I have always blocked out the pain of losing my mum at the tender age of fourteen. I blamed her for her own death, unreasonably. Growing up, I harboured resentment and anger inside, telling my young self that she didn’t love us enough to stay. That she should have fought harder. That she should have beaten the cancer as she had so much to lose. She should have loved us enough to live.
Her tears, frustrations, her cries still haunt me if I open my heart a little.
As a mother now, as an adult, I’ve closed this painful hole and plastered it with detachment. No emotion. No feelings. Just empty thoughts and suppressed memories. A blur.
Today, I got the news that my nanu (maternal grandmother) passed away. Inna lillahi wa inna ilayhi rajioon. To God we belong, and to Him we return. The last time I saw her was such an eon ago; it was brief and full of guilt for not seeing her sooner or more often. She could barely hear me, with her hearing aid dangling like lost ear-rings around her ears and her raucous voice made my then 8-month-old jump out of his skin.
I remember speaking slowly, loud in my broken Noakhali dialect, Bengali, ‘Nanu, anneh bala asen ni?’ (how are you?) to which she replied ‘Had you enquired after me more often, you would know how I am!’ cementing my guilt even more, although we were both laughing. (I swear that lady had selective hearing! She always heard right when she had an opportunity to scold!)
She proceeded to tell me stories of my mother, giving birth to my second brother under the bed in Chittagong during the 1971 war. She said my mother was strong and resilient in the face of persistent bombing overhead and an anxious toddler to keep calm. I remember thinking, I wonder where she got that from? My nanu herself endured ten births, loss of her husband as well as loss of three children. She was one of the strongest women I knew, in more ways than one!
I didn’t intend to start my very first solo piece with such a painful note. I thought I’d share a part of me that is close to my heart, that is true and happening more especially so, in these what I like to call ‘crazy corona’ times.
Covid-19 has all our lives in Lockdown. We are alhamdulillah all under our own roof, safe and away from the calamities around us. We remember those who have gone and pray for those who remain. Never did think I would lose my nanu when everyone is locked down. No one can fly over to visit her. Not even some of her children. We observed her burial and wake via the miracle of technology. Thousands of miles away.
Such is the fragility of life. She looked so frail and completely unrecognisable. In death, she had become a stranger.
Around us today, we are losing loved ones. Let’s make an intention this Ramadan to pray for those who have gone and those who remain.
Let’s make a dua that Allah grants them Jannah and forgives their sins. Ameen. Let’s pray that Allah heals everyone and we find a cure for everything. Ameen.
Let’s make the most of Ramadan insha Allah and use this Lockdown for reflection, for connection and correction. Let’s improve ourselves and our families through the rope of Allah.
Allah wants us to remember, to recall, to reflect, to reconnect, to recoup, to take a moment. A breather. A pause.
By Nafisa Rahimi
Co-Founder of Muslim Mamas, Founder of Super Smart Learners and an award-winning podcast – Not Another Mum Pod. Nafisa graduated from the University of Birmingham in Applied Theological Studies and completed her PGCE in RE and English from the School of Education in Birmingham. She is a self-confessed workaholic living in London with her four children and husband. Nafisa enjoys writing, eating out, travelling and hanging out with the sitcom ‘Friends’.
Museum of London Project Series
The Covid-19 pandemic 2020 was having a huge impact on many aspects of the daily lives of Londoners. The Museum of London thought it was important to record these experiences in order to share and learn from them in the future. One aspect they wanted to capture is the experience of families observing Ramadan during that time. They were interested in how this experience differed to the experience of families in previous years, and how families were adapting to observe Ramadan.
All four audio diary entries and the interview with Saami reflecting on lockdown Ramadan 2020 are now part of the Museum of London’s permanent collection, forming a part of British history! What an honour this has been!
Saami and I (and our family) cannot express how touched we have been by this whole experience. We hope you enjoy listening to these and do share with your friends and families.
By Nafisa RahimiCo-Founder of Muslim Mamas, Super Smart Learners English (a unique educational programme) and an award-winning 'Best Podcast 2020' - Not Another Mum Pod. The audio Ramadan diaries are now a Permanent Collectionof the Museum of London. Nafisa has recently been named in Techmae's ‘Woman Spotlight’.Nafisa's pods regularly make waves, frequently ranking in Apple Podcast charts worldwide (no.12 in Sweden and 13 in UK ). Nafisa faces difficult topics head-on in an attempt to grab the mic, and address Muslim-related issues with authentic Muslim voices. Nafisa lives in London with her four children and husband. She enjoys writing, eating out, travelling and hanging out with 'Friends'! Read all about it here:https://linktr.ee/Nafisa.Rahimi