I look forward for this particular month, everything is more calm. You feel blessed, light-hearted and ready to embrace the beauty that this month brings. With happy faces, laughter, and the smell of Oudh, a range of oriental perfumes lingers through the air. Colourful dishes full of mouth-watering flavours fill the table, with plates of nibbles, samoses and kac kac a snack made out of dough. The time comes when you have to take that glass of water, a cold trickle goes down the throat. You feel it travelling through your body touching exactly where is needed to help quench your thirst. With the feeling of it being the best ever cup of water taken in your life. Ramadan had come, my blood is running round like a child who’s been let loose in a toy store.
I eagerly rang my mother to wish her Ramadan Kareem, and the blessing of reaching another year. She reminded me to be thankful for this blessed month. Hooyo and I had our own specially talking time during the day. None of my other siblings dare to try to call, the line would not be free for the next hour. 2pm every afternoon Hooyo would know I’d be calling her on my journey home from work. By the time I would reach home it was almost an hour. Hooyo was explaining how she was sending money back home to those in need. She was not fasting, and explained how she really missed it too. She gracefully explained how God had willed her not to fasts due to illness. “Oh hooyo are you still sad that you can not fast? You have a valid reason.” I tried to reassure her but she genuinely wished she could fast. “Hooyo,” she said with a firm tone. When Hooyos tone changes to the level you try to talk to a toddler, once they’ve been mischievous. You know mother is about to tell you something you should take note of. “Yes, Hooyo? I replied. “Hooyo, being able to fast is a blessing, you don’t want to notice this when you’re not able to fast at all. Take every Ramadan as if it’s your last, grasp each day and make the most of it. Oh and don’t forget to send money to the less fortunate too. Or send it to me and I’ll include it to the money I’m already sending.”
I stopped and paused for a few seconds as hooyo continued to talk. I didn’t seem to note down the importance of this blessed month, but began to calculating in my head how much I could afford to send. I began to drift off into my thoughts of creating different figures, trying to convert pounds into dollars: £50 = $80, £40, $64. I was not the best at maths so my calculations took me out of focus. “Hooyo, just send what you can no matter what. Every penny counts to someone who does not have it. Send at least £10 that will do.” Hooyo was the type of women who was always ten steps ahead, encouraging you to do what’s good, without making you feel that you can not contribute.
One evening I was talking to a friend, Ramadan was almost over. It surprised me how quickly the days flew. Like the leaves being swept away by the gushing wind. It was day twenty-one already. We spoke about whether or not either of us was going to the mosque for the night of power. We chuckled about wrapping huge blankets and creating a comfy corner for our kids to sleep on whilst we prayed. The next morning I was startled in my sleep, I don’t know why but I was not able to return. I lay in bed browsing through my phone till the baby woke for a feed. It was now just passed 7am and my mobile rang. I stared at the call, it was my younger sister. The hair on the back of my neck stood sharp and firm like a thorn-bush. I could not answer, my heart-felt like it skipped a beat. The call stopped and within seconds I quickly opened the top landing stair gate. Taken huge strides down the stairs, I couldn’t even recall my feet touching any step. I didn’t manage to get to the call in time. The ring tone of my mobile phone was calling from my bedroom. I was running marathons round the house, breathless I quickly burst into to my bedroom, standing up I answered. Taking a deep inner breath, “What’s happened” I shouted panicking with the thought of something happening to Hooyo. Is it mum? She was just crying “No, It’s Ayeeyo (Nan)” she answered. My body crashed and I fell seated onto the bed, like the effect of a domino being knocked over. “I knew it” I cried out. Without asking her what happened I hung up and quickly began to pack. Whilst on the motorway I decided to call to find out exactly how Ayeeyo passed away. To find out that it was Hooyo who found Ayeeyo.
On the morning of the 23rd day of Ramadan, Ayeeyo (nan) would be given her warm water for ablution for her morning prayers. This routine for every prayer was in place for the entire 22 years she lived with us. On this particular morning the youngest out of the family gave her the water. Ayeeyo asked for a warm cup of tea too, to be prepared. Her tea arrived to only find that she requested the water for her ablution be reheated. It was warm, but my sister did not make a fuss and did as she was asked. She made prayers for my sister and told her everything was ok she may go.
If only my sister knew, she was the last person to exchange dialogue. Hooyo usually checks on Ayeeyo in the mornings as soon as the sun has risen. That morning she walked into the room and tried talking to her mother, no response. Ayeeyo according to Hooyo, looked asleep. Hooyo tried moving her and still no response. Her skin was still warm, and the texture as smooth as a baby. The room scent was normal, whilst her body lay curled up like a ball. Nothing strange at all, everything seemed normal. The only difference was her prayer mat still lay underneath her head. She usually due to old age would pray siting on her bed. Once prayer was complete she would neatly fold her prayer mat and place it near her pillow. But this time as lay quietly fast asleep with the prayer mat beneath her.
Hooyo before taken ill would volunteer to wash the female corpse at the mosque. From her knowledge she stuck two fingers in between the ribs. A tiny sound effect left the mouth, the same sound as a light sigh. Hooyo had just released the last air left in one of the lungs. It was then she realised her mother was to never awaken again. Hooyo quickly screamed out loud, startling everyone in the house. “There’s a corpse in the house.” Everyone rushed to the room of Ayeeyo. My young sister leaped on to the bed frantically searching for a pulse. She quietly buried her head on the lap of Ayeeyo. Hooyo began to drop a tear and was comforted by my brother who gently took her out of the room. Immediately the Imam who lived near walked into the room. Everyone stood round the body which had been fully covered waiting for the ambulance to take it away. “SubhanAllah, look she still has her prayer beads in her hand.” The Iman emotionally pointed out. Then an out burst of tears streamed down his cheeks. He was making prayers requesting that when his time is up that he is taken in remembrance of his Lord.
I later asked Hooyo why she referred Ayeeyo (nan) to a corpse. She politely replied. ” My mothers soul had been removed so she was no longer present, lay there in front of me was a corpse. A beautiful corpse that carried a tear drop in the corner of its right eye.
On the day of the funeral, I, Hooyo and sisters went into the room Ayeeyo lay. She was getting ready to be washed. Hooyo normally helps wash the corpse but not this one, she was not ready. Bravely my older sister decided she wanted to help the two women washing my nan. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a dead body. As we all stood my Hooyo and the two women began describing my Ayeeyos corpse. It was soft, smooth and warm even thought it had been in the morgue. Normally a body would be all curled but Ayeeyo lay lightly and straight. Even more beautiful was the radiant colour of her skin. It was bright and significant that you could not stop looking MashaAllah!! I took a closer look and read Quran and said my goodbye in her ear. As I slowly returned to straighten my posture I froze. “Look, look at Ayeeyos right eye.” I announced. It was the tear drop Hooyo mentioned, it was still there. It looked moist and fresh, as she lay there looking beautiful with a smile. We touched the tear but it did not wipe away, it stayed.
I was later to witness that the same drop Hooyo noticed was the same tear drop she too carried weeks later. Hooyo, stood there that day whilst her mother had her last wash. Unaware that she too would lay on the same table weeks to follow.
Mother and daughter, known to me as Ayeeyo (nan) and Hooyo (mother) past away 15 weeks to the day apart. In the city no other funerals took place. So the entire community witnessed one family put two mothers at rest side by side. Remained as they both was put to lay at rest, were their identical tear drop in the corner of their eye. An emotional rolls costar ride soon to be shared.