Attitudes: Insensitive sympathies…

Death has different ways of striking and carrying away the people we love dearly. Sometimes it comes on tip toes from behind, taking us by surprise, hitting like a tsunami, destroying our peace of mind and happiness in just a moment and leaving us agonised and dazed by the intensity of the pain it creates. And on others, we watch in despair and anguish the ebbing away of the tide of life from a cherished person, hoping against hope that some miracle would stop it from striking.

When it comes to the passing away of our loved ones, the sorrow it causes has the power to sweep off the feet (though momentarily) even those of us who are emotionally strong. Only time can heal the heartache we experience. But this is also the time when we expect and need maximum emotional support from friends and family, and more often than not they move in quickly to help us in our hour of grief. Their care and reassurance is valuable for us, as they help us overcome the initial pain and learn to live with the sense of loss.

It is strange that in spite of their sympathy and eagerness to help, well meaning friends often say or do things which instead of helping us, only hurt or irritate us, forcing us to withdraw into our cocoon of pain.

Rehana, a university student, whose father passed away recently, says, “Everyone who came for condolences thought it was his/her duty (or right) to embrace me and shed a few (even artificial) tears. Maybe they considered it an important norm of attending the funeral. What most of them did not realise is that I felt more irritated than consoled by the big hug, as I am not comfortable to physical touch. People should understand that sometimes saying a few kind words or just holding hands in silence can be more comforting than hollow words or acts”.

Nazia, who lost her husband a couple of years back shares her experience, “When the time came for my husband’s funeral casket to be lifted, I wanted to have some time alone with him, paying my last homage to a very caring husband and reliving memories of the happy times we had spent together. But sadly I was denied this by the eagerness of friends and relatives who gathered to have the last glimpse of him; a large number of people squeezed into the small room, not realising that those were very sensitive moments which I did not want to share with everyone. The grief and suffocation caused me to faint and when I came to, my husband was gone forever.”

There are times in life when pain engulfs our heart in such a way that we do not want to let it go and we feel that our grief will remain as intense throughout our lives. Any attempt to divert it only increases the pain. Asma and Zohair share the memories of the death of their first born. Zohair says, “Our son caught pneumonia when he was only three months old. We were devastated when he succumbed to its complications. Most of our relatives tried to console us by saying that eventually we will have more children and our heartache would subside. I felt angry and hurt and more miserable than consoled by these comments”. Asma asks sadly, “How could people expect us to forget our first love? After all, every child holds a special place in his parents’ heart. Years have passed and we have been blessed with two more children but the memories of our first child keep clinging to my heart and I still feel that a part of me died with him”.

Another mistake people often make is asking the bereaved not to weep. What else should be expected from someone who has lost a near and dear one? Unshed tears leave deep scars on the soul, scars which never heal; tears are nature’s way of healing pain and it is better to let them flow. Slowly they will subside because no matter how great the pain, no one can cry for ever.

Saying things like “I understand your pain”, “I have been through this”, “You will get over it with the passage of time” or “When so and so died…” only increases the heartache, because every sorrow is unique in its nature and everyone reacts differently to pain and mourning. In their hour of bereavement, people usually like to believe that for them, life will never be the same again. This is the last homage they are paying to the departed person they loved dearly. By speaking less, listening more and letting the grieved person pour his/her heart out, friends and relatives who come for condolences can make the bereaved feel that they understand and share the anguish and sense of loss.


MORE CONFESSIONS OF A GRANDMOTHER! (Dedicated to my darling granddaughter Javeria Elahi)

 I traced my index finger tenderly down the delicate features of my granddaughter; she seemed so vulnerable as looked at me with a timid look on her little face. I exclaimed to my daughter who was sitting propped up in pillows in her hospital bed, “She is so pretty, but I will have to admit that I would never be able to love her as much as your first born”. As if instinctively, my daughter nearly grabbed her three days old daughter away from me. Holding her closer to her bosom she enquired in an indignant tone, “Why do you say that Ammi, isnt she my daughter just like Sadia is?” I laughed at her reaction (although I felt a bit surprised), “Relax darling, of course I love her too, but the bond with a first grand child is different, but maybe you will understand my feelings when you yourself will become a grandma!” I was adamant in my confession as I took the little one back from her arms and busied myself in changing her nappy.

