My aunt in India passed away a few weeks ago. As a young girl she contracted Polio and for as long as I remember lost the use of her legs which became deformed. She lived in our tiny ancestral brick home in our little village in India probably since she was born. She would move around only using her hands. They did not have the means to buy a wheelchair and how could she move around in it anyway in that tiny brick open house, that was basically one open room and a courtyard. Her bed at night was a woven cot or a large wooden table that would become a living area by day. She would rise at Fajr and pray and I’d find her reading Quran in the morning for at least an hour without fail. There was a small bathroom to take baths in with a bucket with water from the well in the courtyard. She would use the old fashioned metal hand pump to pump the water and drag the bucket to the bathroom.
After a while a girl from the village would come to help make chappatis, rice and daal which were the staple meals. In the afternoons I’d find her doing some sewing or embroidery, ordering some things from town, writing letters or doing accounts. A dobi washerwoman might come and collect clothes to be washed. Sometimes a traveling salesman/woman would come selling fruits wrapped in cloth or glass bracelets wrapped up on a sari clad woman’s head. In the late evenings I’d see her walking with her hands to the kitchen, using thick sticks for fire in the old mud brick cooker making food for us.
What changes she must have seen in her lifetime as India moved from an Agrarian economy to an Industrialized one! A tiny village that must have been the same for the last 1000 years all of a sudden in the last 50 was invaded by electricity, television, telephones, cars, refrigerators, bollywood and the rest of the world. From farmers, most of the men of the village had to leave for places like Dubai and Saudi to make money for their families.
Our village was truly a simple, traditional place, even by Indian standards. Going there I could always imagine what life was like during the Mughal period.
I’d sometimes see her and feel sad thinking about those disabled people in the West doing marathons, working or achieving things. I’d ask her what she wanted most and she’d always say she has everything, what else could she need. Once or twice she said she’d like to go to Hajj one day. In the last few years I asked her again if she wanted to go to Hajj, and she said ‘Pshhh…how can I go to Hajj! I’d just be a burden on everyone.’
She had a very sarcastic, ironic sense of humor and a very practical outlook on life. She was always kind to me but never so much over interested in my life or how things were somewhere else. She seemed happy to be daughter of the house, until her father died and then managing what she could and living independently.
Because of her disability she never married or moved, the consequence of which her brothers and sisters and related families all would come back to the village for special occasions and be kept together even when life flung them to far-reaching places like America.
I keep thinking what a difficult life she had, to endure so much hardship, to never find love. I have no doubt it was difficult for her but I’ve never seen her suffering or in despair. She accepted that this was her life. Despite it all she had what we all strive so hard for; a small amount of contentment, independence, time for ibadah, free to do the things you love, her own little home, surrounded by her family and culture, seeing the generations being born and getting old.
I ask Allah to forgive her sins and enter her into Jannah.
O Allah, Forgive her, have mercy on her, give her peace and pardon her. Receive her with honour and make her entrance (grave) spacious. Wash her with water, snow, and ice and cleanse her of her faults like a white garment is cleansed of stains. Requite her with an abode better than her abode, with a family better than her family and a spouse better than her spouse. Admit her into Paradise and protect her from the torment of the grave and the torment of the Fire.
O Allah, Your female slave and the daughter of Your female slave is in need of Your mercy, and You are without need of punishing her. If she was pious then increase her reward and if she was a transgressor then pardon her.
O Allah, surely Razia Phupi is under Your care and in the rope of your security, so save her from the trial of the grave and from the punishment of the Fire. You fulfill promises and grant rights. O Allah, forgive her and have mercy on her, surely You are the Most Forgiving, the Most Merciful.