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Papa

Papa. Not only my maternal grandfather, but one of the most humble and nicest people I have ever encountered. I was just super lucky and beyond blessed to call him my grandfather.

Most people, in fact, referred to him as Papa. Like he was a father figure to all.

His generosity? Kindness? Affection? Wisdom? Knowledge? Knew no boundaries.

I have never met even one person who had even one negative thing to say about my Papa. That cannot be honestly said about many people, but it is indeed true about Papa. In all my life, I can’t even think of a single time that he upset me or annoyed me. He was always Papa – the loving and caring self he always was. He’s been my role model since day one. He will be my role model for the rest of my life.

I loved every day I got to spend him. I loved, loved, loved just sitting with him all day whenever we were lucky enough for him to come stay over at our house. Not just his stories, but just his mere presence brought joy to me.

I loved how he would want to go everywhere with us whenever he came to visit, right down to simple errands. Like he wanted to spend time with us as much as we wanted to spend time with him. I remember the unsaid plan at the grocery stores: I’d do the groceries while my brother followed Papa throughout the store as he picked up nothing but junk food. Who wouldn’t love that?! Many times, we’d cut out things from our “to-do” lists because we were worried he would get too tired.

His love for his children and especially his grandchildren? Can’t even put into words to describe it. Just the extraordinary amount of examples flow through my head. It’s the little things you remember that mean so much. Thinking back to when we were younger, I can’t help but laugh at how much he spoiled us. That’s part of the job description for what a good grandparent is, right? If our parents said no, he would most certainly veto it. Hey, he was the boss, right? We had to listen to him 🙂 I wish Arham got to experience who Papa was.

His love for sweets [especially Kit-Kat and then later Almond Joy as well]. Tried my best to always have chocolate on hand whenever he came to visit.

His love for Jeopardy and Wheel of Fortune [and then later Price is Right as well]. Don’t ever call him from 7-8 PM: he was busy watching Jeopardy and Wheel of Fortune at that time.

His LOVE for reading the Qu’ran. He did so daily without fail.

Smiles. Laughter. Happiness. Joy. That’s what the memories are full of. I wouldn’t have it any other way.

A life truly lived for others. He was one of a kind, and I am truly blessed beyond words to call him my grandfather.

Papa, I can’t begin to tell you how much I’ll miss you.  My heart aches of emptiness when I think that there won’t be a next time for you hug me and kiss my forehead like you always did. Truly, I lost a part of me. Time heals all wounds, and perhaps will ease the pain, but I hope I never forget the kind of person you were and what I want to emulate. He is everything I want Arham to be.

In recent years, as Papa’s health started to decline, I hated that he didn’t feel good inside and my heart ached for his well being. I kept thinking one thing over and over : I wish I could take it away from him. I didn’t want to dwell on what Alzheimers’ did to him and the effect it had in this post; instead I want to focus on all the great memories.

He, up there, called Papa home this morning after a very difficult three weeks for my family and I.

I’ll miss Papa with all my heart, but if there’s one consolation, it’s this: he is at peace.

Family Pillars

There is just something about the generation of our grandparents that hasn’t shown up in our parents or ours. It’s hard to pinpoint, but there is something remarkable about them. Something that stands out.

That or maybe we were just extraordinarily blessed to have wonderful role models in so many of them within our family.

We have lost three great souls over the last year and each one has had a deep impact on me.

Munni Dadda- it was impossible to not be laughing hysterically every time we saw her because of her sense of humor. Her zest for life and the joy she brought to us all is something I think of often. It was impossible to not start smiling the second you saw her — but unfortunately we didn’t get to see her often since she didn’t live nearby :(. Her stories, her humor, her style, her character are all things I think of frequently.

Both my grandmothers passed away before I was born, but I always thought of Munni Dadda as filling their role in a sense. She had that grandmotherly love that had no limits, was fun to talk to and be around, and I loved her sense of humor the most. No formality, no fuss. Just a down to earth woman who I loved seeing on any trip to Canada.

Kalam Nana – there were only the rare weekends where my parents didn’t go meet him, and I enjoyed going most of those weekends too to spend time with Nana. His knowledge, his stories, his genuine interest in all of us, his personality are all some of the things I miss most about him.

He always wanted to know what was going on in our lives– no matter was too small for him to have interest in us, no one was too young to have his respect. If we mentioned something to him, he remembered and always followed up later and I loved that. He cared.

Just a few days ago, on August 31st, we were discussing how it had been six years since Salam Nana passed away. I don’t remember much about him from when I was younger, and unfortunately I never got the opportunity to get to know Nana well enough because he was sick in the years I was growing up. Abu’s told us stories, of course, but it’s not the same.

On September 2nd, we were talking about it had been his funeral that day six years ago when a little while after that, we found out Rana Nanna passed away.

