My grandmother is 90 and she has forgotten a lot of things, including her own children’s names. Every day, she shrinks smaller and smaller, but never into oblivion as she still is quite charming and beautiful at her age, Ma Sha Allah. But you know what my grandmother never forgets? Her prayers and the Quran. During her younger days, she taught Quran to the children in the neighbourhood. I’ve always admired this about her. She taught my mother and in turn my mother has taught me – I can only pray that one day I will be half as good as them and to be able to teach my kids the Quran.
Recently, my mother told me a rather hilarious story about my grandmother that at the same time made my heart breaks. My mother told me that she went to visit my grandmother the past weekend, and as usual, she was not able to recognise my mom. Their conversation went like this:
Nenek to my mother (in malay): Oh, I have not seen you in such a long time! Where are you currently living?
My mother (who goes to visit her regularly): I live in Singapore now!
Nenek: Oh yeah? I heard you went to jail! You are out now?
My mother (extremely tickled, and a little confused, decided to go along with this notion): Yes, I am!
Nenek: Well, do you have a bed to sleep on? Weren’t you scared? If I were you, I would have run away!
My mother: But you can’t run away because the walls are high! And no, we slept on the floor! We had to do everything in a tiny room!
Nenek: Oh! But most importantly, can you pray in there? Did they let you perform your solat?
When my mother told me the story, we burst out laughing but after the euphoria has died down, I said, “I cannot imagine you not remembering me.” And my mother said, “yeah, I wonder how I would be when I get older…”, her voice trailing off.
The truth is, we are all getting older. And one day, the youth and the health that we take for granted now will slowly slip through the hands of time.
My grandmother worked really hard. She was up early every single day and she would get ready and prepare her kuihs so that she can sell them out on the streets in order to put food on the table for her family. On top of all the household chores and having to take care of her children (she had 6), she was also a wife. But my grandmother had her “me-time” when she spent those precious few hours teaching the children Quran. She was in her zone, it was what she was good at, and it was what she truly enjoyed. And after all these years, those re-assuring words of the Quran are still being uttered between her lips as she quietly sits in the corner of the room, unfazed by the bustling around her.
You know, I always want to help girls. It is something that I live for. The very thought of Allah using me as a mediator to help a Sister in need, warms me up so much. A simple “thank you” from a Sister that I’ve never had the chance to meet in real life, never fails to remind me why I do what I do every day and to put every single difficulty that I face into perspective. It fills me up – this act of service. It is something bigger than myself and it is something that I would love to do till my dying breath.
I also know many among us that loves to help. Many among us who wish to inspire and encourage others. But we cannot help anyone, if we don’t take care of ourselves first. We can’t give, if we are not whole ourselves first. Think about this. Why do you think airline safety videos always tells us to put the oxygen mask for ourselves first before helping others? Because we cant help, if we ourselves are not okay.
It’s that simple.
A few years back, I once asked a friend who was much older than I was how she kept herself happy despite playing so many roles that carries distinct and heavy responsibilties. She told me, “Aida, always remember the No. 1.” I asked, “Who is No. 1?” She said, “You. You must always be No.1″. I always kinda thought that it was a bit selfish. But today, I remember her words, and I realised, she’s right.
So today, I am going to ask myself, how am I going to start taking care of myself? Will I stinge on my “me-time” just so I can fuss over and work longer on another product launch? Will I sacrifice more sleeping time to watch crappy YouTube videos? Will I hasten reading my Quran just so I can make it for the next Skype meeting?
My grandmother’s centre was the Quran and now, when she forgets how vivid her life was, and what a remarkable and strong woman she was, the Quran remains as her only true companion in her golden years. The Quran is taking care of her now, because she took the time to take care of her relationship with Him and His Book when she was younger. She took the time to take care of the one thing that would make her happy.
And that’s where I think I will begin, to start taking better care of myself. What about you?