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Our Self-Written Obituaries – Samreen Shahbaz, Hunza, Pakistan

Our Self-Written Obituaries – Samreen Shahbaz, Hunza, Pakistan

The 134th death.

[Text and self-photo by Samreen Shahba]

It was the last Saturday of November. The village and its inhabitants were still recovering from the heavy rain the night before. Little did they know that the old woman running the neighborhood dhaba had passed away.

Samreen Shahbaz died during her sleep while it was raining. The 60-year-old’s body was found by the school teacher who often visited her in the morning on her way to the school. Some withered marigold flowers, burnt cigarettes and a half-finished bottle of chardonnay were found on the table next to her body. Several unfinished manuscripts of her books were also found in her room.

Ms Shahbaz is best remembered by her peers for her work in history/cultural anthropology. She wasn’t a well-known scholar but did manage to teach her favorite subject at couple of universities. She was also a passionate street photographer, though it never brought her any fame. After retiring at the age of 45, she moved to a remote village in Hunza up in the mountains. The village neighbors affectionately remember Ms Shahbaz as the old lady who spent her days reading old Urdu novels and Persian poetry at her dhaba and staring at the changing hues of the valley. When not running her dhaba, she was mostly seen flânering in the village bazaars.

Her funeral has been held in the same village where she was put to rest by her close friends and two brothers under a tree in the shadows of Rakaposhi. She is survived by three cats, one dog, one parrot, fifteen cartons of books, and one rustic bicycle.

Our Self-Written Obituaries invites people to write their obituary in 200 words. The idea is to share with the world how you will like to be remembered after you are gone. (May you live a long life, of course!) Please mail me your self-obit at

Be well wherever you are

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