Mum’s idea about getting the elders to use WhatsApp has really caused a severe upset for me as I have to now go to assist Daadi’s best friend, Aunty Fatima as she has no-one close by to coach her through the process of using video call on WhatsApp.
I arrive at her little simplex just down the road from our home with the urge to drive right past. But I knew Mum would send back another day, so best to bite the bullet and get it over with.
It took more than 5 minutes before the walker-bound matriarch answered the door. Aunty Fatima was your typical “panchaat khalla”, beady eyes, scarf pushed behind her ears (all the better to hear you”)” and the gift of the gab!
“Sofia the unmarried, how are you my child? Have you found anyone to marry you yet or are you still fussy?” she bellowed at me as she opened the door to let me in. I rolled my eyes wondering if she wanted to announce to the entire neighbourhood that I was not going to be married and thus was fair game. Find a husband in quarantine? I bet this Aunty can fast track a wedding for me.
She plants a wet kiss on my cheek before asking me to follow her to her tiny kitchen where she has left her iPhone charging. Aunty Fatima has 3 sons, all professionals in their chosen fields, but they all live abroad and to make up for the time they do not spend with her, they purchased every type of gadget or appliance that she might need to ensure her comfort and safety. Her home is tastefully decorated by an interior decorator and came with the latest in geriatric health and medical equipment.
She shouts out to her live-in nurse who is watching television in the living room to come over and “learn a thing or two.” Then she whispers to me, “Georgina has the best phone, but silly girl only knows how to chat, she knows nothing about video chat!”, rolling her eyes, as if she was a master at it!
After three, excruciating hours of explaining, to Aunty Fatima and Georgina, who was slow on the uptake, I was frazzled and felt like I wanted to crawl into a dark hole and stay there until Eid. Sadly, all they had both learnt was that you could video chat, the how had completely eluded them.
As I entered the driveway, I saw Ayesha sitting on the pavement looking exhausted. She had been dispatched to teach another friend and from her demeanour, I guessed she had fared no better.
As we entered, I whispered to her, “Let us round up all the kids under ten and get them to teach the older folk to use WhatsApp. They seem to get it when the younger ones show them. I think it is because they understand the lingo.”
Ayesha laughed and said, “No man Sis, kids love showing off how intelligent they are, and they have the sabr to teach the older people. That is why I managed to get the oldies I was sent to, to have their first video call with Nana.”
“What? Like here I was trying to teach one person. Ayesha it would have been easier If I taught Aunty Fatima how to set up an online marriage profile for me on one of those marriage sites!” We both burst into laughter.
Mum was waiting for us as we entered the kitchen. “So, what did you learn today, daughter of mine?”, she asked with her hands on her ample hips and a smile across her face, enjoying the torment she had just inflicted upon us.
“Hmm . . . Uncle Essop has a suitor for Sophia and that Uncle Ahmed is a closet smoker who tried to bribe me into going out to buy him a loose!”, Ayesha said smiling mischievously at me. ‘Oh, and he also said not to tell the “Dragon”, I assumed that was his wife!”
We all laughed at the thought of Uncle Ahmed’s wife who was a wallflower and none of us could imagine her having the qualities of a dragon but then who knew the person behind closed doors!
“Girls, on a serious note, what did you both learn from the interactions you had today?”, Mum asked.
“Well, I was hoping that you would both realise that while you are young, you need to assist the elderly. And although it can be difficult due to many things, they appreciate it and love to be a part of even small little things.”
“And never forget that it was the elderly who taught us the lessons of life, shared their wisdom and even sacrificed so that we could have better lives than they did.”
“Now it is our turn to give back, our obligation is to be kind to them, to check up on them and to ensure that they are taken care of. Older folk just need a little acknowledgement, a conversation, a kind word and a little pampering all goes a long way with them.”
Listening to Mum, I realised that we take the elderly for granted and see them as a nuisance, but they are our past and future, dispensing love, advice, praise and support and lots of wisdom to ensure we learn from their mistakes and not travel the hard road.
I also realised then that I was not very nice to Aunty Fatima, as all she was probably doing was trying to make conversation with me, even giving me the opportunity to speak my heart if I wanted too. Instead, I had judged her unfairly. Lesson learned and I would go back to teach her until I was successful.
It’s the small things that go a long way, so do your bit and watch the way in which blessings will filter into your life, and the comfort that your elderly will feel in the time which they need it most in their lives.
The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) said, “Part of glorifying Allah is honouring the grey-haired Muslim.” (Abu Dawud)