BY AAQIB NASEEM
Life is unpredictable. Death is inevitable. Life dances on the tunes of death. Death dreads. It caps all uncertainties of life. On May 09, 2021, my sister rushed to my room, huffing. “Baya, grandma is bleeding.” I froze as the words escaped her lips. It felt like a dagger to the chest. A gush of emotions flowed as I saw my Mouj motionless. Her cold body and closed eyes suggested that her soul flew to heavens to meet the creator.
It was time for pre-dawn (Tahajjud) prayers. This time around, she used to get up daily to talk to Almighty in private but on that fateful night, she chose eternal sleep. I saw seven pair of eyes in the room and all wet; sobbing, and shrieking. I couldn’t properly bid adieu to my grandma. I enjoyed an unparalleled chemistry with her. The memories are embedded.
She was savior of my salad days. Every-time I would make mistakes, my parents would rebuke me. It is but natural. But Mouji was my default defender. She was my lovely lawyer who saved me from the wrath. Now, when I recall that unconditional love, I feel I lost a gem of a person. I would pull her cheeks just to annoy her and she would chide me with smile.
As I recall the anecdote, it makes me laugh and cry at the same time: “Go, and get some biscuits for me.” She was fond of sweets. In absence of my mother, I would quietly enter the dining area, unhinge the drawers and steal sweets for my Mouj. That was absolutely awesome time.
Some 13 years ago, when we migrated from another hamlet to this locality of Handwara, she found it extremely difficult to gel well with the new settings. For her, it was odd and awkward since she was brought-up in a jovial neighborhood where people would frequent each other’s place. She was not accustomed to the concrete walls and ‘othering’ of neighbors. This place was like a ghost town for her. She had spent most of her childhood in free courtyards of her pastoral village. Fencing frightened her.
She was my first school. Mouj taught me the basics of cooking, praying, washing etc. She was a foodie. Fish was her favorite dish. For past five fortnights, she was suffering from senile dementia. The life of the one we love is never lost. The time we spent with her was priceless. She was the crown of my family. For last 3 years, I stayed in a rented accommodation due to my higher studies, in Srinagar. I used to get French fries for her. She would plant a love-filled kiss on my forehead after receiving my presents.
Dr. Muhammad Iqbal on his mother's departure said, wailing, “Throughout my life, your love was my servant, and when I was able to serve you, you departed this world.” Likewise, it was my time to serve you Mouji but your departure has left us shell-shocked. When we lowered her in the grave, I stayed there for a pretty long time, I could hear Mouj rebuking me posthumously, “Don’t grieve for me; for now I am free, I am following the path God laid for me.” Rest in Peace. Her demise has created a huge void in my life. Mouji, you live in the marrow of my bones. Whenever life just decides to throw me a couple of curveballs and negativity envelops me, I remember your kind words. Mouji, you never once doubted my abilities. You believed in me.
Death stares at everyone. It spares none. There is no way to foretell when grief will take your breath away, send you scurrying to the places where no one can see the big fat tears trickling down your cheeks. My life has not been same since Mouji left us. We are shattered. We miss her radiant eyes that evinced a million tales or the curated words that conveyed so much beyond what was spoken. Sun shines, clouds cover sky, moon moves, everything is routine but my world has turned turtle.
Fozia aka Fazi was a compassionate woman with high-spirits. She was 84 and lived a full life. Listening, caring, inspiring, sharing, encouraging and always loving-she was there for me- in both elation and distress. She always taught me to love, to be humble, and to help people in whatever way possible. She was once in a millennium soul. When we submitted her to soil, I recalled John Didion, “Certain losses don’t get past you but you incorporate them into who you are. It is always a part of you.”
Aaqib Naseem is Pursuing Masters at Media Education and Research Center, University of Kashmir.
Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are the personal opinions of the author. The facts, analysis, assumptions and perspective appearing in the article do not reflect the views of GK.