“اَلسَّلَامُ عَلَيْكُمْ – As-Salaam-Walaikum ” (Peace be upon you)
Abu would say as he walked into our home, after his day at work was done.
“وَعَلَيْكُمُ السَّلَامُ – Wa’allai-Kumus-Salaam” (And upon you, peace)
We would all reply.
Mummy, Shoaib, Raif, Dee (Rahma) and me. We would all reply. Usually one by one, sometimes altogether.
In this first exchange after our individual days, he would sum up the mood of the home and how each of his family members felt.
I crave that time.
Sitting here, today on the 22nd, of April, 2016 – I crave that time. Moments away from the 23rd of April. Which would then signify an entire Solar based – Georgian Calendar year has passed to the day I lost Abu. A year ago I had absolutely no idea how or why would I bother getting around to today. Yet somehow here we are and somehow it just seems to keep going on. The Sun rises and it sets and here we are a year later.
I crave that time.
I crave that time, when we lived in New Al Raffa Building, Bur Dubai, Dubai. He would come home from work and we would all be there. My Abu’s office was literally the next building – no, literally:
I crave that particular time and not the years later because back then we would all be there at home for that first Greeting of Abu. Afterwards, he had left STALCO, and started his own business and we eventually moved to Falcon City Of Wonders – our home there. But through these later years, more often than not, all of us were not present at home for that first Greeting of Abu.
But back then, we were all too young to have such independent social lives of our own, to not be there at home when he walked in.
By the time that he walked in – an hour after sunset or so, the rest of us had all pretty much been together for most of the day. We had played, studied, dis-obeyed, fought, disappointed, laughed, loved, among other things.
Mummy could have been angry because Shoaib and I had fought. Maybe because Raif has not completed his homework. Could very well have been Raif and me fighting, or both of us pissing her off while she tried helping us with our homework. Not all that often, but just maybe it was Rahma. Sometimes even Dee managed to be the reason the mood was off.
The home would then have a mood of her own. This mood would arise from the combination of the moods of the prevailing members of our home. Into such a home my Abu would walk in.
He would greet us and receive replies to his greetings. [“وَعَلَيْكُمُ السَّلَامُ – Wa’allai-Kumus-Salaam” (And upon you, peace)] The variations in voice and tone, inflicted upon the five greetings he would receive in response – would need to be analyzed and scrutinized so that he could understand her mood. Our home’s mood.
As the head of our family and our then leader into this life, he would proceed to right the mood if it needed it. He would use his love, wisdom and leadership to set things the way we liked it. Sometimes we didn’t let him, our individualistic adolescent, pubescent and pre-pubescent egos!
Oh God, today I seem to understand this “Ego” a lot better. I wince thinking of the times I let my ridiculously volatile ego, hurt and disappoint my Abu. Today a year after his passing away, I seem to be doing good. I hope I am making him proud. I am working on something good and I like to think if he knew what I was up to, he would be proud of me. For the most part at least.
The times that I crave, though are those few memories I have of the days he came into our home and her mood was already at the zen he was able to create in our home. I like to think those days he felt proud and at peace. He saw in all of us his impressions and semi reflections and knew his dreams had come true and that he was doing right by his family.