ayeeyo is seventy and a-handful-of-rain-seasons.

Here’s a post from my old blog from 2015. I’m publishing it in memory of ayeeyo Ayeeyo Fadumo, may Allah have mercy on her soul. Amiin.

Ayeeyo (Grandma) is seventy and a-handful-of-rain-seasons.
She hates her senility cordially, with a little bit of self-compassion.
She knows hundreds of peculiar ways to describe her pain and she could spend days watching the news, telling everyone who happens to be looking at the screen at the same time as her that the world is falling apart and that things were different back in the sixties in Baidabo.
She’s a funny human being, really, and even though sometimes her body fails her, her soul cherishes a good number of beautiful memories that keep her content and thankful nevertheless. So if she can’t stand up once she’s seated, she says alhamdulillah. If she can’t walk till she reaches her destination and her legs tell her from the very first step that there’s no way she can make it, she says alhamdulillah. When she finds out a brand new thing that her body refuses to do, something she probably did her whole life, something as simple as holding a glass, as yelling from one room to another, as moving a chair out of her way, she sighs “hashaaa!” and she calls my name.
I sit on my bed next to her and listen carefully to whatever she says, ‘cause I know that our time is limited and I want to impress in my mind her words of wisdom.
Sometimes she tells me stories from “the old days”, about Baas Abuur and the thieves who entered from the kitchen’s window and the slippers’ robber. Then, when I insist to know about her life, with pride and a bit of longing, she tells me about how she used to be strong and resilient when she was young.
Her twin and her, being the first-borns of their parents, shared all the duties at home. Ayeeyo was like a boy in her family, grazing the flock and making a living with their father, and her twin was the one who helped their mother with cooking and taking care of the kids.
As she speaks, I see it in her eyes that she never expected to become so helpless, to reach this age without enjoying the company of her beloved twin and her husband. And the worst part of it is that she still remembers when walking, running and jumping where nothing but a basic function of her organism, something she didn’t think twice about, something that happened just like that, just because she wanted to.
Now, between what she wants to do and what she can do there’s a huge river of handicaps that she has no ability to cross. She just watches the gap widening with helpless nostalgia, suddenly realizing that the “time of her life” already came to an end and she didn’t even notice.
And when the night comes, the air feels cold on her skin even though it’s midsummer. So she sighs once again. She asks me to close the door, to close the window, to turn off the light and take everything away from her path in case she wakes up in the middle of the night to go to the bathroom.
She says: “I know it’s hot, I know you’d like to keep the windows open at night and be awaken by the sunrise, but I feel cold dear. I feel terribly cold”.
And when she tells me to cope with her presence as if she was some kind of burden, when she says that “it won’t take long”, my heart sinks and I think again about how time waits for nobody.
“I’ll make duaa for you, baariyeey.” she adds “Just endure it a little longer”.
But I don’t want to endure it just “a little longer”.
I wish I could stay with her forever.
And it occurs me how I’ll never be able to pay her back for everything, for being the one who took care of me and my siblings when my parents where busy working, the one who used to get mad at my teachers and schoolmates when I complained about them, the one who got stressed with me during my exam sessions even though she never had the chance to study when she was young.
And yet today she doesn’t even dare to ask for help when her knees are threatening to surrender at any moment.
But you know what?
Alhamdulillah, because today I’m old enough to understand that she needs me. And I’m here for her, doing anything to make her feel as if time is just a background soundtrack, and all the fun we have is the real movie.


a month of sorrow, a life lesson

Ever since ayeeyo has been hospitalized I feel as if we’ve been handling something bigger than us. It seems that in the past 2 days everything was flipped upside down and we don’t know what to expect. The doctors say that her condition worsened suddenly and that she is terminal. Terminal – isn’t it a cold word for describing a very emotional experience such as the transition towards death?
I don’t know what else to offer to her except for my time and prayers.
I pray sincerely for Allah to bestow his mercy upon us, for Him to grant ayeeyo a miraculous healing, for her to be forgiven and her sins to be forgotten, for her transition to be as sweet and painless as possible, and again for her mind and body to rest in peace, in this world and the hereafter.

Good things are those that bring you back to God and the good muslim is the one that returns to Allah whenever she/he is facing difficulty.
I thought I always knew the meaning of these words, but I’m only now understanding them fully.
I’ve never faced a bigger hardship than this. Witnessing the slow decadence of my grandmother is getting at me – and I know I won’t be the same after this. I miss talking with her and I feel like I’m loosing her slowly in front of my eyes. I hate how she’s becoming weaker and how her periods of unconsciousness are getting longer – I wonder what will I do if she doesn’t get better. I can’t help but hope that she stays with us just a bit longer but at times I find myself hoping that she ceases to suffer as well. They say that people go back to their previous schedules no matter what tragedy takes place. “The show must go on” or whatever. This scares me enormously because my entire schedule at home was filled with her, and without her what will be there to go back to?

Ayeeyo was discharged from the hospital and brought home to spend the rest of her days with us. The bitterness of this is endless. The doctors said that she can pass away anytime now and every time her breath catches my heart sinks.
I already know I’m getting a trauma from this, but alhamdulillah I’m finding a strength in myself that I didn’t know about – my mum, my uncle, my entire family is an incredible example when it comes to this.
We all stay home as much as we can, we hold her hand for hours even if she doesn’t hold ours back, we wake up from our sleep whenever we hear hastened footsteps, we run upstairs every time our phones rings, every time our names are called, always ready to read surah Ya-Seen whenever required, making sure that she doesn’t feel any pain when leaving and that the promise of paradise carried by this surah reaches her.
And yet she lays there, either sleeping or unconscious or just too tired to react.
I think that’s when this big family of mine feels the loneliest.

