Bits of ME
Her eyes shut and the rhythmic movements of her chest decelerated to a pause. The ‘death stare’ tore through my faculties; a dreadful helplessness enslaved my body.
In that moment I was a captive to PAIN!
It drains every little ounce of sturdiness. And for a body(mine) already slumped by the cold nights beside her hospital bed, my lights just went out! Only to be awakened by my own hysterical moans.
A dark day when HE finally called her.
She knew Him as ALLAH and I know Him as God, yet for both of us, He is one and the same.
Every last word from her disappearing deep voice during the two months incarceration to cancer, came alive! Like a loud whisper in a silent night, one line after another was drumming in my head.
The lockdown-nightmare that it was, grounded us in mourning; my niece and I reminisced of her mother’s last conversations with us while in hospice.
Cancer, if you have ears, “you took away my sister but not her convictions to Islam.”
So entrenched that on her death bed, recitations to the Quran offered pleasant company, and the constant craving, ‘how many days to the start of Ramadan, was her swan song.
Mind you-Ramadhan was only weeks away. She never lived to fulfil that pillar because God called her but her yearning to fast left a void in my heart that hurt.
If she were alive and healthy, her daughter and I often comfort ourselves in the nostalgia, ‘now she would be baking her delicious chapati’s for Iftar.’ She who never miss a day of fasting etc.’
I am alive and healthy and regardless of my unbending attachment as a Christian, fasting on her behalf is a given.
The humble child of my mother, my elder sister she was. She who loved selflessly and never imposed her religion on any of her siblings.
I ran my thoughts by her daughter Linda and interestingly, she just did the same! A non-muslim too!
So last year around this time, my niece and I, fast in her honour from when the ‘Moon was sighted’ till EID. This year, we are counting the second and it has been heartily fulfilling.
Nakabonge Mwanajuma died on March 27, 2020. May her soul rest in peace.
Bits of YOU
This may come off outlandish to the Islamic teachings as Muwalimu Mayambala Muhamad says, ‘no one should fast for another.
The period of Ramadan must be done by only Muslims and they must do it individually’.
Nonetheless, grief is a complicated process according to Reverend Diana Nkesiga and there is no right or wrong way to grieve. I have thus chosen to grieve that way!
Nkesiga explains, “a lot is hinged on the person’s faith, the circumstances that surround the death, the relationship the bereaved has with the deceased and whether one is prepared or not.”
Doing good deeds in remembrance of the departed is not only a blessing to the departed but also for the living.
However, Mayambala says, the Islamic teachings carry the exception on fasting for ‘them’ and conducting the obligatory Muslim prayers (salat) on their behalf.
He adds, “All these deeds keep our loved ones alive in our lives. You can’t forget them; they connect with you always. At times even some people dream about their departed loved ones, once you do something good, at times the Lord makes you meet with them in dream…”
Remembering little or big things that our loved ones used to do while they were still alive is one way of keeping them alive.
“You don’t want to lose them, their legacy must keep on,” Nkesiga says.
“Our cultures and faith give us ways to direct the grief process but many times one form or ritual doesn’t fit all and some feel it is far from their reality and it is superficial. The real journey starts at different times for each person.”
In remembrance to her late husband, Nkesiga says she keeps her wedding ring on.
“I choose to keep my husband’s photographs up to prove I am not afraid but I want him to be remembered and to be talked about without fear…We laugh, we cry and also remember he wasn’t so perfect as people made him out to be in the edited version of eulogies,” she says.
That is how she embodies grief.
While others choose to keep items or leave the room of the deceased untouched, others may remove all the pictures of the deceased from the house.
No matter the form, that echoes the part where Muwalimu Maymbala and Reverand Nkesiga agreed that shedding a tear is not enough to mourn a beloved one.
Grief is about reflecting on the lives of the departed and trying to make one’s relationship with them meaningful.
Grief shouldn’t become an obsession, the kind that dictates one’s faith. Rev. Nkesiga says you should not surrender ALL to mourning but find some time to remember those who meant and made the world for you.
Deeds to do in memory of the dearly departed
*Holding congregational/Memorial prayers
* Memorial buildings in their names
*Memorial mosques in their names
* Giving tokens/gifts in their name
*Planting trees in their memory
*Construction of a borehole/well/tap water in needy communities in their memory
*Organising charity balls/concerts in their memory
*Naming children after them…