begin to explain you how difficult living has become when someone is being distracted after every few seconds and is corrected each time. Imagine as if someone grabs me from behind my neck and moves it around to look at certain objects, as he desires me. I try to not move and stay still but I cannot do that because he strangles me by the neck. If I could feel his hand then I can move it away because it is physically possible. My life is living hell in every true sense of my sentences. He is living and acknowledging my thoughts. The sort of thoughts those are mute. No shrink in the world can help me and no medicine can cure it.
After losing another relationship, Moody said that he was returning home. His condition was very bad, he would go barefoot out to Canberra Grave yard. I sent his brother Ali from Sydney to go and see him. He said that he was unwell. Ali boarded him on plane and saw him off.

When he came home he complained about what was wrong with all of us and why everyone was acting strange. He was shown to a doctor who did not tell us much except that he was in depression and then the doctor gave him medication. I had no idea what bipolar disorder was and whether or not he had it. The meds which were prescribed brought him back within 2–3 weeks.

What other unusual symptoms or behaviors did you noticed?
He started reading a lot in Arabi’s book on The Self-Disclosure of God and would watch the movie The Last Temptation of Christ. He believed that the spirits had gained control of his body and that these were Muslim Spirits who were not leaving him alone. One day he wrote me a letter to tell me that he was converting to Christianity. He thought that if he did that, the spirits would leave him alone. This did not happen and in his last letter before he committed suicide he mentioned this fact.

What type of treatment did your son have to treat his illness?
Sadly, my deepest regret and guilt is that I failed to go all out for him. As I was in Liberia, I could not monitor his medication. He stopped taking them and told his mother that the medications were making him slow and despite our best efforts, he skipped medications. I know he must have seen all the side effects of these medications on the computer and also I believe he knew about his disease. He spent all day long in his room and read books. He stopped writing.

You mentioned to me that in your culture, seeking help for mental illness isn’t done and that careers in the mental health field aren’t even pursued because of the stigma. Can you share more about this and how this stigma impacted your son’s life?
It had an impact on us and him as well. At times, Moody would would sit and stare and just smile. One day, he returned after meeting his friends and told his mother that now his friends are also laughing at him. He stopped going out too much. He would not even go to the doctor and my wife who was the only elder at home had absolutely no idea what was going on inside his mind.

I read online in one of your posts that you have guilt about your son’s death. Can you share where this comes from?
First, I was not there for him. Second, I did not gauge the gravity of the situation and allowed him to slide fast. The mere fact that I came to know about bipolar disorder after his death is enough guilt. I have tears in my eyes as I write these lines. I wish that I could revert time. It has impacted my wife and younger son too much as they were the ones who saw him in his room where he killed himself.

Looking back, what would you have done differently?
Oh a lot of things, as you can see it is so obvious. As I was not present, I could not physically follow him. My wife says that, “the children should be listened to”. She thinks his suicide was triggered by him not getting married to Sonia. And she says that he decided to take his life after he came to know that Sonia had gotten married and had a child. That broke the camels back. She repents for not getting him married.

What would you teach other parents based on your experience?
Personally, I think we as parents make lot of mistakes in raising kids. We fail to recognise the true potential of our children. I’m not talking about exceptions. I’m talking run of the mill. My culture and that of the West is very different in raising kids. We keep family together, more of joint family. There is a lot of respect for parents and marriages are mostly arranged through the consent of boy and girl. The children tell you so much without saying and we fail to notice things which are right in front of our eyes. We take things for granted. We do not heed to what children want, sometimes their demands are excessive and sometimes we replicate what our parents did and behaved with us. Sometimes we’re over protective and sometimes we do not care. A middle ground is the best.

What would you say to someone who was suffering with mental illness but was afraid of treatment because of the stigma or social impact of a diagnosis?
I would tell him first and foremost about the great men and women, the achievers of so many varied things in history, in every field, who have also suffered and yet achieved. We need to tell them that, “yes we know you suffer in moods, but everything is okay.” I believe most people with bipolar disorder are not listened to, when they tell us about their problems, we brush it aside. We become intolerant of their mood swings. We need a big sympathetic heart and open mind to listen and bear with them.

As a final word, what message would you leave with us?
The last word is, never take anything for granted.

I will close after telling what Moody did before he killed himself.

I was in Liberia and it was about 5:00 in the evening. My wife was just lying on her bed when Moody came and sat on the bed besides her and said, “Mama do you pray for me?” She said, “what kind of question is this, I pray for all of you!” he repeated his question at least three more times.

In his last days, he was very quiet, soft and low tone.

