Somehow the chill of winter had crept up on us, turning the air crisp and cold, particularly at night and bringing with it the flu season. Ayesha may have the demeanour of The Hulk but in the Autumn and Winter months, she fights a losing battle with inflamed sinuses. Mom has tried every remedy including the rather bizarre ones that older womenfolk liked to share. Sometimes, it felt as if we were witches, sharing recipes for secret potions! Now Mom worried that her allergies would make her prone to the coronavirus which was still lurking in our collective midst. Who would have thought that we would see a pandemic today?
Papa was sitting in the living area, looking tense and worried. I have always been a “Daddy’s Girl” and knew him well. I walked over and sat next to him. Now, this made him rather uncomfortable, and he made strange moves to put some distance between us. Growing up Papa use to always embrace us with a hug but as we grew older, he stopped hugging us, but his warm smile and loving glances always conveyed his love.
I decided to distract him by asking him about his childhood and teen years which he loved to reminisce and talk about. In the midst, of one of his tales, he looks at me with deep love and in a soft and gentle voice says, “Sofia you need to get married; you are of age you know. Uncle Essop down the road has a very nice grandson I have enquired about him for you.”
I jumped up, surprising my father, “Wait, what! Papa are you serious?” My displeasure was written all over my face and my father looked crestfallen. “Papa, I’ve just made a life-changing decision twice recently and here we are, dealing with this pandemic and you are making social calls and panchaat with the neighbours?”
Seeing the look of disappointment on his face turned my voice gentle, “Papa I love you and when the time is right it will happen. Please, let us just wait for that time.”
He shook his head, agreeing to my request but I knew him better. He would try this again! I sit back next to him, not too close this time, and he makes up for the awkward silence saying, “You know Behta, we grew up dirt poor, but Daadi never turned anyone who asked for food, away. Even if it was our last piece of bread, she gave it with a smile and to be honest we never went to bed hungry. My dad would always say trust in Allah and you will see you are not alone.”
He seemed far away, looking into the past, gentle smile on his face as he spoke, “Our homes were small, but hearts were big. We were close. Oh, we had our sibling squabbles here and there, but it never led to family members not talking to each other.”
“It was a great pleasure for me when we chose to purchase this large plot of land and the entire family agreed to build their homes together here. I was delighted to have that sense of belonging again.”
The one-sided conversation continued with me listening to my Dad sharing his feelings and thoughts. “My parents never had much, but they ensured we prayed salah, at home or at the masjid. Us siblings, we were close. Oh, how I miss my brothers as the years have taken each one of them. My parents instilled the importance of family and muhabbah in us all.”
My father’s words resounded with wisdom although the memories were bitter-sweet. I cherished these conversations with him as they always made me realise how much my parents cared about us and wanted to instil those wonderful morals and principles that their parents had brought them up with.
“Chalo, time for me to catch forty winks!” So, if anyone looks for me, I am attending a Zoom meeting with Mr Nap-ier and Ms Snoozy, and I am not to be disturbed! We smiled at each other and parted ways.
“When a boy is born, then he brings one Noor (light) and when a girl is born, then she brings two Noors.”