There’s Nothing Stronger Than a Broken Heart That Has Fixed Itself

It’s strange how often a heart must be broken before the years can make it wise. Earlier this year, my heart once again had broken into pieces. Unlike my regular narratives, this time it had nothing to do with men. It was worst than that. It was the day I flew out of a country I could no longer call home. It was the day I hugged my grandma for (most likely) the last time, kissed my best friends goodbye and tore down a hard-earned career I’d built for almost a decade. I soared into the air with the most severe heartbreak I’d thought would never heal.

A few days later on a snow-white Monday, I turned 30. That morning I walked across Alexandria Bridge in Ottawa. I glanced at the frozen river under the bridge, thinking how my life would forever change. I always thought I’d live the way others do: get a job, buy a house, maybe a car, marry a woman and breed and grow old and get very sick and die.

But no, I decided to be an immigrant. Not that it’s a big deal; perhaps we’re all immigrants at some points anyway. First we leave our mother’s wombs for air, then from small towns to polluted cities in pursuit for a better living. Some of us just happen to leave entire countries, and I’m one of us. Nevertheless, it’s just so frightening to lose a home at the risk of never finding one again.

Nevertheless, it’s just so frightening to lose a home at the risk of never finding one again…

I deeply believe that every hello and goodbye has been predestined. No meeting is accidental, yet it’s still funny how the universe has been connecting me with people in my life. I’m talking about my random encounter with a Canadian-Australian family in Ottawa who’s now adopting me as part of their little clan. They told me family is who wants me with them, and not just about genes. They love me; they said their lives are richer because of my presence.

I’m also talking about my encounters with two kindhearted men and a wonderful lady in the same city. The first one was the best roommate anyone could ask for, another one was a guy who’d put real efforts to make me feel less alone when I turned into a half-empty-glass kind of person. And the last one was she who’d rush to my house with a pint of ice cream and a bar of chocolate, at 8 in the morning when I had a bad day.

This, too, is about my reunion with a long-lost college friend and his wife who harboured me in their home for weeks when I moved to Toronto without any place to stay, an encounter with two sisters who gave me my first job, and a bond with a Malaysian woman who constantly teaches me about the subtle art of not giving a shit.

It’s also about my friendships with a gentleman in Toronto who showed me how to catch a breath, and with a traveling German girl who taught me that vulnerability is always the right choice because it’s easy to be cold in a world that makes it so very difficult to remain soft.

These people make me fall asleep easily at night, knowing my heart is safe when waking up in the morning.

This has been the greatest and most difficult year of my life. Borrowing Rupi Kaur‘s words, I learned everything’s temporary. Moments. Feelings. People. Flowers. I learned all things come in twos. Life, death. Pain, joy. Sugar, salt. It’s the balance of the universe.

For me personally, it has been the year of hurting so bad but living so good, making friends out of strangers and making strangers out of friends. I learned it’s okay to fall down and lose my spark as long as when I get back up, I rise as the whole damn fire.

It has been the year of realizing that I’m in love with the man in the mirror, who has been through so much but is still standing. I made friends with my body, and thank God I did. It has also been the year of having the courage to say, “I’m sorry for your loss,” to all the men who’d left me before… especially my father.

Last summer when on a date with a guy, he’d ask me an excellent question: “So you inherit your father’s physical look. How about your personality traits? From your mother?” I’d nod and tell him how similar I am with my mom. However, about a couple of weeks ago I gained a different perspective: I am who I am today because of my father. I’m hardworking & loyal because he wasn’t. I’m a fighter because he wasn’t. I have a big vision of family because he didn’t. He set a perfect example of someone I don’t want to be, and I genuinely thank him for that. I thought he screwed me up, but he didn’t. He made me stronger.

No more anger; the heart had healed itself.


I’m writing this piece on my first night in a place I can finally call home. It’s a condo I’m sharing with a young woman who seems like a real gem of a person. In a few weeks, this home will have another heartbeat. A heartbeat of a puppy I’d name Phoebe Buffay, after a fictional TV character who made me laugh everyday during my lonely jobless first months in Canada. She’s going to make my world, that’s a bit too quiet lately, lively.

Looking back at that frosty day when I turned 30, I can’t believe with what I’ve accomplished in the last eight months. I’m even a better person than I was when this month started. With those people around me, a promising start of my career, now a home and soon Phoebe… I feel like I’m in my prime.

I no longer care if the glass is half full or half empty, because I own the fucking glass.


This post’s title is inspired by a powerful Netflix Special Nanette by Hannah Gadsby. Photo taken in Cincinnati, Ohio, November 2016 by Asyifa H. Putri.

10 thoughts on “There’s Nothing Stronger Than a Broken Heart That Has Fixed Itself

  1. You, my friend, are the gem of a person. In my life I only know a few person with such golden personalities – you’re one of them and I’m proud to know you. I told my family how awesome you are and asked them to read your blog. My mom’s comment: “Unlike many people, your friend isn’t afraid to show raw emotions in his writings. That’s what makes me want to read more.”

    Congratulations on your new home, hope I can fly up north very soon and see you!


  2. I’ve known you for what now, 12 years? It’s true what that Ottawa family said. Your presence always makes everyone’s life richer. You make my life richer with your intelligence, quick wit, weird sense of humor, courage, determination… and amazing, amazing life journey. I treasure every conversation we’ve had, and I wish we could talk more. THERE’S NO DOUBT THAT ONE DAY YOU’LL MAKE A WONDERFUL FATHER EVERY KID COULD ASK FOR!


  3. Hello Zulfikar, I’m a gay man living in Toronto. This blog is very moving, and your words are so powerful. I’m intrigued to get to know you in person and hear about your stories. I believe you can see my email address, so feel free to drop me a message should you’d like to grab coffee/drinks together.


  4. My gay brother would’ve not killed himself had he got to know you. Thanks for writing this emotional and honest piece. You inspired me to heal my broken heart. Let me say this once more: thank you.


  5. You really are the master of putting words together! I cried reading this, and I’m in the streetcar! Can’t wait for another writing session with you this weekend 🙂


  6. I’m speechless. I’ve never been through what you’ve been through, but somehow I can deeply relate to what you wrote. Maybe because we’re all broken in our own way, and you can perfectly capture our vulnerability in your magical words.


    Can’t wait to read your book. I love you.


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