I actually had to borrow this title from my new friend made, Maryam, whose blog is by this same name ‘in the now though not forever’ http://nownotforever.blogspot.co.ke/ Please do find time to check her amazing art 🙂 Meanwhile, let us talk about what made me borrow this title particularly.
Just the other day, I dreamt of her. She was in a wheelchair and my mum was pushing it out of what seemed to be the hospital doors. I went to her and she gave me a very long hug. I looked at her and said, ‘I haven’t seen you in a very long while. It almost seemed that you were dead’ and she said, ‘No I’ve been okay.’ I don’t clearly remember the end of that dream all I know is that it was too vivid and seemed too real and I spent the entire next day thinking about her; mama two. I probably never really got over her death, maybe that is why I keep having this strange dream again and again where she is alive and I keep questioning her, ‘I thought you were dead’. The conversations in all the dreams have always been the same, the only difference is the venue of each dream. Sometimes I dream of her at home and sometimes at the hospital. I have never really understood dreams or whether mine do have a certain meaning or it is just the nostalgia of being with her once again…all I know is that, a part of me may never be recovered.
Just one day after this dream, is when Ahmed Darwesh, the popular yet humble journalist passed on. I haven’t understood till this moment why his death came as a big blow like a knew him personally. Probably it could be because he died still very young. But there is always wisdom behind God’s actions and maybe we were meant to learn from his example and be more alert on our actions because when death comes, it doesn’t choose on the basis of age. Just after his death, the following day, a close cousin to a friend passed on too. I also didn’t know this young man personally, but i had heard a lot of good things about him and it made me empathetic since he was still very young; probably with so many dreams of the future ahead. May Allah forgive their sins and place them in the highest level of jannah together with the prophets Biidhnillah.
I remember during one of our classes during a writing workshop by Kwani? one of our mentors told us of her story and how she feared death to a great extent. And that at one time during a trip in South Africa, they were asked to write their own eulogies; as a psychological way to deal with such fear. So she wrote about herself and how she has been through her lifetime; talking about herself like another party. And she said of how she cried writing those details and it felt so real; she was mourning her own ‘death’. But it was only after that exercise that she realized that she wanted to be remembered as a writer; for the books she has written. She wasn’t even a writer by then but that exercise made her realize what she really wanted and she ventured into writing more deeply and she is now a very successful writer mashaLlah. Respect to my mentor; Yvonne Adhiambo Owuor; the author of ‘dust’ amongst other of her works.
After hearing this story from her, I always said that I was going to do that exercise as well but I kept postponing it; probably because of fear of what I am going to discover from my own words. But I know I need to do it because I have always anticipated my own death to a paranoid state.
I always saw death in everything and nothing. When I board a matatu, I imagine the most terrible accident happening to the extent that I see myself in blood until to the declaration of my death and how each person is going to react about it. It is almost as if i am watching ‘the final destination’ movies with me being involved. At that moment, it is almost as if i am in a trance and the imagination is so vivid that I start crying at my own death. I’ve imagined my death in a road accident, sometimes when cars pass by too close especially lorries i see them falling on me, sometimes when i used to walk under the bridge i would imagine it falling on me. By God’s name, no single day passed by without imagining my own death. I remember how my best friend and I had the laugh of our lives when I told her of the first time I passed through the bridge under tunnel and imagined it falling over me. It seemed silly but it is real for me. When I see policemen I see chaos starting and bullets running right through my body. And many a times people told me that I watch too many movies, while some tell me I am an over thinker. The irony is that horror movies are my best; probably because they act as a challenge to my deep fear. It is true I have always been paranoid and an over thinker; and as much this has damaged me too many times, it is sometimes a blessing. And sometimes before I sleep, I imagine this is my very last night and it makes me wake up, take my phone and text the people who mean the most to me with the notion in mind, ‘this could be my very last night.’ I never stop telling the people who i care for, how much they mean to me and sometimes they feel I am just being too sentimental but most don’t know what it feels like to lose someone all of a sudden and they are GONE. This paranoia that everyone keeps talking to me about is what makes me strive to be a better person everyday.