After 20–25 minutes of discussion, he got up and started going towards the door. My wife Tallat said to him, “Moody we will look for a girl for you to marry.”

He said, “Mama it is no use, these spirits do not let me live and they will ruin my marriage, no use, it’s too late.” He said this and left while my wife offered up her evening prayers.

Bilal, my youngest son, went to the computer and saw the letter Moody just emailed me. It actually started by this line “AGHA this is my last letter to you in this life ———.

Bilal ran to his mom and shared this. My wife took a minute to finish her prayers and said to Bilal that today, again, Moody is not in his right mind.

Moody’s room was in the far corner of the house. When they entered his room, Moody was bleeding and the pistol was on the floor and his head was backwards. All hell broke loose. Bilal dragged his mother out of the room. The driver was called and he was taken quickly to the hospital emergency. It was too late, he had already left us.

Earlier that evening, after sending me his final email, Moody came and sat in the TV lounge with me. We did not talk, he sat for a few minutes and went to his room. After 20 minutes, on my way to the airport, I told my wife Moody had gone to sleep as I do not see light in his room.

I left and then while at the airport, I was told he came looking for me and told my wife he was awake. I called him and we exchanged goodbyes. I told him I will call him as soon as I reach Liberia. Those were my last words I spoke to him.

BUT I MUST TELL YOU SOMETHING! Something strange I felt, especially when I was on my last journey from Accra to Monrovia, I felt something in my heart—I was sad for not meeting him. THIS WAS EXACTLY the time he committed suicide. That pain I still feel in my heart. It does not let me go.

Thank you for patiently reading my story everyone. You must read my lens on Squidoo about Moody’s writings (see link below).

Best wishes,

Tahir with his family today. Son Bilal in orange t-shirt, wife Tallat,
daughter Mariam with her children Eimaan and Mustafa April 2011.
Missing in the picture is elder son Ali who is studying in Australia

Tahir posted a poem Moody wrote to his brother Bilal in 2005.
Bilal later, in 2009, wrote his first two poems
in honor of his brother’s memory.

* * *

I know that Tahir is anxiously awaiting your responses to his interview, please leave him a message, comment or question below, he would love to hear from you!

You might also like:
Meet Erika
Interviewing Mama Bear
Meet San—Daughter with Bipolar Disorder
Posted by Mama Bear at 9:41 PM
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Labels: interview, suicide

HeatherJuly 8, 2012 at 10:02 PM
Thanks so much for sharing your story. I’m glad that you are reaching out across cultural boundaries and beyond the stigma of talking about mental illness to share what your family and your son Moody went through. I’m so sorry that you had to lose him to this illness. My prayers are with you.


TahirJuly 10, 2012 at 2:20 AM
Heather, Thank you for your comments, which are highly appreciated.


Jess MJuly 9, 2012 at 5:47 AM
Thank you for sharing your story. I’m terribly sorry for your loss. It is clear by your words alone how much you love your children. They are very lucky to have you.


KimJuly 9, 2012 at 9:41 AM

Thank you for sharing your story. My father has bipolar disorder, so I have experienced growing up with a parent with mental illness, but not a child. I have 2 sons and sometimes worry that they may have bipolar, as I know it often does not become apparent until a person is in his/her 20s.

I was brought to tears by your story and so appreciate your openness, especially since there is still such a stigma about mental illness in your culture. I know when my father began showing symptoms, in the mid 1970s, there was much more stigma here in the US than there is now, and that made it even more difficult for my parents to get the support they needed.

Thank you again. I’m certain your story will help others.


TahirJuly 10, 2012 at 2:22 AM
Kim, Thank you very much. I hope in you your father has a strong support beside him. Such is life and it goes on.


MegJuly 9, 2012 at 10:12 AM
What a tough story. I am so sorry for your loss and for your son’s struggle with his mind. Thanks for sharing.


AnonymousJuly 9, 2012 at 10:34 AM
As a parent of child with BP illness I am grateful for your story and your generosity in sharing it. Everytime a story is told and we realize that this affects people form all cultures, social and economics standings, race, creed, sex, it chips away at the stigma and every chip gets us closer to acceptance and understanding.

Thank you for your unselfishness and honesty!


AnonymousJuly 9, 2012 at 8:30 PM
Thank you, Tahir and family, for sharing your story. My deepest condolences to your family for losing your precious son to this illness. So many of us are going through the same thing with our loved ones. God bless you.


