We knew Javed’s Ammi was unwell and were all praying for her.
Our group of friends is in the early 50’s now. We met in 7th Grade back in Kendriya Vidhyalaya, Happy Valley, Shillong and were together through High School.
The formative years, growing up together through angst and laughter and dreams and hopes and shared confidences…those were indeed the best years of our lives. Our school was in Army barracks and my father, a senior Army officer was on the Board so reports of our mischief often went to him.
Javed is my ‘Raakhee brother’. We were very close, not just buddies but I tied Raakhee to him and he vowed to be by my side. We’ve always shared that bond and been together through thick and thin. High School was about fun and laughter and academics and groaning over academics…Shillong was so picturesque, it was dubbed, ‘Scotland of the East’ and we did explore the mountains and flowerbeds and had picnics and played sports together. We hung out in groups, acted in plays, celebrated festivals and watched out for each other. One time I went for a picnic instead of going to school and Mom made me write a note to our teacher and walk back to class all embarrassed at being in trouble.
For Eid, I would go to Javed’s home; Uncle was sweet and reserved and Aunty was warm, nurturing and dignified; she fed us the most yummy Biryani. How can I forget that Biryani, a rice preparation with vegetables, aromatic spices, nuts and mutton or chicken (I’ve become a vegetarian now) and we would gobble it down with our hands and lick our fingers and sit back like satisfied gluttons. Today I feel like calling her Ammi Jaan. Ammi loved me, nay, honored me like her own.
Those are my childhood memories of Aunty and later, when Javed was getting married, I went down from Mumbai to Pune for his wedding and met everyone amidst the ethereal decorations, dressed in their finery. Zeenat, Javed’s bride looked like a dream. Javed’s sisters were there and Aunty was as loving and beautiful as always. I did not know that would be the last time I would see her. I was working then and later, with my husband and one year old daughter, moved to the US.
Our entire school got connected and we re-established ties and bonds; all thanks to our dear friend Bindu. Bindu is a prolific writer; here is one of her lovely articles, World Health Day 2021 — Mood & Food » 90rollsroyces
As old friends we connected on whatsapp and with phone calls, we went through times; good, bad and ugly, together and weathered many challenges. We watched as people followed their life’s dreams and lived in service like Bindu and Krishnan setting up ShikshaDaan or joining the armed forces, as did Ranjeet and Javed; or working at a bank like Ratan. Our sportswoman, Nishi, our artist, Enakshi, our twin Rajesh’s, our singer Manjushri all grew older and wiser. We shared the joys of kids getting married, when Geetu’s daughter Dinky wed. We met each other’s kids, when Adeeti’s son Palash came to study at Berkeley he came over to us and what a fine child he is. We learnt all about each other’s families and their journeys. And watched as people moved to different parts of the world, Sriman to UK, Suresh to the US, Jayant to Australia.
We have shared together, the grief of parents who passed away and they’ve become the light who guide our path...
Javed’s Ammi was unwell and getting the best of care. We could only send our wishes and now, when we heard the news of her passing away, I tried to call Javed and I tried to send messages but I could only pray. I could only send condolences. I’m not there in person but I am there in spirit with you Javed Bhai Jaan, with the family as you grieve the passing of a kind, strong, beautiful, dignified Soul. A Mother who watched over all of you and also watched over us like we were her own.
Any words I write are inadequate.
The past year, with the pandemic has been hard on everyone. I lost many elders and I lost my younger cousin brother who I grew up with. It broke my heart. I wrote this article when my cousin died, Ayurveda and Grief: 5 Self-CareTips To Help Your Heart Feel Lighter | The Art of Living. I hoped it would help people with the grieving process and this act of service was a balm to my soul and hopefully to theirs.
Life is finite and we often forget that when we get caught up in worrying about temporary difficulties or non issues. Focusing on our health, peace, happiness, being kind and valuing the bonds we have are really what it is all about. My Sadguru, Sri Sri Ravi Shankar says that only two questions remain at the end of life, how much love have you shared and how much wisdom have you gained.
To our wise, loving Ammi, we pray for You. Om Shanti Shanti Shantih.
Inna Lillahi Wa Inna Ilayhi Raji’un. Javed, may the Almighty Allah give you all the fortitude to bear this great loss. Take heart and pray to Rahmanir Rahim. May Allah grant Ammi Jannatul-Firdaus; May the Almighty Allah expand Ammi’s grave and grant Her eternal peace.
Much love from your sister who is miles away but by your side and from all your friends who are like family...