I am not going to write my own eulogy as Yvuonne did; I probably have to gather up my guts for that first but I very well know what the closest people to me are going to do upon the announcement of my death.
I know of how my lovely mum will shed only a few tears at a time, trying to be strong even when everyone around her is wailing. I know she will be patient and try to accept her test from God. But I also know she will sometimes sit in her bedroom and have her tears. She will say she misses her ‘partner’ and her ‘baby’ as she always referred to me. Being the tiniest in my family, I always got the advantage of being treated the same way like our last born. I know of how she will talk to my sisters about me for days. I know she will talk about my dreams and try to do for me the rest that i wished to do. I know she, along with my siblings will mention me at every mention of adventures that were in my bucket list. I know she will mention me for so many things and I know she will start blaming herself for so many things. I know she will start blaming herself for not letting me go for these adventures, for not letting me travel to the many places i wanted to go. I know she will blame herself for the tiniest things she didn’t let me do and she will feel guilty about it. I know that because she is just an over thinker like me and i can put myself in her shoes. I hope at that moment, someone will tell her that I really loved her and that I really appreciate how she raised us all. I hope someone will tell her that she did all she could to make me happy and that that was very sufficient for me. I hope someone will tell her that I never felt angry or deprived of anything for the little things she wouldn’t let me do. I hope someone will tell her that it is not true that I loved my phone or my job more than I loved her. I hope someone will tell her that I was always so busy and only worked so hard for her sake and not because I loved my family less than my job. I hope someone will tell her that all the people I talk to in the phone can never be close to how much she meant to me. I hope someone would tell her that I was never going to make her make an appointment so as to see me just because I would have become a very important person with a good job. I hope someone will tell her that I would never be arrogant once i became successful, just as she so much feared. I hope that person would take as much time as they can to make it clear to her that I loved her to bits and that all I wanted is to die with her being pleased with me. Because I very well know how hard it will be to convince her; I know that because I would probably do the same if in her shoes.
I know of dad too. I know he will only shed a few tears during the burial but that will be it. I know he will hide his feelings like he always does and no one will ever know how he is feeling. I know he will miss calling to come watch an inspiring story on TV, or any other story like he always does with the saying, ‘hey writer, come see this movie it’s a nice one.’ I know he will miss narrating to me anything that I had missed watching and he would tell me with the hope that his writer daughter will expand her mind and be a famous writer as well at some time in life. I know he will be strong for my mum’s sake and he will keep consoling her again and again. I hope then, someone is going to tell him that I loved him a lot and I always admired him to the extent of wanting a husband with his qualities. I hope someone will do that for I didn’t tell or show him that often enough.
I know of my older brother. I know he will stay at home for days; staying low profile. I know he will be deeply affected. I know he will recall all the times he would hug me and tell my mum how much he loves me and he would always add, ‘I don’t know why she doesn’t love me’ and I would pretend to be serious like I don’t really love him. I know he will probably question himself what were my real opinions of him. I hope then,, someone will tell him that I really really really loved him and as much as I was hard on him on what he should do and what he shouldn’t, I would want someone to tell him that all I ever wanted was the best for him.
I know of my elder sister. I know of how strong she would be; just like dad. She would be the one to console mum as well. I know she will also cry secretly at times but I also know of how patient she will be. I know of how she would tell her son about his aunty who would only call him ‘baby habiby’. I hope someone would tell her then that at her every epileptic attack, I lost myself in fear of losing her. I hope someone will tell her that she was my strongest example to follow; a role model in patience and faith.
I know of my younger sister; the one who follows me. I know she will cry a lot but still, in silence. She will still tell people not to wail and that it is haraam. I know she will miss her ‘commander in chief’ as she would usually call me. She would miss the supervisor of the house as mum would call me and say that when I am not at home things just go haywire. I know she would miss me because she considered me her best sister and closest at that. I hope someone would tell her at that point that I would have missed her very much as well, if she were to be gone before me. I would have missed coming back home and her hurrying to me with a smile to say she missed me and to ask how my day was. I would miss her forcing me to smile when I couldn’t.
