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Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Aunty Vijay’s house —Ayeda Naqvi

Aunty Vijay would open up her whole house and her heart for us. She would get us special Kashmiri food that she knew was not available in Pakistan, take us to our favourite chaat houses and indulge our every wish — expressed and unexpressed. There would be a car and driver at our disposal. And we would go back loaded with gifts.

Two years ago, as I attended the Urs of Hazrat Inayat Khan, the great Sufi mystic who is buried in Nizamuddin Auliya in Delhi, Aunty Vijay and Aunty Rama, another childhood friend of my mother’s from Kashmir, expressed their interest in accompanying me to a Zikr. I was not sure how this would work. But that evening as they sat at the shrine, dressed in their signature saris, with a group of strangers chanting “La ilaha ill-Allah”, it seemed like the most natural thing in the world.

And with the chanting, the universe seemed to be speaking: there is only One. And we are all His children, whether we realise it or not.

I trace the lives of my mother and Aunty Vijay back through the years. They have come a long way from the days of those black and white photos when they spent their time splashing each other in lakes and streams; sometimes those chiselled features and wide grins are hard to find. They have been through marriage, children, grandchildren and now widowhood.

They once lived across the street from each other. Now they belong to two different countries. Often they don’t get visas to visit with each other. But when they do, it is like they are fifteen again, at a time and in a place when they were no divisions, only trees to be climbed and apples to be picked.

Aunty Vijay’s house —Ayeda Naqvi


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