Rana Nanna – she made tafseer class fun and interesting and a good learning experience for me, which is something I’ll always be thankful for her. Growing up, Abu and Ami have always told us everything she did for the family after both my paternal and maternal grandmothers passed away and how helpful she was in that time. Her love for her [extended] family was obvious to all, and so was how much she loved feeding us all her homemade delicious food.

To this day, we have a sweater she sewed for Ayaz as a baby… growing up even my dolls wore this particular sweater.

Slowly, we are losing the generation that are our pillars. Yes, it’s a part of life, but it doesn’t get any easier. Especially when in about thirteen month’s time, we have lost three from this generation. May Allah SWT grant them the highest place in jannat. Three great souls. And all I want to do is freeze time and hold on to their wisdom for as long as I can.

They were the type of people you want to be. The type of people you wish your own children got to meet and learn from. The type of people that instilled values and love and kindness like no other. The type of people the world needs more of.

It makes me wonder what type of legacy we will leave behind for future generations. What we will be remembered for. Will we even have an impact and be worth remembering?

Falsehood

One of the most irritating things of a person’s character I find to be is this: creating false statements about others. Worse? Passing it on. It could be something frivolous or on a grander scale. Either way, it’s baseless. But it’s something I have never been able to tolerate. I pray to Allah SWT that it’s something that never consumes me.

How boring does one’s life have to be to have the time to create unnecessary lies? What good does it do? What satisfaction do people get from this?

Gossiping is very common, and I am sure everyone is guilty of it at least one point in their lives. But this is so much more that that. If a young group of people do it, I try my best to remind them how wrong it is. When adults do it? I don’t want to step out of line, I suppose, but it has taken a lot out of me lately not to do or say something about it.

These past few weeks, it’s been a continuous pattern in a group of people I know about someone very dear and near to my heart. About a person and their family that is so involved and does so much for the local Muslim community but humble enough to not let a soul know.

And for those partaking in this nonsense that actually attended the event? I sincerely hope the reason wasn’t to judge, and create more lies. Which, unfortunately, I have already witnessed.

It saddens me that people are so heartless. It saddens me because some of these people’s lives are a twisted mess themselves, yet they think it’s the right thing to do to create and spread falsehood about others. It saddens me that so many people are innately… not so nice? It saddens me that these people are so two faced. Mostly, it saddens me that I have to associate with these people, because I try my best to surround myself with people who make me want to be a better person. I just don’t have the time, energy or patience to deal with nonsense drama.

Handmade

A couple of weeks ago, I found Ami trying to find my baby pictures, and it was so nice to go through some of our old pictures from our childhood. It had been a while since I had gone through them. Many of my newborn photos, including the first photo taken of me mere moments after my birth, have me wearing this reddish/orange blanket with a green border.

This blanket? It’s something I have treasured for as long as I can remember. It’s held a permanent residence under my bed in a container of things I’ve saved over the years. It’s priceless and you can’t even tell it’s over 30 years old. My mat9ernal grandmother sewed it personally.

It’s, unfortunately, one of the only [tangible] connections I have with my grandmother considering both of my grandmothers passed away way before I was born. Sadly, my paternal grandmother passed away a mere six days before her first grandchild, my oldest brother, Ayaz was born.

My dad’s aunt also sewed a yellow sweater for my oldest brother. That sweater? My dolls wore it over the course of the years.

Lately, I have very often found myself reminiscing and reflecting and things of that sorts.

If there’s one thing anyone knows about me, it’s that I am a) VERY emotional/sensitive [anything and everything makes me cry: whether I’m happy, sad, upset, angry… it just doesn’t matter] and b) a sentimental person. I don’t tend to save many tangible things, but I do keep the important stuff. The ones of value.  I can probably find any card given to me over the years… they, too, are housed in this aforementioned container.

I’ve said it a million times, I know I am overly emotional, but: I’d rather be very empathetic over apathetic any day.

Legos

You see the Lego box below?

It’s from our (my siblings and mine) childhood. Our parents bought it for us back in 1991 — yes that’s 21 years old — and almost as old as me!! We played countless hours with the set, building everything imaginable. We wore out the blocks, the people, and the board to build on a very long time ago.

Then, for many years, it sat in the back of our closets as we grew too old to play with it.

In the last few years, however, it has made a comeback! As our little cousins grew older, they started playing with it more and more (because  let’s face it — we don’t have many other toys in our house).

Now, our young nephews and niece are quite fond of it as well and play with it every time they come over. It’s so funny because it’s the first thing they ask about as soon as they come to our house (if they don’t just go find it themselves, that is!). They are even more pleased to find that what they built in their last visit is usually still in the box too.

