Grandmothers are special
The columnist Nazneen Gulamhussein Mukhtar (Arusha, Tanzania) is the headmistress of Yaadgare Murtazawi Madressa, She is a mother to five children and loves writing and reading. She always wanted to inspire children – her favourite audience. Writing has been her passion for as long as she can remember and believes that effective learning takes place through storytelling.
My grandmother was like a central figure in our house. We all respected her and loved her a lot. She was caring and kind. She always had a good word for each and everyone in our house. It was just that recently I found her to be too interfering for words to express!
When I came home she would come and greet me at the door, and start asking me how the day went, and would exclaim at each and every tiny detail. Mother and Father worked till late evening, so I guess she felt responsible for us. That Monday as I came home, I wanted to be left alone. So I ignored her questions and started walking quickly towards my own room. Grandmother must have felt hurt because she asked me in a small voice, “What is it dear? You seem upset!” I looked at her impatiently and said, “It’s not that! I just want to be left alone! Cant I have my own private thoughts? Do I have to tell you each and every little thing?” after that outburst, I felt a bit guilty but Grandmother just smiled very kindly and said, “yes! Dear, it’s a part of growing up. Go and be alone for a while. If you want anything call me. I am making your favourite chocolate cake.”
“I am not hungry!” I said rudely and closed my door with a bang! I guess it was what Mother called hormones; it was a part of growing up. I just felt mad and angry at everyone! There was no actual reason.
My elder brother Sameer came in at that moment. He said, “Look! Salma! That was really rude of you. Grandmother is so kind to all of us. Don’t you realize that you are hurting her?” He said this in his usual low and polite tone, but I was so angry that I lashed out at him, “ Grandmother is always interfering! I can’t take it anymore! Why doesn’t she just leave me alone? I don’t want her pampering me all the time. I am a big girl now. I am just sick and tired of being told what to do”
Sameer looked at me for a long time and said, “Well it does seem as if you are still a very little girl. The way you act is immature. If you felt I was interfering too, then I am really sorry. It’s just that I felt it was my duty to tell you the right thing” With that he walked out of my room.
I was still feeling down and when Grandmother came in later with some chocolate cake, I didn’t even thank her. When she left, I ate the cakes but did not feel the taste in my mouth. Whenever I came home from school, I acted in the same don’t care attitude with my grandmother and she was the same wise and loving Grandmother. One day I crossed the limits, because I told her openly, “Mind your own business! And please don’t pamper me!
I am a big girl and I don’t want anything except to be left alone!” Grandmother was silent for a while, and then she told me, “ Salma! I realize now that I have been really patronizing and interfering. I want you to forgive me, I will try not to disturb you next time”
I felt tortured by the fact that my own Grandmother was apologizing to me. Mother and Father were also very sad to hear this. Mother always said that elders have a certain status in Islam, and they are the ones we should apologize to and not the other way around. The fact was that my Mother was very wise and she never gave me lectures but just said a certain thing that would make me realize I was wrong.
Mother said, “ If Grandmother was wrong then it’s right that she apologized, but if you were wrong then you will regret it later. Salma, we are so lucky to have her with us. You must ask Allah to make you realize what a great blessing we have”
Unfortunately, I did not realize it at that time. I used to come home and just ignore Grandmother and do exactly what I felt like doing, meaning going and locking myself in my room for long periods and dwelling in self-pity.
It was on a Monday that reality dawned on me. I came into the house, but Grandmother did not come to greet me as usual. I guess she must have realized I needed my space. I went to my room in peace and as Mother and Father had gone to work and would not come home till late at night, I was free to do whatever I wanted. I went into my room but suddenly I felt very empty, I could not believe it but I felt the need for her Kind words and caring attitude. I shook myself and said, “You must be out of your mind!”
Anyways truth is bitter and the truth was I missed her today. So I went to her room and thought, let me greet her for once. The house seemed very quiet. Grandmother’s presence always used to make the house alive and warm, I wondered why it seemed dull and empty today. I knocked for a while and there was no answer.
She must be asleep, I thought, although she never slept at such an odd hour. I felt at that moment that, I must apologize for all my rudeness.
“what’s wrong with you Salma?” said Sameer coming towards me. “don’t you know that Grandmother has been taken to the Hospital?” I was so shocked that I could not digest what he was telling me. “but when? What happened to her?” I asked at last.
“Well,” said Sameer. “she has been feeling unwell for some days. I don’t think you even noticed. You are so wound up in your own self. Have you realized the fact that this woman is always asking about you, and how you felt, whilst she herself has no one to ask her how she was feeling?”
I had tears in my eyes. “please Sameer, take me to the hospital! What’s wrong with her? Is she very sick?”
Sameer took me to the Hospital and as I entered I saw her sitting on one of the beds with her usual smile.
“Oh! Darling grandmother!” I said and hugged her. “I was so worried about you! Home is not the same without you!”
Grandmother was happy to see me too and said, “ I was also worried about you my dear! I felt sad that today my Salma would come home with no one to greet her and ask her about her day at school. You must be hungry too! I made some cookies for you and kept them in the cookie box. You must eat them later. Oh! No! I am acting like I always do! I always forget my Salma is such a big girl now”
I started crying then, “No Grandmother, I will always be your little girl and I just love it when you ask about me! When are you coming home?”
“well actually right now, you see my pressure went hey wire. At the moment it’s normal.”
“Oh! Grandmother, I was so selfish I never asked you about your health, I was so rude to you, please can you forgive me ?”
“I guess you can talk at home” said Sameer, he was smiling too.
Grandmother took my hand and we walked home at that moment I realized how lucky we were to have her with us, and I remembered what Mother had told me, and I looked up to the sky and said, “Oh! Allah! You have really blessed us, please continue to do so, and thanks a lot for guiding me and helping me understand this great blessing!”
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