This maybe the VERY last 10 days, last Ramadan…

It has been a very emotional Ramadan for me, a very teary one. Each Ramadan is somewhat different than the previous one, but this year specifically has uniqueness unmatched to its predecessors. My uncle (Mother’s elder brother) suddenly passed away in March. The days leading up to Ramadan, I would be overcome with the realization that he is no longer alive and my eyes would well up with tears. I cried for the first time ever during the first day of Taraweeh (night prayers during Ramadan) as I was engulfed in thoughts of my uncle, who we were supposed to finally meet this Ramadan after 10 long years.

He had moved to the states about 6 years ago to work a menial job at a gas station on top of the hills in Clearwater, California. He lived alone, worked long tiring hours, 6 days a week, rarely had proper meals, neglected his health and his well-being just so he can provide for his wife and kids back home in India. His only source of happiness, comfort and motivation were the few minutes he spent talking to his wife, kids and mother every day after work.

Ramadan 2011 was a joyous one for my uncle as he finally got his green card, something he had been fighting for. We were all happy, it meant that he could go back to visit his family. My family lives in Toronto, Canada and we are the closest relatives in terms of geographical proximity. Mom and I tried to plan a trip to California about a year ago. But my uncle told us not to come as he was literally living in the middle of nowhere and had no means of hosting us. He said he will come visit us in Canada on his way to India, Inshallah (God Willing)…but Allah never willed it.

He had finally gotten another job and moved to Vallejo, CA five days before he passed away. Now he was living with some family friends. The job was easier, the boss was nicer and more importantly he had access to a Masjid. In Clearwater, due to the long hours, dictator like manager and the lack of Masjid, my Uncle did not get to pray properly. It had greatly saddened him that he couldn’t pray Jummu’ah  (Friday Prayers). So he was extremely content when he moved into Vallejo on a Thursday and attended Jummu’ah the next day. Little did he know, that would be his very last Jummu’ah as he would pass away the next Tuesday.

Overcoming many obstacles and unlikelihood, Mom and I flew to California to arrange/attend my uncle’s funeral. My grandma, aunt and cousins were eagerly awaiting this Ramadan so they can finally see their son/husband/father after 6 years. My mom had thought her elder brother would come visit her in Toronto and they would finally meet after 10 years. Instead, Mom and I saw him wrapped in three pieces of white shroud, lying in a coffin, ready to be transported to the burial ground right after the Janazah prayer. And all his loved ones, relatives and friends back in India got one last glimpse of him from the video of the Janazah that was streamed online.

Last Ramadan, I had been very disappointed with myself in regards to how I had spent the month, basically I wasted it as I did not gain anything spiritually. I told myself that I will make it up next year. Allhamdullilah (Praise be to God), I had never been happier to be alive to experience another Ramadan.  We all think there will always be a ‘next year’.  However, I learned this year that we should think, ‘What if this was our LAST Ramadan?!?!’. The last 10 days are upon us and it is this thought that should motivate us through it. In the spirit of the Olympics, go for GOLD, aim for JANNAH.

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