One of the early memories I’ve is of my mom taking care of me when I was sick with fever. I was lying in my bed under my blanket and wearing my favorite rusty orange dress. I must be around 5 years of age.
Being the oldest of 5 siblings, I hardly ever got the full attention from my mother. Since she also had 3 other children before I was 6 years old, this did not leave much room for my mom to provide me the special attention I craved. Besides, she had work. Every morning she left for school to teach young elementary schoolers. She had responsibilities to take care of, before leaving house. Same after she got home at the end of school day. Lucky for me, my grand parents lived with us. When mom was not there, they were.
I was close to my grand parents and never felt unloved. When I lost my grand mother, I must be 8 years old. This was around the same time when my father, who was out of country serving as an Ahmadiyya Muslim Missionary in Ghana, came back home after 3 1/2 years. I still remember the day he got back. Even though I had not seen him in a long time I knew it was him.
I had looked at his picture everyday, placed on a table in one of the rooms. I think I could have told it was him even if I hadn’t seen the picture. I remember how everyone was surprised when he returned.
No one beleived I could tell it was my father. Especially after he looked different living this long in Africa. He looked tanned and had lost weight. Besides he wanted it to be a surprise for my mother and did not inform ahead of his arrival. It was very joyous time for me. Way too much excitement.
When he was gone I would not eat much food. My mother used to say, “she missed her father.” He used to hand feed me the food and I loved him so much that I would eat even anything I disliked. But who would feed me when he was not there.
I did not know what I felt and why. But I remember being sad.
I also remember the day he left for Africa. I was 4 years old. Wearing my favorite outfit. A garara dress. We went to see him off at the Train Station.
There was a big crowd who also came to see off my father. All I rememeber is that when the train was about to leave, it whistled and started to run slowly. I wanted to say khuda hafiz (bye) to my father, but someone stepped on my toes. My heart went in pain as well as my toes. I wanted to run to my father but someone unknowingly had prevented me from doing so. I got tears in my eyes. Grand pa saw me and gave me a hug.
Some of happy memories from childhood are when I went for walks in the early morning after the morning prayer with my grandfather. We used to walk over the bridge and look at the water and at the beautiful white flowers in it or at the dry river-bed in summer.
All these relations, and the love I received from them made me who I am today . And I am thankful for all they did for me.