In my entire life, I had never heard my Ammi ever express that she wanted to be fit or live long. Like every woman raised to get married and live with her husband, she spent all her life looking after her husband, children and home. It was in the midst of all this she did her second MA, MPhil and PhD just because Papa loved it. She was mentally a home-maker always.
After Papa’s death, when she was 59, she became even more submissive and lost all her confidence, that Papa had worked to see in her as a professional woman. It’s been 22 years since Papa’s passing in August 1998.
Like a doting Nani, and that too a very talented, designer one, she got herself busy in designing and instructing our tailor to sew fancy ghararas, angarkhas, peshwas, lehngas, reversible sadris, etc for Fatima, until she became frail and unable to travel independently. Once in my emotional moments, when Fatima was in her preteens, I told her, “I pray you to be present in Fatima’s shaadi.”
And she smiled and told me, “Arrey beta, ismein tou kam se kam 15-20 saal hain. Itna kaun jiyega?”
Lo and behold, MashaAllah Ammi made it, and she attended Fatima’s wedding, and all the events.
When we lost Fasih, I was very worried for Ammi as at 80, it was not fair to face such tragey at her age. And also because she loved him very dearly. He was a very caring and a gentle son-in-law. And ofcourse because of the mindset of her daughte becoming a widow in front of her must have been is no less devastating. She did not express any such grief to me. All she does is just looks through the phone camera into my eyes all the time we face-time.
My brothers have been exceptionally supportive all the way across the barriers of thousands of kms, and COVID-19, to all of us, including my kids and my sister-in-law. And as expected, Ammi keeps telling them, “Beta, Ilmana ka bahut khayaal rakhna tamaam zindagi. Donon Bobby aur Ilmana hamesha se bahut mehnat kerte hai, lekin ab Ilmana akeli ho gayee hai.”
The other day I was asking my brother, how is Ammi doing, and I really worry she must be getting weak and yet not epxressing any of it to me.
Guess what my brother replied, “Nahin Ilmana, Ammi has gotten strong. She told me, “Ab mujhe kamzor nahin rehna hai, ab mujhe Ilmana ke liye mazboot hona parega.”
I cried under my pillow after putting the phone down. How much are so many of our loved ones hurt, by this devastating tragedy.
May my Ammi live a 1000 years.
Below are Fatima’s Nikkah pics in Karachi. And see, all of us girls coordinated it so well.
The other is with Ammi when Fatima was born in Makkah.