AnonymousJuly 9, 2012 at 9:01 PM
Thank you for sharing such a difficult story, yet I feel so honored to have read it and to learn about your amazing son, Moody. I am so sorry for all the pain you have suffered, but please know that you have encouraged me to be a better parent to my young daughter who is struggling with possible bi-polar illness. I will take nothing for granted, as you said, and I will continue to learn from her and grow with her. What our children struggle with makes then the bravest people in the world. You are a tremendous father and I am honored to know your story. Despite all the miles that separate us and the cultural differences, we can understand that watching your child suffer is horrible. We embrace you and understand. Thank you!


TahirJuly 10, 2012 at 2:25 AM
Cathy thank you for your kind words. My prayers are for your daughter and whole family.


ShariJuly 10, 2012 at 2:05 AM
Hi Tahir:

Thank you for sharing such a moving story. I am so sorry for the loss of your son, Moody! You are not alone in the pain you are suffering.

I have Bipolar Disorder and my nine-year old son also has Bipolar Disorder. He is getting as much help as possible for being a child and he is struggling but doing better. I am stable and doing good with the illness.

I am honored to have read your story and I appreciate your openness and honesty. I have often wondered how other cultures deal with mental illnesses. I would love to try and learn about others from different cultures so we can support one another.




TahirJuly 10, 2012 at 12:01 PM
I have all my prayers for you and your son. I am sure you will keep solid and face everything. Resolve is important. The best thing all the cultures have in common are human feelings, they transcend caste, colour, creed and religion. Thank you for your comments and thank you Mama Bear


AnonymousJuly 10, 2012 at 9:12 AM
Hello, Mama Bear! Someday I will figure out how to reset my account and write on your wall. Until then, I appreciate you taking e-mails!

Please let Tahir know I appreciate him sharing his story. The signs of depression are there, with my oldest son. (He is 12.) After reading about Tahir’s family and their son Moody, I will take nothing for granted. He reminded me to really listen, to my son, and act on what I hear. Too often, I give him a hug and brush those feelings aside, thinking all will be O.K. My son internalizes his feelings. By the time I realize something might be wrong, he is depressed.

Sometimes, I need to be reminded to check in with him and to always listen, really listen and share with him how to handle his emotions. Tahir sharing his story has already made a difference. Thank you, Mama Bear, for giving him this outlet.

Sincerely, Nina


TahirJuly 10, 2012 at 11:58 AM
I have no words to express myself when I read all these comments. I may not be replying to every one but I can see there are so many all over and every person who writes anything has already started to make difference to their lives and those near and dear to them. These are not ordinary situations and we must act well above the ordinary. Thank you Mama bEar you will be rewarded both here and hereafter, there is absolutely no doubt in my mind. I will copy and past my feelings on a couple of more comments.


EJuly 10, 2012 at 4:56 PM
Thanks you for sharing, Tahir-the love of our children who suffer binds us all. I have learned from you and your experience and will pray for you and your family.


Majid EhsanJuly 11, 2012 at 4:49 AM
Dear Sir,
Thanks for sharing your story so candidly and truthfully. May Almighty Allah grant you and your entire family patience and fortitude to withstand this shock (ameen). I can understand how difficult it would have had been for you to speak about such a tragic and extremely private issue just for others to learn. I can also understand how challenging it would have been for you to select the words best suited to express your inner feelings. But sir, the type and level of assistance and guidance you have provided to parents of teen aged children like me through this story is unparalleled indeed.
Thanks a lot. May Allah bless you for this good deed.


TahirJuly 11, 2012 at 12:00 PM
Thank you so much Majid. You should visit when you are in Islamabad we will chat old times.


AnonymousJuly 11, 2012 at 6:05 PM
Tahir, thank you so much for sharing your story. I can’t imagine the courage it took for you to tell it. My son has borderline autism and anxiety. It is a struggle every day. I am moved by what you have learned and are willing to share with us..despite a culture that is not open to these things. Your wife’s words in particular struck me very hard, ” We must listen to our children.” I will remember those words and your story.

Please know, that Moody has renewed my commitment to my son. I get so tired some times. I feel the pressure of time. My son in 10. I want him to be a resilient adult. But, I must listen to him more often…as your wife said. Moody is helping me now help my son and every time I look at my son, I will think of Moody and how precious they all are. I will also remember that no matter how much we love them…sometimes we cannot save them.

May you find some peace. With deepest gratitude to you and your family.

My condolences.


AnonymousJuly 11, 2012 at 6:10 PM
Dear Tahir, I just wrote you about my 10 year old above ..I forgot to add how much I enjoyed the pictures of you family. You’re grandchildren are beautiful. Thank you and your family for allowing us to learn and grow from all of you.


