A Lifetime of Valentines

I wonder if I’ve ever talked about my parents on this blog? Perhaps I don’t because I’m a little bit superstitious about jinxing them but when Valentines Day comes about and I’m feeling my standard cynicism regarding all things mush, looking at my parents (Touchwood!) gives me a that warm feeling inside.

We’re talking about Peshawar Pakistan, 41 years ago when my parents met for the first time. Two individuals from highly respected and very conservative Syed families meeting because fate decreed it so. My papa, a skinny, lanky, bespectacled average height young man of 16 was struck down by Cupid’s arrow and my 15 year old petite, slender mama when his family came with a proposal of their eldest son (& my papa’s eldest brother) for one of my mama’s sisters. This marriage took place and for the next ten years, which saw two more of my papa’s brothers getting married to my mama’s sisters, my parents had a most interesting life for sure. Sometimes when mama is in a mood to talk, she tells me how papa used to tell her that he’s going to marry her one day and my mama used to brush him off. My mama had some attitude, I tell you… Actually she still does.

It’s been 31 years this February since my parents got married. They’ve gone through all the ups and downs that make up life. Emotional upheavals, property and money matters, issues with their kids, other family members and now as they grow older, my mama’s rapidly deteriorating health. My papa went for Hajj this past year and decided to go alone for two reasons: One, that Alhamdulillah my entire family performed Hajj in 2001 and papa wanted to be able to concentrate on the ibadat rather than worrying about the family. Secondly, the last time around, my mama had health issues and papa did not want her to exert herself. However, there was one problem. We are talking about my papa who still stands in the middle of the room in the morning in a towel, calling out to my mama for his clothes and handkerchief and socks and wallet, which I might add are already laid out before my papa even goes to shower. It’s the most wonderful thing to see. My papa doesn’t even go to the mochi on the corner of the street to get his slipper stitched up and here he was talking about at least a three week trip out of the country.

Imagine this! All the relatives who called or came to visit had one question: How is your mama going to get through these weeks? And what is she going to do to you? (My mama has an infamous temper and being close to her means, I bear the brunt of her temper too.) Needless to say, those three weeks were a spectacle. A person who has gone for what is the most important pilgrimage in a Muslim’s life, calling at least 3 times a day and asking his wife just one question, “Aap kaisi hain?” (“How are you?”)

Looking at my parents makes me believe in all those happy endings. There are so many small things about them. Eating from the same plate; my papa cleaning my mama’s glasses, calling her just like that during the day from work about nothing special, reaching out a hand while driving to touch mama’s, switching the TV channels automatically when it’s time for a specific cookery program or Indian soap that he knows my mama watches… Just like my mama cuts up the meat in papa’s plate because he tends to be a bit messy, calling him during the day just to say nothing, heating up milk for papa herself every night… They even sleep like two halves of a whole…. (Masha’Allah)

My brother and I always felt very left out of our parents’ equation. Not to say we ever felt unloved or neglected. We were lucky enough and blessed enough to have both parents who paid us attention and spoiled us equally. But let’s just say, that to look at them even sitting on lounge chairs while we were on holiday, we could feel the sense of completeness they have in each other. It’s a miracle to behold.

Mama’s unwell. The pains she had been dismissing for the past month as a recurrence of an old gall bladder infection could be angina related and her blood pressure is out of control. She has an Mibi scan scheduled for next week now. A fist reached in and grabbed my heart when I saw my papa’s hands shaking as he offered prayers today. Not the best of times to realize the fragility of human life and mortality. My parents are a gift beyond price. An invaluable blessing. A blessing that all children assume will stay with them all their lives and yet an instant can shake you to the realization that even this blessing is not permanent.

A Valentines day post is what this was supposed to be, an ode to my parents wonderful marriage that allows you to believe that there is something called love in this world, and when found, it is the most wondrous thing there is. Someone once told me, that a prayer is always the best way to offer your wishes to anyone. So here’s a small prayer for my parents:

(Please Allah! You who are Master of all and All Knowing, Most Merciful. Grant my parents health and a happy life. Let their life be filled with peace and tranquillity of their own home, and the satisfaction of knowing they gave their children the best of all worlds. Allow them the happiness of their children and the serenity of their togetherness for a long time to come. Ameen)


5 Responses to “A Lifetime of Valentines”

  1. Saturday, February 16, 2008 at 19:23

    What a wonderful tribute to love. How your father must feel as he confronts your mother’s health issues. May all be well for them both.

  2. Saturday, February 16, 2008 at 19:55

    @ Anna: Thank you so much for the wishes Anna… I pray the same as well. 🙂

  3. Tuesday, February 19, 2008 at 0:14

    Such a sweet post..
    Made me emotional 😦

    InshAllah mom will be jus fine…


  4. Tuesday, February 19, 2008 at 18:22

    @ Zaina: *Hugggssssss* Thank you sis… Insha’Allah!

  5. 5 SK
    Thursday, February 21, 2008 at 21:28

    This is soo beautiful, Mashallah. 🙂 Yaar! Sis! Your parents are so like mine. Mashallah those are all the things that glare out in my parents’ marriage too! Hugggsss! Inshallah, your mom will be well soon. Inshallah. Will pray for everyone.
    This is sooo cute…this could be a ditto for Ammi Abbu. 🙂
    Hugggsss again!!

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