I learnt a new word this week
Taaq-e-Nissian..translated as a niche, a shelf in the wall where you could place things and
just forget about them. I have forced myself to do that every day this month, place some years of my life there and walk away. But that never happens does it?
Especially when it comes to all the years when you were not Saima Ammar.
But Saima Niaz.
For this is how you will always be in my mind.
All the years when I was not capable of non-linear thought.
As in calling you Chothu for one.
My mouth would fumble around those words. The awkwardness of calling someone older and a foot taller than me Chothu? Chothu?
You taught me to imagine more than the grays of my life
and to think up more interesting ways of describing a dimple rather than "holes in the cheek"
I was quite awkward those years, wasn't I ? You were our Lady Graceful ..of course you also had a course in self grooming under your belt, and I could but only look at you with awe.
So I remember
Tum aao bardosh,
With Music. Your Wit. With the video cassettes of Neighbours you would pick up from London, and all the care packages sent to you. Your posh accent, as you would rattle off poetry .
Hum aayen le kar
all the Convent School prudishness, skipping all things bosom in the bodice rippers I read to you bus Saima then something happens between them ; until you were screaming, I am 18 read them to me NOW!
all the knocks and bumps you suffered when I offered to guide you (for we all knew how you hated the white cane), and I true to form..absent minded.. after steering you into benches and making you trip over stairs, would turn around and ask you, exasperated Arey Why Dont You Just Tell Me When We Near A Step
Aur iske baad yeh poochein ke who guided whom?
You brought art , good conversation and so many interesting people to my life ...remember when you enrolled for sculpture while I was quite content in my Teutonic life memorizing how to conjugate German verbs? What was I thinking?! and did I ever thank you enough for being my passport to Fun Islamabad!
Did you ever despair ? We were not easy on you. Not as Saima Niaz when you kept our group (with each one of us notorious in the uni for our immense egos and fiery tempers) together. You shared with us your notes for Friedman's centre and periphery and HB promptly ran away to set up the Elite Group and declare some of us Periphery (of course it did not end there and he soon wanted a Super Elite).
And as Saima Ammar you finally settled into your mantle.
I can only remember one winter evening from another life. (And it is the memory of that evening that assures me things will work out)
And you have taken out your reading list for Politics and Foreign Policy of Afghanistan . I tell you it will be a cakewalk , coming from who I was, the history of Afghanistan started on December 24, 1979. And didnt we script it all for them?
we discover there was a Dost Mohammad, and then a Sher Ali,
and Mohammad Afzal, and Azam,
and another Sher Ali,
and by the time you reach half of my family namesakes, Habibullah, Naseerullah, Amanullah, you are crying, and all I can do is pat your hand. Bus Daoud abhi aaya, after that tou smooth running And we alternate between our tears as Habibullahs and Rahmans keep on popping up and my feeble attempts to pacify you Bus Daoud abhi aaya.
And now they say Saima Ammar too is a memory
Even in death you inspire me. Teaching me to be patient with the bumps and bruises even as the one you trust steers you into another obstacle. To throw back your head and laugh, for this is our life. We survived Kund and the rivers Indus et Kabul's confluence while everyone shrieked. So I dont know why we are drowning now.
Tell me now
Bus Daud Abhi Aaya
after that tou smooth running hai
Remember when we re-discovered this Saima? Just before he decided that Ameer ka Islam lies in designer kurtas and halal chips fatwa. When he could still sing songs of hope. So once more in your memory.
Aayey Gee Eik Baar Khogayee Jo Bahar,
Mein Isee Aaas Mein Jeeyoun Ga.
Khud Sey Wada Hai Yeh Hain Irada Hai Yeh
Tu Suney Na Suney Mein Khahoun Ga ...