Javeria (as she was named later) was a loveable child and although I carried on with delight the duty Grandmas usually perform when their daughters are convalescing after childbirth, some how I could not feel the same rush of ecstatic happiness I had felt more than three years back when her elder sister was born!

Days passed into weeks and weeks into months. My grand daughter was growing up, she seemed to bubble with life, was more demanding than her sister and definitely possessed the qualities which endear a child to everyone around him/her.

Snuggling closer to me whenever I took her in my arms, she seemed to look at me with questioning eyes. “Why should I be loved less if I was born a second child” she seemed to challenge me! I often felt that she remembered the discourse between me and her mother on that day in the hospital! Or maybe my inner guilt was playing games with me!

Even before I realized it, I found myself deeply in love with my second grand daughter. I would call my daughter just to hear her cooings on the phone and whenever she came to visit with her mother, I just couldn’t put the darling child down, carrying her in my arms the maximum possible time.

Yes, I had to admit to myself that she was making inroads into my heart. I was confused. My first grand daughter was as dear to me as ever, but somehow her little sister was sharing the same amount of love. After her first birthday passed and Javeria started to speak a few words, the loving way she called me Naneemee (Her way of saying Nani Ammi), her sticky kisses when I took her in my arms and the way her pretty face lit up with a happy smile when she saw me, I slowly realized that I was fighting a losing battle.

On her second birthday I had to make the confession! On her card I wrote, “My darling Javeria, this is the best day to admit that YOU are second to NONE! And I accept my defeat with pride. Because having a granddaughter as loving and caring as you, is no little honor for me!

Forever yours,


          After Javeria, although I have been blessed with more grandchildren, I never made the mistake of making any above mentioned claim again. I realized that each grandchild holds a special place and brings with him/her a new fountain of love which erupts from the depths of a Grandma’s heart.

          My grandchildren have taught me that love defies all rules of Mathematics! It multiplies when it is divided, has no option of subtraction and keeps on adding up with time, until it reaches infinity!

          (Yesterday was Javeria’s twelfth birthday and in moments of nostalgia, I went down memories lane! And I found myself smiling at my folly as I remembered my hurried claim when she was just three days old!)


LOST COMPANIONS…an old article in The Review

They are one of my early childhood memories, my sincere friends who were always ready to help me, cheering me up when I was sad, giving me company when I was lonely and always eager to share their wisdom with me. I too loved my companions dearly and felt refreshed whenever I had a meeting with them! They were always there for me, never complaining if on some days I ignored them and spent more time with my family, toys, or the television.

          We remained together till my teen age years, when I was a school and college student and however busy I was with my studies, I somehow managed to sneak out some time for them. Sometimes this meant less sleeping hours, but my companions were so dear to me that I didn’t mind compromising my sleep for their sake.

          Life moved on! I stepped into a married life, had a home to run, children to look after and time became a precious commodity for me. Although I missed my childhood companions badly, gradually I lost contact with them. On some nights, as I lay in bed, tired to the bones and half asleep, their memories came drifting to my mind and feeling a rush of guilt for abandoning my faithful friends, I promised myself that someday I would make up for this lost time. But try as I would, I just couldn’t manage to carve out those extra hours for myself, time I needed to re-bond with my childhood pals.

          Time flies! Before I knew it the children had grown up and were no more dependant on me for all their requirements. They had their own activities and hobbies to pursue, their friends and studies to spend their time with. I had to realize that they needed space, time for themselves of which I could no more be an integral part. The years of hectic activities were finally over! Days grew longer and I had to find out means and ways to keep myself busy. Although at times I felt lonely and left out but had to put up with this new stage of life. The wisdom my childhood friends had given me helped me a lot to cope with this change, to make compromises without a word of complaint.