In this family we all cry when no one is looking and we reassure each other silently. We argue and make peace impetuously, and the love that we share is a fire that never dies.
Ayeeyo is the biggest link of the chain that holds us together. She’s the parent of us all.
Last week, nearly all the people who ayeeyo loves gathered in this house to accompany her in her last journey, and it’s sad to know that it took the news of her imminent death to bring them together but as they say, better late than never. Luckily in the past days she woke up a couple of times to witness this and I bet she’s happy now even if she doesn’t have the strength to voice it.
We’re all taking turns to take care of her, and while no one says it, we’re all afraid that the worst happens while we are asleep or away. She had a respiratory failure twice yesterday, not to mention all the ones before, and the doctor from F.A.R.O. told us to be prepared as it won’t take long. I am so worried, so sad, so tired that I only pray for the best to happen because I no longer trust my judgment. I pray Allah to let me be at her side when she needs me most and I put my complete trust in His plan.

Ayeeyo passed away two days ago.
The hastened footsteps in the corridor eventually brought the dreaded news. Despite all the preparations it still shocked me and for a moment I thought I’d never recover from this. Just like I feared, ayeeyo passed away few minutes after I left to do something completely irrelevant – when I wasn’t looking, when I wasn’t praying, when I wasn’t worried. I would’ve never forgiven myself for not being there when I was most needed if not for the notion that we all belong to Allah and that to Him we shall return.
Her death, after all, had been a processes that happened slowly – slowly, while I braided her hair, slowly, while I told her about my day, slowly, while we gossiped together about all the weird things that the other patients in the room did, slowly, when she stopped responding, slowly, when she had a hard time breathing, slowly, when she finally lost every contact with our world.
I didn’t cry at first – not until a small inconsiderate word from someone insensible cracked my walls for a moment, and even then I quickly held myself together – because ayeeyo never cried except in her sleep, and neither will I.
I think that Allah knows us best, and that this is the best ending for her and for us.
For her because InshAllah He made her endure all this to let her enter Jannah without further trials, and for us because I’m looking back at one month ago and I know for sure that had she suddenly left then, we would’ve all suffered unbearably – especially my parents who were away for their holiday.
During this month we all had a chance to reconcile with the idea of her absence and we got used to not communicating with her before actually losing her physically. All of this got us closer to Allah. This month was a blessing from Him and for it I’m grateful beyond measure. I can’t say I wouldn’t have it any other way because that would be a lie – I wanted my grandmother to witness my second graduation, I wanted her to see me growing up and showing her her grand-grand-children, hearing her approving my life choices and such. But this is just the wish of a human being who doesn’t know any better and surely the Best of Planners knows best.
So alhamdulillah, this is the end of this emotional race.
I pray Allah to make ayeeyo’s time in the tomb pleasant and to welcome her in Jannah.
And may we meet again there.

less room for confusion.

♫ Listening to: “Redemption song” by Bob Marley
☺ Mood: thoughtful
Reading:  “The Great Gatsby”, by Scott Fizgerald

There are various sources of confusion in life, but the main one comes from our relationship with others. The indecision, the mixed-signals, the pride, the incapability of avoiding drama, the fear of change and rejection, the undying hope that others will magically figure out what goes through our mind and deal with it without any further explanation needed.
The thing is, I love explanations.
I love when situations are voiced and problems are solved in a mature way.
I enjoying growing up and I apprecciate the time I spend with others much better when they also opt for the less complicated way of living – one that gives less room to confusion and more to clarity.
Drama is not bad, indecision is not a sin and hoping people will understand you better than your own self isn’t completely beyond comprehension, but wouldn’t it be much better to just engage in an honest confrontation?
I think so, and thus I pray for clarity in my sujud, because confusion makes me feel helpless and misunderstood and I’m sure my days will have a better quality if I stop spending half my time trying to figure out what people “mean”.
I don’t want to interpret what they mean.
I want to be told with clear words.
Otherwise, I refuse to understand.

about sabr.

♫ Listening to: “Rainymood”, my study-sessions’ soundtrack.
☺ Mood: still working hard for better days, a bit antsy now though.
Reading: my notes, over and over again. That’s reviewing for you.

☡ Desclaimer
Sabr is an arabic word whose root means to bind, tie or restrain. It is an islamic virtue that is often translated into “patience”, “endurance”, “perseverance” and “persistence”.

Sabr is the truest when it’s your first reaction to trouble and tribulation. The more it is delayed, the less calming is the effect it has on your soul. It shouldn’t come after you’re done getting mad and complaining, it should come instead of that, and make you think “hey, it’s not a big deal, things are better this way, alhamdulillah (thank God)”. And when you let go of the things that hold you back, that’s when you’re able to move on and accept the better things that Allah has ready for you. An attachment that doesn’t let you walk away is always, always unhealthy, even when it really doesn’t bring any apparent harm. Knowing you could have to sabr for anything on this world and that nothing is essential to your existence except for Allah is what makes your connection with people and objects really healthy and durable.

But then, sometimes your sabr depens on someone else’s. Sometimes you’d like to make sabr and let your heart un-swell, but to forgive your own mistakes, you first need to be forgiven. What then?