I know of my second last sister. She is the one closest to my nature; the aspiring writer, the poet, the adventurer yet she is more bold and filled with charm more than I ever was. I know she will cry a lot too. I know she will miss giving me an unexpected pinch or slap and how much it annoys me. I know she will miss telling me ‘give me a smile…no, i don’t want that one. I want the million dollar smile. Give me the million dollar smile!’ and that would make me smile without effort. I hope someone will tell her that even though I didn’t have time to listen to her endless stories, I still loved her like she never knew.
I know of my baby sister. Oh, my favourite. I know she will probably look at my sisters and mum as they sob. She will look at them silently as if she doesn’t understand what death is. But I know she knows. I know she understands because she is much smarter than anyone of her age. I know she understands and she is so observant over everything that happens around her just like she was the only one who ever noticed my secret tears. Like how i would go to the room after something has happened and i would see a small shadow following me to every place i went. She doesn’t make it seem obvious but I’ve always known she was following me and when i lie on the bed, she too would lie down in pretense that she is sleeping yet I know she is checking out on me. I hope someone will tell her she is the sweetest and most intelligent little thing I ever came across. I hope someone will tell her that she is lovely, loving and that she meant the world to me.
I know of my half siblings in Yemen. I know they will really be sad and cry too. I know they will say of how we haven’t met in more than fifteen years. I know irregardless of their own suffering in their war country, they will mourn for their gone sister. I hope someone will tell them then that as much as i didn’t communicate with them much it was because I was dying every time they talked of the bomb lasts and the chaos there. I hope someone will tell them I really cared even when I didn’t say it. I hope someone will tell them that I anticipated and day dreamed about meeting them and my lovely nieces and nephews always. I hope someone will tell them that it is not true to say, ‘out of sight out of mind’.
I know of my half brother who i have never met in my life. A very successful radiologist in Suudiya. I hope someone will tell him how proud of him i have always been. I hope someone will tell him that i always wished to meet him and his family someday. I hope someone will tell him even when i didnt keep contact much, I still cared and loved him.
I also know of my extended family. I know they will remember me as the workaholic i have always been. I know they will talk of how i was always busy and up to something. I know they will talk about my smile because it is the only thing they quickly notice when i am not putting it on. I hope someone will let them know that the lack of my smile never meant i was being moody..it is just that at times, i was too tired to stretch any muscles including my lips. I hope they will also know they meant a lot to me.
I don’t really know about my best friend; she is the only one i can’t guess her reaction. She always had her unique way of dealing with difficult times. I don’t know how much she will cry or even if she will, and that is because I don’t really remember seeing her cry; ever, except for once and it was just over the phone. However, I know she will probably go low profile for some time and she will probably be writing my biography just like she always said she would. I know she will write about me a lot in every avenue she will get to talk and write about me. I can imagine of the things she will write; the silly things we did together in the 8 going to 9 years. I know many other people will try talk about me too but she will be the only one apart from my family who will have the most authentic information about me. I know she will miss me a lot or who else was going to cling to her neck? I know I have always told her how much she meant to me and that she is the most precious gift from Allah so I am sure she wouldn’t really need a person to reassure her of what she meant to me. Instead, she will be the one reassuring my family and my other close friends. She is the strongest girl I ever met and probably one of the craziest. Nonetheless, she has always been the one who pushed me to take mature decisions in life. No one was ever going to replace her in my life. I am not worried about what she would do without me, Instead, I would be the one who would be totally lost if she was ever gone before me. After Allah, she is my biggest strength. No one has to tell her anything. She knows it already, she always did.
I also know of my very few close friends; those who were really sincere to me and had no ulterior motives. Those who have always been there at my worst and at my best. Those who never left me just because i was different or paranoid at that. I know them very well and i know how to differentiate between them and my other ‘friends’ who were only in my life for their own benefits. I know how well they will write about me (coincidentally most of them are writers!), how an intense and deep person I was and how they appreciated me. I know they will miss everything about me; including my paranoia. I hope someone will remind them then that I really appreciated that they understood me even when it was so hard to do so. I hope someone will remind them that when I used to tell them how much they meant to me, then I really really meant it.
