My Nana, Lubna Javed
I wrote this a few hours after my maternal grandfather passed away in early November, 2015 as one means to cope with his death. Whenever someone asked my Nana how he was doing, he would always have one answer, “Alhamdulillah (Praise be to God), I am doing well.” This was his reply even when he was in great pain and his health condition was at its poorest.
My Nana was my favourite grandparent and someone for whom I have the utmost respect. He was a highly principled and self-made man who instilled in me the values of hard-work, perseverance and the importance of education. He lost his mother when he was a toddler and an only child. They were not well off. They did not have electricity in their house. He burned the midnight oil in its literal sense. He also often studied under street lamps at night and went on to become an ENT Surgeon. During his later years, he also became the Dean of a renowned medical University in South India.
He was a man much ahead of his times. At a time in India when it was rare for one to have finished high school, let alone women, he persisted and made sure his wife, my grandmother, completed her school education. Observing that my grandmother was an exemplary student, he encouraged her to pursue higher education and supported her through it, even after they had two children. She became a doctor herself at a time, place and society where not many women were educated beyond middle school. When he retired and my grandmother still had years of service ahead of her, he had no absolutely no issues with staying home and taking care of it, including having meals cooked and ready for when my grandmother came home. I loved the ‘kichdi’ (rice and lentil dish) that he made. He always fried ‘pappad’ (thin, crisp disc-shaped wafers made from black gram flour) with it. He also made the most flavorful aubergine curry and lemon pickle.
I wrote my first poem when I was 9. It was just 4 lines and was about a snowman. It was something plain like this:
Oh snowman! Do you know
You are made of snow?
Even when you are cold…
You are so bold.
Nana was the one who appreciated my little rhyme so much that I took up writing poetry. I wrote for many years and then stopped as life got busy. He said that my first poem inspired him to write poetry. He wrote many poems and beautiful poetry at that. There is one that he wrote probably about 20 years ago which shred my heart to pieces when I re-read it a few hours after his death:
“Weep not and wail not over one’s inevitable death
Pray for his soul in silent and hushed breath
Good deeds earn His grace and mercy
Pardoned for sins done openly and in secrecy
Live then a life, simple and virtuous and not for wealth
And secure a place, blissful and peaceful in the ‘spiritwealth.’”
Consider yourself fortunate if you have a grandparent, parent or an elder to look after at home. There is great reward for taking care of the old. Anas Ibn Malik (may Allah be pleased with him) narrated that the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) said, “If a young man honors an elderly on account of his age, Allah appoints someone to honor him in his old age.” (At-Tirmidhi) We were fortunate to have my Nana here in Canada with us. However, I had been able to serve him more. May my Nana rest in peace, Ameen.