One day, just to kill time, I decided to clear up a cupboard which I had not opened for years. And I stumbled upon my old friends whom I had nearly forgotten in the hectic years gone by! Ah! My books, my best friends forever! It was a moment of mixed feelings. I felt a surge of delight although I could feel the tears pricking my eyes. I picked up my old friends lovingly and carefully wiped and dusted them, one by one. over the years, they had aged just like me! My hair had grown grey, their pages yellow and the lines under my eyes matched their worn-out look. But they were as eager as ever to give me company, to wipe out my loneliness and to impart me the wisdom and courage to move on with my life! And then did I realize their true value! Books are my blessed companion which on just a touch, pour out their hearts into my own and the love of books lasts through out a lifetime and is a joy forever! Since that fateful day, I have never had a moment of loneliness!



Confessions of a Grandmother!

REFLECTIONS: Confessions Of A Grandmother

Yasmin Elahi writes on the joys of becoming a grandparent

There are some sentiments in life too great to be described in words. We search for them but find them too weak to express our feelings. Holding your first child in your arms, or for that matter just knowing that he or she is on the way, is one of those sentiments.

When my eldest daughter was born, I thought that no happiness I shall ever witness in life would be greater than this one, but oh, how wrong I was! Pure ecstasy was still in store for me and I learnt this when my first granddaughter was born.

To this day I cannot analyse my feelings when I first saw her. It was joy to the limit of agony, awe, a strange sense of nostalgia for the time which had flown away so quickly. All these mixed emotions gripped my heart when I set my eyes on her, all wrapped up in a big green blanket. I laughed and wept at the same time, while the little darling, my granddaughter, gazed back at me with a triumphant look in her eyes. It would not be wrong to say that she came, she saw and she conquered. From the day she was born, my granddaughter spins my heart around her little finger.

The confession that I have to make today is of the change of heart as soon as I became a grandmother. Gone were the rules and principles, which were strict and inflexible, according to which I had raised my children. I was surprised to see myself helpless, giving in to the whims of my granddaughter. With the passage of years, a silent war began between me and my daughter. She was sometimes amused and sometimes annoyed by my interferences in the upbringing of her child and reminded me time and again how strict, as a mother, I was with her.

There are times when a rush of guilt seizes me and I think that if I had the chance to live my life all over again, I would be more lenient with my children. But in my heart of heart I know very well that I would be the same firm mother that I was, with my unbending rules. But to be a grandmother is something totally different!

How can I bear to see someone scolding my darling on trivial matters? (even if the person giving this scolding is the darling’s mother!). To me she is the prettiest, the best-behaved and the most intelligent child in this whole wide world, who needs to be pampered and cuddled all the time. No! Scolding is not for my granddaughter –– she is too sensitive for them.

As the issue does not seem to settle down with time, I have decided to set up a Grandmothers Action Committee, The GMAC, to safeguard the rights of grandmothers. The rights are as follow:

1, It is the basic right of all GMs (grandmothers) to spoil their GCs (grandchildren) to their heart’s content, and parents, especially mothers should not deny them this right. Complaints that we, as GMs, have changed should not be entertained as everyone has a right to change his or her opinion at any stage in life.

2, GMs should be given the right to interfere, whenever they want, in matters relating to the discipline of their GCs, after all they are more experienced than the parents, therefore their opinion should be valued.

3, GMs should be given the above mentioned rights because they have no idea of how much time in life they have left to follow these delightful pursuits!

All GMs who agree with me are invited cordially to join my committee, but if some of you do not share my feelings, please be kind enough to keep your thoughts to yourself, or you will be guilty of accelerating the silent war going on between me and my daughter for the past many years.
Attention, all grandmothers! A meeting of the GMAC is about to be held at Hug House, Love Lane, Mohabbat Nagar… all the GMs who want to attend plz join my Committee… those who do not want to join (for fear of their daughters), can come as guests. GMs can bring along their GCs, but their daughters are strictly not allowed:)))))
N.B. The GCs will be served with ice cream, cold drinks, chocolates, chips etc. i.e. all the junk foods they love but can not eat to their heart’s fill under Mama’s strict eyes!!!