I keep telling my family that we need to buy more toys now that there are so many little kids in the family again (in the next generation especially!), but at the end of the day it seems that they all seem to enjoy playing with the Legos that WE played with many many years ago.

The pieces may be worn out, and parts missing… but it doesn’t seem to hinder their imaginations one bit.

It’s so much fun to see what my little cousins and niece & nephews end up making — from houses, and cars to angry bird — they have probably made it all.

A couple of years ago, my little cousin even said to us that ‘we really need to get new Legos“. Maybe he’s right. We may not need many other toys for them to play with, but a new set of Legos might just be what is needed.

In a time when things are made not to last too long, it is so nice and sentimental to think about how we used to play with the same set growing up when we watch our younger cousins and niece & nephews play with it.

Very few things stay constant from one generation to the next. Most of the things we grew up with are a thing of the past for kids nowadays — they wouldn’t recognize it most likely — just like we probably wouldn’t recognize the TV shows they watch or the toys that are a hit now (or from our parents’ time)… so it’s so nice to see things that still connect one generation to the next.

In this case, a simple box of Legos.

A handful of legos: In this picture you can see that the green base to build things on  is broken :(, but the other  pieces are relatively in good shape. That yellow and red window is still in one piece and functional :).

Where Were You?

Ten years ago today, I was just days into the school year — I was in the eighth grade.

I knew something was wrong right away because over and over again the classroom intercom would go off from the main office calling yet another student down. Slowly, but surely many of my fellow classmates were being picked up by their parents early from school. Not only was it early in the school day, but it was literally a few days into the school year.

School faculty/administration would not explain why, no matter how many students asked. To protect us? I don’t know.

I don’t remember from who, but I remember over hearing someone talking about an “emergency” in “downtown” “Manhattan” involving the “World Trade Center”.

I remember lividly — lumps formed in my throat and tears started forming in my eyes as I quickly went up to my teacher and told my teacher I needed to go down to the main office and call home. I needed to make sure my dad was okay.

He too, like MANY others used the train to get to work in Manhattan every day. His stop was the station in the lower level of the World Trade Center.

I, too, was picked up early from school. On the drive home, I could see the smoke even in Central New Jersey looming in the sky.

In a time before cell phones were so common that even elementary school-ers carry it around (like now), not many people had the luxury of having one. It just wasn’t deemed to be a necessity as it is now. That meant getting in contact with your family and friends that day was a challenge in itself.

My dad, luckily, got in contact with my mom quickly and let her know he was fine. He had just gotten off the train and left the building and he “heard the noise”, but didn’t see as the first tower was hit.

It took him hours to get home that day because the city was literally shut down, but all that mattered was that he was fine.

Blessed? You bet. Grateful? More than I could ever explain.

In the hours and days ahead, glued to the TV and questioning “WHY?”, I would learn how massive that day was… how many innocent lives were unjustly taken away that day.

As a young Muslim girl who had just started wearing the hijab just a few days prior (on the first day of school), I had no idea how the community would react hearing about all the backlash against Muslims and hate crimes in the days ahead. Fortunately, we live in a very diverse community, and I didn’t have any problems.

Even so, being a Muslim has been a double edge-sword at times. It’s just so easy to lump a whole group and pin the “blame” on them. But do we blame all Germans for the Holocaust? No. You know why? Because we know it’s not true. An individual’s action or a group of individual’s actions can’t be attributed to a whole group of people.

It’s taken me ten years to write down my “Where were you when it happened” story, but you know…  it’s not something I’d ever forget.

It’s a day of reflection and counting your blessings. It’s a day to remember all of the innocent lives lost that day. It’s a day that we lost the feeling of comfort and peace. It’s a day that changed how we lived forever.

Oh what I’d do to go back to the mindset of September 10, 2001. Being so young at the time, I honestly don’t remember the care-free life before.

P.S. Don’t forget to leave me a comment below on your thoughts! As always, I’d love to hear from you.

Four Years

Just days before my college graduation, as I was just now looking through old stuff, I came across my high school graduation cap and gown from four years ago for the first time since I graduated.

My tassel was still in tact on the cap. Gotta admit, it was a pretty weird feeling coming across it – so I had to take a picture.

P.S. Don’t forget to leave me a comment below on your thoughts! As always, I’d love to hear from you.

Cap and Gown = Graduation Day is Approaching

So last Thursday I bought my cap and gown, which kind of made it official for me that I graduate in thirty-four short days! How unreal! There are just two and a half weeks of classes left (and I only have EIGHT actual days left of classes!!)

I gotta admit, it didn’t really hit me when I bought my own cap and gown, but as I was helping someone else with their cap and gown stuff yesterday (I work at the bookstore on campus)… it hit me then! Everyone who knows me, knows how emotional of a person I am so it won’t come as a surprise to many that it made me teary!

