Of blood ties & sisterhood
Hafsa & I were born exactly 11 months apart, me on 19th June and she followed on the 19th of May the year after. Our moms are sisters and extremely close to each other; hence the deep bond we had was always meant to be.
My earliest memory of her is what our moms told us – I was around 2 years old and had just started to talk albeit not very clearly. She must’ve been around a year old (chubby and cute) 🙂 She was crawling around when suddenly she just got up and started to walk. My mom says when I saw that, I simply could not contain my wonder and excitement. I pointed to her and squealed, “Baby bado (bhaago)! Baby bado!!!” (Meaning to say “Look everyone, baby’s running!) Our Mamoon fondly called her his “Paado” (fat in Memoni)– A nickname we loved to tease her with. Obviously I like to think they derived it from my “Baby bado”.
I have so many memories with her that I don’t know where to begin. She was my first friend and our weekly trips to Nanima’s helped make our sisterhood knot tighter and stronger. There are quite a few of us but it was always the trio of Hafsa, Fariha and me; we did everything together- from playing together to holding picnics, wearing similar clothes, to dancing at our various Mamoons’ and Khalas’ weddings. She was always my dance partner. We even slept side by side during sleepovers. I specially remember the night after we saw Child’s Play, we didn’t let go of each other’s hand the entire night. We loved our sleepovers. We couldn’t stop talking until the wee hours of the night and the next day we would wake up shrieking at 7 am when my Nana would be sprinkling ice cold water over us. He didn’t like us to sleep late. That didn’t deter us cousins though. We would simply get up and run into another room or complain to Nani Ma. She would defend us in front of him but scold us afterwards and that just made it funnier for us. I remember that we never had fancy toys to play with at our Nani’s so we used to come up with our own silly games. Our favorite was when we would look up at the ceiling fan, spread our arms wide and go round and round and round until we got dizzy and would collapse in a fit of giggles. We did that last year too. Her inner child was as crazy as mine. Throughout the years, all of us cousins would sit and recall that icy water, the twinkle in my Nana’s eyes and the tirade that my Nani would launch at us while we laughed.. The knot kept getting stronger. A new person was never able to tell who was whose kid as we are all so close to each other. I never needed a large group of friends at school because our happy place was right there at home.
As we grew up and got busier in our lives, the long and lazy summer days spent at my Nani’s shortened. But they were replaced with endless shopping trips, going out for Chaat and Pakola, enjoying khatti laal badaam sprinkled with chaat masala and lemon juice from the amrood wala or simply hanging out at each other’s places, reminiscing about those hot afternoons, namkeen lassi, aam ka rus and Aalo Gosht our Nani used to make for us. We loved talking about the crazy breakfasts we used to have back in the day too. Our poor Khala had to deal with 7 hungry and loud children with their various farmaishain. Kudos to her for making our childhood so magical with the love she showered on us.
When the time came for Hafsa to choose her major, she came to me. Whenever I needed advice, I turned to her. During our university years, we looked for ways to spend time together. We HAD to fill the other up with what was going on. Over the years we’ve shared countless secrets, gossip, jokes and laughter. We sounded like a laughter track in a sitcom. Our moms would keep giving us the Stare when we would laugh out loud and that just made us laugh harder. We all understood what the other was saying without having to make sense.
She was there for me throughout my wedding. We spent countless hours poring over magazines to find the perfect color combination. She even took a day off for my graduation. Whenever I think of a big or small occasion of my life, I see her standing by my side. I realized later on that she was everyone’s confidante and friend and not just mine. She had that knack for listening and possessed an envious amount of empathy. How she managed to be there for everyone around her is beyond me.
I saw her do all that along with achieving accolades in her professional life. Hers is a success story I love to recount. She memorized the Quran at the young age of 17, did D.Pharmacy, finished MBA with honors while working, got promoted and travelled around the world- all within the last 5 years. She did all this along with keeping in touch with all those close to her, being there for them-her friends will vouch for that, and being close to Allah SWT. That last part is the secret to her success of course. I used to ask her why she is in such a hurry to do everything at once. Well, now I know.
She was younger than me and yet so much wiser. I have turned to her for advice numerous times and she never disappointed.
Who will I call now? Who will tease our Khalas and who will laugh, hysterically for no reason, with me now? Who will count with me how many eggs we used to eat for breakfast? Who would go with me looking for laal badaam in a scorching Karachi afternoon just to fulfill a craving?
I always promised myself that I will somehow repay her for all that she’s done for me over the years. But she never even gave me a chance. She went; her smiling and ever laughing face seared in my mind.
And just like all those years ago, when I saw her take her first steps, I find I am still an onlooker, while she runs ahead with leaps and bounds and ventures into the hereafter.
I love you Hafsa, and I shall miss you and remember you with every fibre of my being. You were and always will be an integral thread in the warm and fuzzy blanket that is the memories of our childhood. May Allah SWT give you the best abode in Jannah and elevate your status. May He ease our pain that has come with the void that you have left in our lives. Ameen