Everyone Needs A Grandmother

Okay, the next few entries are kind of one mass one, split over a few days. I’ve been making notes for the past weeks as I see things I want to write about, but not had net access. I seem to have some time now so I guess I should spend it showing anyone reading this that I’m till alive and this blog isn’t dead yet 🙂

First a bit about now. It’s raining. In the desert. Only a person who lives in this country and sees no rain all year long can possibly get this excited about a little rain and a few gusts of wind. My cousins are talking long walks in the gentle drizzle, getting excited about catching the odd rain drop on their tongues and prancing around yelling: “Look! A puddle!” It’s a whole fresh look at rain for me. I wonder what they’d do if they ever smelt the heady, earthy scent of almost-rain that we get back home…

Ever since we got here, I’ve been reminded of what it’s like to have a grandmother again. My father’s mother used to live with us and when she moved to another town, we visited at least three times a year (every holiday) to see her. But since she’s passed away, life seems to have lost some of its richness. I’ve tried to collect her photos and keep a journal about what I remember about her, but there’s so little I wonder if I’ll ever understand how much of her character has influenced me.

Will I be able to explain to my children what a wonderful ancestor they had? But that brings up the uneasy question – will there be any children to tell? Let’s leave that one for now.

My mum’s mum is so totally different. There is no doubt that I get much of my habits and thinking from her. But despite the fact that she is more voluble and outgoing than my dad’s mum was, there is one similarity in both of them. They are true elders. They carry their experiences and wisdom in every nuance of their speech and actions.

I look at people who are now growing old and those who are young – I’m in that wonderfully amazing position in life right now where you can see both sides from the outside. The top of the hill if you please. And it scares me to see the kind of elders my kids might have to rely on in the future.

I have visions of elegance when I think of my grandmothers. Stories of a time I can only imagine and dream of living in. Their palms are worn out with honest hard labour, the kind no one does anymore. Their hands are wrinkled with experience, each line speaking of the sacrifices made by them. Their skin has taken a full circle, from the softness of youth through the harshness of the rough work until it was sandpapered by time into a cool, leathery smoothness.

And through it all they posses a transparency, a sincerity, an honesty that makes you trust them completely. I feel sorry for the people in my family who will never know my grandmothers, never hear the clarity of their low voices, the music of their trembling lullabies, never see the visions created by their descriptions.

But I am grateful that I knew them and had a chance to learn about them – however little it was. I can pass that on, and I can preserve my own stories in a way they never thought to do. Just in case, someday, someone wants to know me as well as I wish I could have known them.

That’s the thing I want to say today. If you have a grandmother, sit by her feet, ask her to tell you all the wonderful history hidden inside her memories, see them through her eyes and then write them down and keep them safe as one of the greatest treasures of your family.

And for yourself, look around, experience life and write about it from your perspective – what you love, what you hate, what you’re afraid of and what you desire and dream about. That way, some day your sons and daughters will be able to know not only the parent you are to them, but also the person within you.

Bint Ali


3 thoughts on “Everyone Needs A Grandmother

  1. Re: Grandmothers

    Salamun Alaikum,

    Welcome back sister. I hope you had a good time in a nation foreign, yet laden with a warmth so precious. Living amidst family is a blessing in its real form.

    Age brings with itself bundles of experience along with creases of joy. How our elders see the world, maynot be as sugary as we do – for they have now been pledged with a more higher regard. Oft, my grandmother would share her wisdom with me and my siblings, and we; not aware of the beauty of her words just listened in respect. Now as I age, I begin to understand all what she had long narrated.

    With regards,


  2. Re: Grandmothers

    s/a Ummzahra

    Sorry for the delayed response – I just got back home from an 8 week vacation!

    You’re so right about slipping into the role that our elders are leaving for us. I wonder how I’ll ever manage to do it and if I’ll set as good examples as my grandmothers have done for me.

    I just left my gran and it’s scary when you say goodbye and don’t know whether you’ll get a chance to sit by her side again or hear what she has to say.

    All I can do is pray that Allah (SWT) grant her a long life so I can learn from her for many years to come.

    Thanks for dropping by. I’ll be uploading lots of stories from my vacation over the next few weeks so do come over!

    Bint Ali

  3. Grandmothers

    My grandmother passed away when I was 14 (5 years ago). Life just isn’t the same… I’m the baby of my family and my mom’s health is poor and my husband who is always the baby of his family has a really old mother … I get sad thinking about it. Life just seems so short and each moment we have with the elders is fading and we’re slowly slipping into their spot…
    -Ummzahra, http://www.jihadofawoman.com

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