Monday, May 01, 2006

Nasreen...our Daffodil.

Nasreen...our Daffodil
Shaheda Hassan Nina

It difficult to speak about Nasreen in the past tense, and without emotions...but I was asked by my brother Mac to say something in print, so here I go.....although as I sit to write, I am numbed with a strange feeling because, the truth that she is no more has yet to settle in on me, even after a week now.

Is it the distance or is it because she went away without even saying goodbye,while I was going through my daily routine in another country, quite oblivious to the fact that such tragedy awaited us!

I was working when a phone call on my cell by my friend Rubina in Washington awoke me to the cruel truth that Nasreen is no more. It could not be true, I shouted to her and more phone calls later...it dawned on me that yes, my closest friend has indeed passed away.

Next morning, I caught myself talking to her as was I was going out of the house..another close friend, Rounak in Hamilton also had the same experience. She was given a bouquet by her staff on this sad occasion and she too said that she was telling Happy to see how beautiful the flowers were! Are we shell shocked or is Nasreen really listening to us because now she has the freedom to go beyond one country?..don't know..can't tell.

Nasreen always had time for everybody..whether it is a village women awaiting health care or an acid survivor needing some comfort or Barish (her nephew) who wanted her to read a bed-time story..she touched people's heart and made a difference to their lives.

I remember, when she came into my house, the first stop would be at the kitchen, where she would chat with the household staff and ask them what they were making for her to eat, throwing them into fits of giggle, then a peep into my daughters' room ( they were teenagers and needed some peer support from Nasreen aunty!) and then finally she would come to my bedroom and embrace me in her all too familiar cozy embrace.

This was Nasreen. Ever in a rush to do many things and ever apologetic that she had not come to see me or the girls in a while. I could never understand why she always was in such a great rush...her daily agenda was crowded with a thousand errands or issues or meetings, but every night it ended with a visit to her mom, whom she never failed to visit.

My own mom having passed away years ago,I remember telling her,that her mom should be her priority of visit, not her friends...as she was getting old..lest did we all know, that Nasreen was rushing on with life because her own time was limited; so she needed to make her mom the happiest mom ever.

We shared so many memories together that it would have to be written in a book...but I will only tell you about the last time I saw her. It was around this time last year that I went back to Bangladesh. Nasreen had then become a mother and she was SO HAPPY!

I went to see her in her mom's house in Dhanmondi and I remember Nasreen holding little Jamila to her chest...she looked so tranquil and beautiful that for a moment I remained transfixed and could only look at her quiet bliss.

Little Jamila was the focus of her attention for the last one and half year..as I mentioned before, Nasreen lighted up people's lives..but Jamila lighted up her entire existense...only God felt that her wordly day was done and her happiness should be short-lived. Why? because Happy was so HAPPY? Really!

Daffodils are springing up all over. It reminded me of Sister Joseph Mary in Holy Cross College who would recite very emotionally Robert Herrick's poem
Fair Daffadils, we weep to see
You haste away so soon;
As yet the early-rising sun
Has not attain'd his noon.
Nasreen, we will always weep for you and miss you..our Daffodil. May Allah rest your good soul in peace.

Inspired by Nasreen's work on the violence against women, Shaheda Hassan Nina is currently undertaking a diploma on Assaulted Women and Children's Counselling and Advocay Program at George Brown College, Toronto, Canada

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