I’d like to begin this letter by saying how incredibly proud we are of you. For someone your size, I must say you’ve taught us way too much! Looking at you, I just wonder how amazing it is that the littlest of people can give you such huge lessons on how to live life! Below are excerpts from a conversation you had with Daddy while we were on Skype (you were all of 5 years old then!):
Daddy (on seeing Nana on Skype): Hi dad!
You (surprised and puzzled): You have 2 dads??
Daddy: Yeah, I’m so lucky!
(I was going to butt in here saying he also has 2 moms but realized I’d better not, since you may be sensitive about it)
You (laughing and teasing Daddy): But I’m luckier than you! I have 5 moms!! Dadima, jiji, mommy, nani and maasi! I’m the luckiest girl in the world!!
We constantly worry about what you must feel like growing up, but you on the other hand believe you’re the luckiest person in the world because you’ve actually not lost 1 mother but gained 4 more! That day you taught us that life is all about perspective and how we choose to view it. We could constantly look at what went wrong and feel bad about it - blaming fate, destiny, God, each other, whatever – or we could just focus on the positives and try to see the good in everything around us! And if a 5 year old can do it, we sure can!
During one of your recent trips to India, one of Mama’s best friends decided to give you a very special gift. Over the years that he hung out with Mama, he would steal her hair clips just to annoy her. She would tease him in retaliation saying, “I know one day you’re going to give my clips to all your numerous girlfriends!” Little did she know back then, that they would come around to her own daughter! Anyway, you were more than excited (obviously) when you saw the clips. I remember I didn’t tell you whose hair clips they were when I showed them to you the first time, you somehow just knew who they belonged to! At the end of your trip, I asked you what the best part of your holiday was. Your answer to that was your sleepover with your cousins. Then I asked you what your second best memory of the trip would be. Without batting an eyelid, you said “Mama’s clips!” (The 10 day trip in question included lots and lots of time with your cousins, a surprise birthday party for you, your jiji’s wedding, a day at the amusement park, movie theaters, LOTS of popcorn, countless presents and mostly all things you love - so the options really were many ;)) It was amazing to see how something as miniscule as hair clips had managed to add so much happiness to your life!
Actually, the way you view life is a lot like the way your mother did. The smallest of things would make her so happy, because in her head she’d make them huge! A passing compliment by her boss, for example, would be narrated to us back at home almost as if she was in line for the top position at the firm! Behind her back, I’d roll my eyes, thinking in my head “what a showoff”, but now I realize it was these little moments that gave her so much joy. And that’s how she always managed to be so happy! Always grateful for what she had, Mommy was a firm believer of only counting her blessings. In her head, problems – no matter how big – would be reduced to tiny specs while the focus always lay on how strong and graceful she wanted to be, no matter what! Even when she was diagnosed, she smiled and told us it’s not a big deal and she’s going to get through it. What she was really looking forward to in fact, was taking you to Disneyland, setting up the online business and getting your name tattooed on her arm!
Speaking of your mom and her exaggerating ways, she also always knew what the right words to say were – even though sometimes they’d be one too many ;) While she’d say things to your face, making no two bones about it whatsoever, she would also always be our go to person if we needed just a little pep talk. For instance, Mommy and you had come down to visit at a time when I had just learnt how to drive. I decided to take the both of you out for a drive and needless to say, the driving was less than top notch. Once back under our building, I absolutely struggled to park the car. After far too many unsuccessful attempts, she finally got out of her seat, took over and parked the car like the champion that she was. She made it look so easy and I was embarrassed beyond words. On our way up to the house she turns around and tells me “Oh Zeba, by the way I must say, you can drive really well! Parking here is so difficult, and you made the job so much easier for me! I’m proud of you.” – That was all the validation I ever needed.
This is another area where you take after your mom so beautifully – always somehow knowing the right thing to say. When you heard about your great grandmother (Nani’s mom) passing away, you called Nani that day and said, “I’m sorry about your Mom, Nani. But don’t worry because now, your mom and my mom are with God and they’re together.” At 5 years old, you somehow turned out to be Nani’s biggest strength to help her get through the loss of her mom!
At some point in time or the other in our lives, we all find ourselves looking head on into the face of our immortality – whether through our own experiences or the experiences of others. While our adult ideas of passing on could be morphed by what’s written in the books or what we see in the movies, a child’s idea of the same can actually be nothing but beautiful – and that Armeen, is in part, what this letter talks about. This letter is an attempt to remind you, as you’re growing older, about your acceptance of what could possibly be the single most defining moment of your life, and how well you embraced it, so that you can always turn to your own self when you’re looking for certain answers. At the same time, it also hopes to serve as some sort of catharsis to those that have lost someone close, and hopefully help them look at this only certainty of life from a better perspective. It also serves to show you how much like your mother you are. By an extension of that fact, coupled with your own sense of individuality and confidence that you’ve developed at such a young age, you’ve got to know that the world is your oyster and even though the path may sometimes be less than smooth, you’re going to come out of it just fine.