Five Ramadans Without You

Assalamualaikum Mama,

It’s been five Ramadans without you. Sometimes I can’t believe how fast time flies. How have you been? I hope you’re happy over there, in the company of angels. I still remember your peaceful smile and a certain light that emanates that day as the white shroud drapes over your face. May Allah SWT place you in the highest of Jannah and have boundless mercy on you. Sometimes I am glad you are spared from witnessing the madness we are experiencing in this world right now. But sometimes I wish you were here to go through these crazy times together.

It’s been five Ramadans without you. I have been praying for you every day. I have been praying for you especially hard on days when the missing comes back in waves, which are usually on special occasions that will trigger memories of you, occasions where we’d gather with families. Ramadan, Eid, birthdays, weddings… but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t hit me all the same on the most ordinary days like when I had to go for a grocery run, when the radio is switched on to your favourite recitation of the Qur’an, when I’m rearranging the dusty, torn photo albums and out fell an old photo of you from the inside, when Chommy curls herself at the edge of my bed and looks at me with her sleepy, green eyes…

It’s been five Ramadans without you. The arrival of this blessed month ever since, has never been the same. They might think it gets easier, but it never does. It’s a kind of separation that people can never entirely comprehend until they’ve gone through the process of losing a loved one through death. I just get better at distracting myself with things like work, writing, reading, amongst other things. It’s quite like a dormant volcano. That part of my memory goes quiet and quiescent when I busy myself with things. But once I pause and a memory of you spills, that’s where everything just bubbles and erupts and my eyes sting from hot tears, pining for just one more moment with you, and I turn to nowhere but my prayer mat to throw my desperate pleas and supplications heavenward to Al-Jabbar. It’s the only way my soul finds comfort, the only way my heart heals.

It’s been five Ramadans without you. Ramadan this year arrives at the quietest month. I guess it feels particularly lonely since I can’t have my family over or be with my friends due to the circuit breaker restrictions which is affecting me more than I thought it would. We used to be a family of five. But now, it’s just dad and I. And honestly, as much as I appreciate that I still have my dad around to have iftar and do my taraweeh prayers with, it does get too pin-drop silent at times. The space beside me misses the kissing of your forehead. Your favourite tasbih misses your delicate fingers. Your reading glasses and mushaf misses your hands flipping through the pages. The living room misses your laughter. Your bed misses your body as you unspool with a sigh after working so hard to make our house a home. The kitchen misses the hours you spent in there, whipping up delicious meals my novice hands and failed forays in recreating your dishes will never hold a candle to.

It’s been five Ramadans without you. But I know you are here with us, in between the palms of our hands upturned in prayers. Here as dad and I are breaking our fast in silence. Here as I’m chopping onions the wrong way, tearing up, washing my hands and remembering how you’d shake your head and laugh. Here in my nieces’ and nephews’ growing bones. Here in the fold of my clothes which your gentle hands had touched. Here in the heart that aches beyond words can paint, but still beats as though unscarred, untouched by grief. But my soul recognises the place for relief. I now know why you were tirelessly teaching me to love Allah more than anything else in the world… You knew you’d leave me quite soon, and there’s no one who will best fill my lonely days but Him.

It’s been five Ramadans without you. Thank you for teaching me that I’ll never truly be alone. That we will meet again in another home. That I can have nothing in this world, but as long as I have Allah, then I have everything. That He will keep me contented on days the pain gets a little too heavy to handle. The faith you’ve sowed in me, I’ll never trade it for the world. My faith in Allah and in the afterlife is what’s keeping me going. The unrelenting prayers you’ve breathed for me, I will breathe the same for you. Will you wait for me just as how you’ve waited for me on nights I came home late from school?

It’s been five Ramadans without you.

And I am counting down just how many more Ramadans and Eids will I live to celebrate… before I get to meet the biggest Eid and run into your arms, again.

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