I just can’t believe how fast the past four years have flown by! It feels like orientation was just some time ago, and yet here is graduation day approaching rapidly.

Not to mention the fact that I HATE changes!

As much as there has been things that have annoyed me like crazy, there are so many things I would not have done or got the opportunity to do otherwise. To name a few off the top of my head:

P.S. Don’t forget to leave me a comment below on your thoughts! As always, I’d love to hear from you.

My Last First Day of College!

Tomorrow is my last first day of college! Classes at Rutgers actually began today, but I have no classes on Tuesdays and Fridays this semester – so tomorrow will officially be my first day of the semester. It will definitely be a long day with work in the morning and then classes from 1 to 7:30 P.M and Mondays are going to be even worse (I have classes ALL day from 10 A.M. to 7:30 P.M), but then I only have one class on Thursday mornings – so it makes up for it. I’ve been working pretty much all day every day for the last few days, so to say that i’m tired is an understatement.

Let’s get the negative out of the way first – one thing I’m definitely not going to miss about Rutgers is the scheduling annoyance i faced EVERY SINGLE semester. This time was no different. Seriously, I can’t remember (um, because it didn’t happen) one semester where I had no problems scheduling classes for the next semester. The frustration and the stress during planning my schedule, registration, the week leading up to class and the first week of classes were something I will not miss. Neither will my family as I’m pretty sure I drove them crazy every time for all of those times I just mentioned all eight semesters long. I’m sure a lot of other Rutgers student will agree with this problem as well.

Okay, enough of the negative.

I’m one of those people that are sentimental/emotional and cherishes the ‘moments’… and this is definitely one of them. It’s amazing to think that in a few short months i’ll ‘graduate’ into the real world. Whoa. Pretty scary, huh?

Sure, i have graduate school ahead of me – but that’s just different.

Time sure flies by, doesn’t it? The last seventeen years of schooling (kindergarten through 12th grade and these past 4 years to get my B.A.) sure have. I was actually just looking at old photos from back when we were little kids this past weekend when my aunt and uncle were over and talking about old memories – I don’t know about you, but I LOVE looking at old pictures and reminiscing.

While I don’t actually remember my first day at school, I definitely remember my first day of school. You know – school bag on my back, wearing the school  uniform, crying like crazy as my mom takes me to school? Ha.

Hopefully this semester goes by smoothly. Not that I’m expecting it to, considering my last seven semesters at Rutgers… but I guess, that’s part of the ‘experience’. More importantly, I hope that I make the most of this last semester at Rutgers. In hindsight, sure there are things I would have done differently – but wouldn’t most people? One thing is for sure, everything can be a learning experience if you choose to look at it like that.

P.S. Don’t forget to leave me a comment below on your thoughts! As always, I’d love to hear from you.

The Baby-Sitter’s Club

The Baby-Sitter’s Club (BSC). You remember those books? If you are a female around my age (21) or even plus/minus a few years, you probably do. I don’t know about you, but i LOVED those books. They were my all time favorite novels to read growing up and I definitely grew up on them.

Even more than that, there are so many memories I have connected to them. For one – my cousin Samia and I would ALWAYS read them with a bowl of soup (whether it was breakfast, lunch, dinner, or an in-between snack)… just for the sake of it. They were almost interconnected. It could be ninety degrees outside, but we would still have some soup and read the books with them. The strange thing was – we did this mostly at breakfast time! Crazy, huh? But you know what – I’d do it all over again and wouldn’t change it one bit.

I remember heading to the library all the time just to see if they had a new BSC book that I hadn’t read yet. If I got lucky, there were a few new ones! I remember coming home so many times with so many books and finishing them all in the same day.

As years passed by, I would buy some and my cousins would buy others… and then we’d switch.

The BSC collection, for sure, inspired my love for reading that continues to this today.

Yes, I realize how unrealistic the story lines were most of the time – but then again, times were different back then. And even if it wasn’t realistic, who cares? Certainly not me. It’s not often a book is so intriguing or fun that you finish it in one sitting, let alone a whole collection of such books.

Ever since my brother shared this CNN blog post with me on Monday about how the author Ann M. Martin is writing a prequel to the the BSC books, I haven’t been able to stop thinking about the classic BSC books and how much I used to love reading them. I gave a lot of my BSC books to my little cousin (ironically whose name is also Samia) many years ago, and when i ‘shared’ the CNN blog post on facebook – I learned she still had them (or at least some of them)… so that’s pretty cool.

If anyone knows where I can find the whole collection, PLEASE let me know – because I really want to try and get them… just for old times’ sake.

P.S. Don’t forget to leave me a comment below on your thoughts! As always, I’d love to hear from you.