Friday, May 06, 2005

Speak, Memory

We drove up to Abu Dhabi this evening to see S aunty. Her father passed away a few days ago from complications following surgery and both she and her husband had been too busy after they got back from the funeral for us to find them at home together. They're both doctors. She's a gynecologist, he's a surgeon. Their schedules almost never overlap, what with one of them being perpetually on call while the other is left to tend to the home and the children. When their daughter was younger, S aunty used to do it all herself, doggedly working at the hospital on her 12 hour shifts and then coming home to cook and clean, sometimes even studying. Now that Shafaq has grown up she takes care of the house, leaving her mother with a little more time to rest. It's phenomenal when you see her, this sweet fourteen year old child managing a whole house by herself. I suppose she gets it from her mother. S aunty has always been an unbelievably hard worker, very responsible, very sincere. There is such an incredible strength about her, a quiet wisdom that expresses itself through her simplicity and her complete and utter lack of pretense.

She looked very vulnerable this evening. It was almost as if she'd shed her responsibilities for a while, all the many identities falling away to reveal a young girl remembering her father. He was a doctor, a simple and honest man who I had the pleasure of meeting when I was in Karachi. He was the sort of doctor they used to have in the movies many years ago. A homely general practitioner who dispensed as much kindness and common sense as he did medicine. She spoke about her childhood and how their home was always over-run with guests. They come from a very close family; she and her husband are cousins. They grew up in the same house. Her father-in-law and her father were brothers. She remembered her husband bathing their grandfather because his heart wasn't strong enough for him to do it on his own. T uncle and his brother would take turns reading him the newspaper. Later on, S aunty took over the responsibility. Everything was shared. Nothing was a burden.

She spoke about the things she'd learnt from her elders, mehmanon ki khidmat being one of them. I was surprised by her use of the word khidmat, which means a service but in a humble and compassionate sort of way. And even as I was thinking how quaint that sounded, an anachronism in these breathless days, my mother asked me to get her a glass of water. Instantly, both T uncle and S aunty got up and she hurried to the kitchen to get her guest a glass of water. It didn't take a moment but the reflex revealed so much. It was an instinct with them, taking care of others.


Blogger baj said...

masha'Allah, she sounds like a wonderful person. i wonder what her parents' secret in raising her was.

7:55 AM  
Anonymous Bushra said...

yeah she does. anyway the post is really well written.

9:35 AM  
Blogger Crazed Teacher said...

some kids are born with responsibility on their shoulders......

9:31 PM  
Blogger karrvakarela said...


Baji: masha-Allah, she's awesome.

Bushra: jazak Allah, sister.

Ushi: that's true, but not all kids respond to it in the same way. For some it's a continuous struggle that ends up embittering them as adults. For others it can be a means of grace and they grow from strength to strength.

2:35 AM  
Blogger BaptizedLucifer said...

baji gave me the link. :-) i agree with u whole-heartedly in ur response to motullus. it really can be an embittering experience for some kidz... some even start to believe theyre parents never gave a damn about them... that they are selfish and all they think about is their work and money... and here u have.. a doctors profession... where would we be if people werent dedicating their lives to us that way...

as they say its not the amount of time you spend with your family... its the quality of it. you can be at home with ur kidz the whole day and not really exchange a word with them apart from orders.

blablablablaa :)

1:35 PM  

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