Weeping eyes, silent sobs, burned faces, empty hands... homeless bodies, abandoned newborns, despondent orphans, tocher-less ladies. I have seen these turning into smiling eyes, pleasing giggles, sanguine faces, fondled hands... sheltered humans, nursed newborns, gleeful children, beaming brides. What name comes to our mind? Is Edhi just the name of a philanthropist? Or is Edhi the definition of altruism? For me, Edhi is a phenomenon... the one who taught the world what social conscience is and how to extend brotherly love.

Normal people dream, communicate their ideas to their followers, make people envisage a mirage, struggle to achieve their aims, and die. In my perspective, this man named Abdul Sattar Edhi resolved to reach his goals before telling people about his yearning. He did not have time to dream; he had to do a lot instead. He concretised his cherished ambition by first establishing a free dispensary and later Edhi Foundation. He had witnessed his mother’s sufferings. He knew what pain is. He knew that “no religion is higher than humanity”. However, he was also cognisant of the fact that “people have become educated, but have not yet become human.” He did not rely on any other soul to serve humanity; he laid the foundations of this legacy, leaving behind on us the only responsibility of donating.

White beard, slate-coloured shalwar kameez, simplicity, struggle, benevolence, selflessness… these words define the saint Abdul Sattar Edhi was. Our eyes have witnessed this legend sitting on walkways and imploring for the needy. We have seen him lifting the several-days-old malodorous corpses of people whom he did not even know. We have seen him as a guardian of thousands of infants and children whose own parents had jilted them. A large fraction of these children was of the illegitimate who were left in Edhi Jhoola. People say that their parents were afraid of or did not want to take their responsibility. I say that their parents trusted Edhi in that he will make the society take care of these children who otherwise would have been eyed as a mere liability. Compassion… magnanimity… tenderness… we can only try to perceive the meanings of these words. For Edhi, on the contrary, these were not just words; he lived by these very fundamental principles of mankind.

Almost all of us struggle to establish an identity that differentiates our personality from the rest, let it be in terms of education, living, health, or death. Abdul Sattar Edhi received no formal education but was enlightened with the greatest teachings of all – humanity. We all are a witness to his unpretentious and modest living. He shunned the idea of receiving medical ministration in any country other than Pakistan. His dead body was carried to Edhi morgue in an Edhi ambulance – not even a bit more than what he had provided to others. In actuality, he delimited the essence of generosity by donating his eyes after giving his life to this nation.

In people’s opinion, no one was more worthy of being awarded a Nobel Peace prize than Abdul Sattar Edhi. I, on the other hand, beg to differ. He did not and does not need an award for the recognition and celebration of his life-long struggle and dedication. His philanthropic commitment to this country and its people was never incentive-oriented. His zeal and commitment to humanity has elevated his stature to such an extent that any peace prize cannot be a peace prize until it is associated with Abdul Sattar Edhi’s name.

I saw Edhi’s children running behind the ambulance carrying his dead body. I say his children crying on his tragic demise. I saw his children praying for him to be in peace in the next world. These children included but were not limited to his biological ones. I am referring to his thousands of children whom he fathered, and by which he taught the world what fathering actually means.

We have lost an altruist. We have lost a saint. We have lost a father.