We believe that our death is ordained by God before we are born, and it cannot be changed. Every time I visited my 91year old mother-Amijan- at my sister Sabah’s house, I would say goodbye to her when leaving, and always think “will this be the last time”? Often, she would also have tears in her eyes, or ask why are you leaving so soon? Each goodbye was part of the goodbye process as her stroke 15 years ago continued to weaken her body. In late November she was taken to hospital for 3 weeks after another stroke and lung infection (not COVID related) followed by 3 weeks at my brother Omar’s house. Yesterday, Friday after Maghrib time, she left this earthly existence only a few hours after being taken to hospital ICU thankfully.
Today, I feel sadness and gladness all at once. I am sad that I will not be able to look at my mother’s face and see that unconditional mutual love reflecting back in infinity. Each of us yearns to see our mother’s face which mirrors back our very existence, our survival and our thriving lives. And yet I am so glad that she lived to enjoy a wonderful, long life as head of a large and loving extended family. She was the oldest daughter, as am I, and as such I felt a strong connection to her- we did all the firsts in the family, e.g. having kids! I am so blessed that she saw all my grandchildren, and that my four kids and husband were able to visit her a few weeks ago. I feel blessed to be part of her very talented and educated extended family of siblings and cousins-she is survived by 2 younger sisters- Rasheeda a doctor and Khurshid an educator and two sister-in-laws- Mamijan and Ikram Aryne and their talented families. She has lived in so many places in the world and adapted to each culture gracefully and taught us to do that too. She was not much of a talker ever- that was my father’s job. She was a doer, whether it was knitting, sewing, crocheting, cleaning, cooking and baking. Her sewing was famous, as my friends would admire her amazing gift of tailoring and patterning.
She had a habit of saying sorry, even if someone tripped on their own on the street, as if she had anything to do with it. That’s how simple and kind she was. She served so many family members when they were sick or old, without complaint. For her, work or effort was ibadat (worship), and she jumped in to help no matter who it was. I never once heard her complain about “work”! She met and knew so many of our extended family and friends, who remember her sweet and kind personality, and her ever ready smile, from my high school friends who loved her cooking to all our friends later on as she came to help and raise my children. Her stoic and Victorian attitude towards everything got her through strokes and falls valiantly, again with no complaints ever. Sometimes, she would have a fall when visiting me, and my friend Sajjad would run over to help; but she would bounce right back like a cat with 9 lives.
For my children, Mona, Reza, Sheema and Sonia, she was all grandparents combined, and they loved her dearly. We were all planning to see her in March for her 91st birthday, but COVID-19 arrived, and we had to do with a Zoom call. As my daughter Sonia put it: “I’ll always remember sweet Nanijan smiling, loving life and serving others with such graciousness and selflessness. She cooked the best meals ever for us, sewed our clothes like our 6th grade promotion dresses, wrote down prayers for us to memorize and taught us so much in her own unique and magnificient way. I’ll miss her so much.”
I am thankful to my sister Sabah who took care of her since her original stroke in 2005, and my brother Omar who was helped so much in the caregiving as well as my sister Farah and brother Pasha. I am full of gratitude for having been born to this beautiful person inside and out, who gave so much and never took much for herself, a selfless minimalist always ready to help anyone with no expectation in return. May her journey back to her Maker be bathed in light and peace, Ameen.