TahirJuly 12, 2012 at 10:55 AM
Thank you so much. When I read comments from people such as you and others I feel satisfied and in a way happy that because of Moody there is change parents have realised. What else do I want. Thank you gain and my best wishes for your son.


MareJuly 12, 2012 at 2:47 PM
Dear General,
Since the first time we communicated online and you told me about Moody, and I read his suicide note, I wept terribly. I still keep all of you in my prayers, and I know that your stories will be a blessing to many many others.

Blessings, Mare


TahirJuly 13, 2012 at 2:08 AM
Thank you Mare and I would like here to your courage and fortitude, you are one strong woman who has borne so much and done so much for your kids your husband and also your own problems of eye. Thank you and my prayers for you


Brig Jehanzeb Raja (Retd), Pakistan ArmyJuly 12, 2012 at 11:09 PM
I know Tahir for 41 years now. We were cadets in PMA together, he the tallest, me the shortest in the platoon. The bond of friendship never left us, we met each other’s families, children on all occasions when visiting our home town in Rawalpindi.There is still a very strong bond between us, warm at heart, and ever reaching.
In between the rush of profession, race to promotion, personal committments we tend to ignore our children and fail to see their inner desires and hopes. I think most military fathers go through this in their lives, but very few see the devastation of the loss of a son, like Tahir has gone through.
I know that beneath the veneer of determination, faith and a stoic poise towards the world to put up a brave face, Tahir has a very warm and generous heart, he is open and forgiving, a very good father who only wanted the best for his children. For this to happen to him, is an irony indeed, but such are the impacts of fate, destiny and life.I will always remain your friend, no matter what, and pray that Allah in his mercy will give you the strength to carry on and be proud of what you have done.


TahirJuly 13, 2012 at 1:40 AM
My friend Jingo, these words coming from you speak volumes and I will cherish them like always with bottom of my heart. As you can see from the comments above we have all have our joys and sadness to keep and share but when you can make some difference with words they are very powerful medium and medicine. Thank you once again my friend; my prayers and blessings to you and your family.


AnonymousJuly 13, 2012 at 10:14 AM
Both my boys and their dad have Bi Polar. To this day their lives have been extremely difficult. For me it was very painful and I don’t like to look back because they have come such a very long way. All are on medications. But I will help others if they want. I don’t mine sharing.


AnonymousJuly 13, 2012 at 10:15 AM
Dear Tahir,
I just finished reading your story, thank you so much for having shared it with me!
I feel truthfully grateful and honored because it has given me a deeper insight about what all what you went through… I am really moved because it happened when we were in Liberia and I was not aware of anything when we met! I thought it happened long a go, but it was so recent!
I must say, i admire your strength during that time…

Again thank you for sharing, truly moving…
Enjoy your grandchildren, laugh as much as you can, and all the best for you and your family
Warmly, eva


Jessica BAugust 22, 2012 at 9:42 AM
Dear Tahir,

I pray for peace for you and your family. You are not alone. Although all of our stories are slightly different,they all contain much heartache and contain a lot of common themes. Your story can help many people and I appreciate how open you are with it.

I can relate to your pain. I too have a son with a mood disorder. He is almost 17 and we have been through a lot since the age of 3. We have two other boys that are “dealing” with this situation. My husband was also diagnosed with bipolar about 10 years ago. On top of that my father attempted to commit suicide 12 years ago. He has struggled with depression since my parent’s divorce. To make things even more complicated, I began having grand mal seizures about 8 years ago and extreme stress tends to trigger them.
To help cope with all the negative, I try not to dwell in the past, but focus on the positive moments in a day. Even if it’s a simple as walking outside and feeling a breeze across my cheek and taking a breath. It isn’t always that easy, but each moment is a gift.
Love your family, their quirks, their smiles, and their presence good or bad.
Know you are not alone…there are others out there that feel your pain and know their is always hope. I pray peace overcome you and your family! Love one another every day!



kanwalkhanMarch 12, 2014 at 2:40 PM
I literally have tears in my eyes after reading this.I am a psychology student and just taught mood disorders. It is highly genetic as well so it needs to be kept an eyes upon. I want to do something good for mental health of mankind. You are very right in saying that psychology or psychiatry studies are a taboo in our society and we need to change it up. may Allah give you and your family patience. you people are really strong and courageous. Remember In prayers Uncle.


AnonymousDecember 5, 2014 at 3:12 PM
dear tahir sir,
i am a med doctor and came across this blog. i am shattered to hear the story. sir u were our Chairman board of Governors of cck when you were commanding a division in kohat . may Allah bless u. please if u have any e mail id do share it with me would like to talk to you
DR abdul M Bangash