Thursday, October 8, 2015

Nanima's 80th birthday celebrations

My welcome speech for the event

Assalamualaykum .. ahlan wa sahlan

On behalf of the Mehtar and Patel families I would like to take this opportunity in welcoming one and all to grace the commemoration of our nani ma, Zuleikha Paruk Patel’s 80th birthday celebrations. Indeed, as the eldest and only grand-daughter it gives me an immense pleasure in playing the role of the master of ceremonies for this afternoons family event.

As is customary and in line with tradition, we will commence today’s short program with the recitation of the holy Quraan that will be rendered by Hafez Haroon Ismail. This will then be followed by a poem by my niece Juwairiyya Mehtar in honour of her great grandmother. We then have a  small eulogy about my Nani ma’s life, where it all began... and of course no program is complete without a dua. 

We are gathered here to celebrate 80 birthdays and 60 years of mothering, 34 years of grandmothering, and 7 years of great-grandmothering. 
Each of us has entered my grandmother’s book of life in a different chapter—some long ago, some more recently—but we are, nevertheless, all part of a story that began in a small town called Newcastle. Nanima was born on the 25th of September 1935. She is the eldest daughter of Ismail Paruk and Aisha Variawa. The story goes that when Naimas mother was 10 years old she came from India on a ship to South Africa as her father was residing in Lichtenburg. Naima’s fathers family was distantly related to the Variawa family and so he was also on the ship on his way to South Africa at the tender age of 15 years old. Nanima’s grandfather at first made his way to Reunion when he left India. After residing in Reunion for a while he realised that an island life was not for him so he continued to South Africa settling in Durban. Once again he did not adjust to a Durban lifestyle and he eventually landed up in Newcastle. Whilst chatting to Nanima on the phone a few days ago, I asked her how did she meet her knight in shining armour, my late Nana Ismail Bhai Patel.. known to some as uncle IC or to others as dash mota.. Whilst laughing on the phone she mentioned to me that my nana was looking to settle down and hence, the late marhoom Jeeva mota brought my nana to Newcastle for a samoosa express. Whilst viewing a few potential suitors, he eventually settled for nanima after she won the award for making the tastiest samoosas.....lolol..... well actually nana wished to marry nanimas younger sister but nanimas father said that according to the rivaaj the eldest daughter must get married first. So after both family’s reached a concensus in a typical Indian movie type situation, nanima agreed to marry nana. The rest of course is history.

Growing up I have fond memories that I shared with Nanina.,playing at the flat in Wynberg whilst enjoying a hot sugar roti...Ma staying up late with me to watch Saregama during my university years.Or ma trying to make baked potatoes when she received unexpected visitors one afternoon for lunch. In the rush she pressed the wrong button on the microwave with the end result being an empty potatoe shell. It was as though the whole potato evaporated... When I opened the microwave to take out the potatoes I burst out laughing although ma was irritated and not amused at all as she had a few hungry stomachs to feed. We then landed up frying chips.

"Of course these are few incidents that I recall and more memories will be made insha Allah, the end is not yet written, so we will refrain from speculation, but suffice it to say that we will be eagerly awaiting the sequel at her 90th birthday celebration insha Allah. But as we reflect today upon the time we have been given with our grandmother, mother , confidant and friend, however long or short, we are reminded that our connections with one another constitute our greatest blessing and though we choose to celebrate the length of our lives, it is their essence that is more worthy of recognition. And so it is true here.To that end, let us celebrate to times shared, advice given and sought, wisdom imparted, stories remembered and, of course, the joy of being in the company of a living legend. Happy Birthday Nanima, and may there be many more chapters to come."

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Hajj 2015 - Day 2

The second day of hajj is known as Yown ul Arafat or the day of Arafat.On this day, the pilgrims leave Mina after dawn and make their way to the plains of Arafat for the culminating experience of the Hajj. Devotees would spend the entire day on the Plains of Arafat asking God Almighty for forgiveness and engaging in worship through the recitation of the Quraan and also through supplications. Muslims around the world would be in solitude with the Hujjaaj on this day by fasting for the entire day. After sunset, on the day of Arafat, pilgrims would make their way to Muzdalifa, situated halfway between the plains of Arafat and Mina. Here they would spend the entire night in the open under the star light engaging in prayer and worship and also collecting pebbles that would be used the following day. Pictures courtesy Abu Ammaar.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Hajj 2015 - Day 1

On the first day of the pilgrimage the millions of devotees that have traveled from far and wide would now make their way from Makkah to Mina, a small village located east of the city. Mina is an enormous tent city.The Saudi government spent billions of riyals in erecting fire proof tents after the hajj was marred by a fire a few years ago causing damage and loss of life. My dads sister was present that year during the hajj and she related to us that when the fire broke out people started running  in all directions. During that time she had lost her husband in the crowd. With every passing year, the Saudi government tries its best to provide better, more efficient facilities for the Hujjaaj in order to make the Haj process easier and to facilitate a smooth incident free Hajj process as depicted in the pictures above.
The Hujjaj would spend the entire day and night at Mina engaging in the recitation of the Quraan, praying and basically taking rest before heading off to Arafat tomorrow.

Pictures: courtesy Abu Ammaar

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Scars of happiness


Usually when I shower I take note of some of the scars that I have on my body and whilst many women out there have scars that remind them of abuse, I am fortunate to be blessed with scars of happiness. The other day I noticed the scar on my left leg and it brought back fond of memories of a family holiday in the Mpumalanga region. Dad loved taking us for holiday to that part of the world. One morning whilst residing at an exquisite resort, my brother and I went out to play on the swings totally oblivious to the fact that there were a pack of monkeys behind us. Suddenly, as I got off the swing, one monkey ran towards me and grabbed me by my legs. It then bit me and ran away. The wound was quite deep and so in tears I made my way back to our chalet....As I type this post I take notice of the burn scar I have on my left hand and it brings back the most amazing memories of my Saudi friend Abdulla and his family. Abdulla invited me for fatoor during ramadhaan at his home. He and his family never wanted me to feel alone during the auspicious month of Ramadhaan.They wanted to fill the void of my own family not being with me. On the same day as the invite it was my turn to prepare fatoor for my colleagues at work and because i worked the night shift I was exhausted during the day. Nonetheless I got home from work, slept for a few hours and then woke up to prepare fatoor. As I was rushing, my left hand touched the hot oven element and I burnt..The scar still remains..

Looking at the scar on my face, how can I forget the bright and bubbly, happy go lucky Sheida Bhen. She is an Indian born Saudi national having married a Saudi man. She was my personal beautician who would arrive home to do facials at the oddest hour of the night. Whilst I loved the end result of her facials, there were times that she was over enthusiastic to remove a blackhead or an ingrown hair and it felt as though she was carrying out a mini operation on my skin. One day whilst battling to remove an ingrown hair, she literally dug the hair out with a needle. Of course she was thrilled it finally came out but I was left with a scar...I think it was her way of planting a stamp on my face so that I will never forget her.......