My very first memory, right as far as I can remember, is that of my maternal grandmother, my Naani Ami, cooking me Aalo Ki Tikkiya. And of my incessant whining that the Tikkiya isn't as round as I wanted it to be. (Yeah, I was an irritating kid.)
Nothing's changed. I'm seventeen years old, busy as any teenager, fighting my way towards the college of my dreams. But one thing that hasn't changed, that probably never will, is the eagerness with which I go to visit my Naani every Saturday and have her scrumptious Aaloo ki tikkiyas.
My naani. The one person I love so much, it frightens me to death when I even so much as think of a life without her. If you talk of idols...I'd think of her in a microsecond. She is, I can say with utter conviction, the centre of my haphazard world. After my parents, she is the one I owe the most. I can never thank God enough for blessing me with such a woman as my grandmother.
She is the eldest among her siblings. She took care of them all as only a mother could after her parents passed away. She got married at a young age. She did her Masters in Botany after her marriage to my Naana, who passed away while he was doing his PhD in London, leaving my Naani as a widow with two toddlers and no one to lean on in the city she did not know all that well. She returned to Karachi and eventually became a proffesor of Botany. I'll never quit being awed at her strength. In a society where a widowed woman was badly looked down upon and consistently made the target of tongues that lashed viciously out at her every action, she worked harder than can be put in words to ensure her kids' future. Only when my mother got admission into NED and my uncle got into University Of Chicago did she stop working the whole day around. Nobody can deny that she was a woman of substance; the spirit of hardwork and determination she instilled in her children and us consequently, is something we'll always be in her debt for. She raised her children like a queen. She taught them all the moral values that they could ever need. I see the way my mother lives her life with poise, respect for others, and in total discipline. And no doubt about the fact that it's all because of her. I can look up to her for guidance and I will always find it there. She was, and still is, a flawless being.
My Naani was the one who made us appreciate the beauty of our religion. It is due to her lessons and teachings that despite spending a large chunk of our childhood in UK, we have a very special bond with Allah. I rememer how it used to irk us the way she would make us sit around the table and read the Qura'an for half an hour after Maghrib. Every single day! I appreciate the value of it now, ofcourse.
She was the one who used to watch movies with us. Her favourite movie of all time is The Lion King. She was the one who taught me how to bake. How to sew. How to boil an egg. She used to tell us bed-time stories. She used to tie our hair and get us ready for school when we refused to leave her place even though it happened to be a school night. She used to make me homemade icecream. She once even tried to interpret my dreams once, haha.
She is my best friend. She's coming from Chicago this thursday, and I'm besides myself with sheer excitement. I can't really articulate my feelings well when I see her come back after six months or sometimes even a year. And it's absolutely wretched whenever she leaves Karachi again.
I can't imagine my life without her.