I know of the very close friends that i was so attached to, who left afterwards. I know of how they will remember the good times i had with them and our deep conversations. I know they will remember how much they meant to me. I know they probably miss me then. I hope someone will tell them then that it always ate me up why they left without any goodbyes or where i ever went wrong. I hope someone will tell them that i cried several times for that. I hope someone will tell them that i scratched my head for answers to the extent my mind became inflamed. I hope someone will tell them that i missed them…and that whatever in me that made me leave, was never intentional..and that i loved them sincerely.
I know of my old friends and teachers that i never talked to frequently but who would still check up on me once in a while. I know how they will remember me for the personal encounters with them especially my high school classmates. I know they will laugh at the many funny moments we had together. I know life kept us busy but i hope someone would tell them then that i still treasured them, loved them very much and wished them the very best wherever they are.
I know of the ones who used to call me names and of those who thought and said i was being hypocritical pretending to be holy when i wouldn’t shake men’s hands and so on. I know of those who smiled at me yet they talked at my back. I know of those who mocked me right in front of my eyes and bullied me emotionally. I know that at that time, they will scrutinize everything that i ever told them. They will try to find deeper meaning in every conversation i had with them. I can very well point out and bet who will then feel guilty and those who just wouldn’t care even then. I hope someone will tell them then that I actually never hated any of them and that I only felt hurt whenever i met them once again. I hope someone will tell them that whenever i met them, i debated with myself whether I should just forgive them or leave it upon God and we let Him be our judge on the day of judgement. My heart would always flip from forgiving them to letting God deal with them…i hope someone will tell them, as much as they damaged me, i still hope when my moment of death comes, my heart will be at the ‘forgive them’ side.
I also know of those who just knew me because of my writing and those who considered me their mentor. I know they will probably miss my posts and they will be motivated to follow my footsteps in writing. I also know of the ones I used to persuade to read my work so that they could give me their opinions and they never did; i know at that instance is when they will rush to see all that i wanted them to see but it will probably be too late to give me their opinions and criticisms. I hope someone will tell my writing fans that they inspired me as much as they considered me an inspiration to them. I hope they will keep writing and that someone will tell them that i loved them , even when i never knew them personally. I also know those who just knew me because of the extra ordinary samosas that mum made and no one could ever have enough of them lol. I know some wouldn’t even remember my name but once they mention the samosas to their friends, they will remember the samosa girl lol. I can even imagine how they will write their encounters with me while buying the samosas…the thought of it makes me laugh. Who ever thought i will be remembered because of food?! hehe
I know of those who misunderstood my intentions, my words and my actions. Those who thought I was being selfish as I whined and complained over my messed up emotions. I hope someone will tell them that I lived with fear, that my thoughts ate me up like the way fire finishes off wood. I hope someone will tell them that I only sounded selfish coz of my over reactions and my repeated statement of what is going to happen to me. I hope someone will tell them that I always cared for them more than I made it seem. That by Allah’s name it was never meant to be selfishness; just deep fear in disguise…
Life has taught me to never take risks when it comes to the people you come in contact with. The smallest of things you do can change their lives forever and it is humanity that eventually gets restored. This may never really help deal with my anticipation for death but i wanted to have a permanent posted reminder to all those that crossed my life at some point; that when i said ‘i care for you’ then i really meant it and for those who misjudged me and took me wrongly by my words or actions then i beg for your forgiveness. Truly life is too short and we never know who will go first. Please forgive me for anything wrong i did to you and if i happen to die before you then please pray for me. And if you get to jannah and don’t find me there, please ask for me. Who knows, maybe your duas is what will make me get a place in jannah in shaa Allah may we all meet there. It is true, I am in the now, but i very well know, it is not forever…may we all have husnul khatima in shaa Allah.