memoirs

Nana Speaks; Revisited

Hey ya’ll.

Depending on how long you have been following my blog, you will know that a couple of years ago (I think!) I started a series called Nana Speaks which consists of some extracts I have been sharing from my Grandfather’s memoirs so to speak. More details of course can be found in Part 1 of the series where I talked about this little mission of mine to get Nana’s name on the literary map. Obviously, I didn’t manage to get him published, hell I can’t even get myself published and I am alive.

Still, I shared with you all his thoughts on matters that he had on his mind prior to passing away, his thoughts on friends and family, the poetic way in which he talked about being homesick, and of course more and more beautiful words he shared on the old computer before his death. If you have nothing to do, I encourage you to read it all. Your soul will be enriched.

I am sorry to say that the last time I visited his documents was February 2016 which is shameful. I can only blame work and the fact that the USB I had saved all his work on decided to go ahead and stop working and recovering the bulk of work was a mission and a half. But anyway, I am off work at the moment and on the hunt for more beautiful words to share with you all. Please spare him a prayer when you read. Thank you.

Side note; I normally edit the work’s font and capitalisation to make it look presentable but I thought it might be fun today to invite you to see it exactly how he wrote it. I’m not sure why he capitalised some words but I know that the highlights were to help him see the words better as his vision was compromised towards the end of his life Bless him.

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In SINGAPORE, I caught sight of two wrapped chocolate pieces on the bed  above a card reading `sweet dreams` and signed off, above a good night wish, by the chamber maid who did my bed. As part, I  guess, of winning friends for the hotel. In my hand from a drawer of a wardrobe around – were valuable photographs bringing back memories of friends and relatives in different apparels and poses  preserved in an album. The people represented by the photos came to me in a dream, and, I spent a lovely time with them. Missing them so much led to my next day booking an air ticket to Yemen where they were [mostly in Aden].

 

Always recall the education/education/education mantra. Three of my own kids took advantage of it. One being a doctor, a BSc and a holder of a degree in Middle Eastern studies, which handsomely pay back already.

 

Despite the bitterly cold weather, I watched many children have fun outside making and throwing snowballs at each other.  In fact, their cheerfulness made us want to have a look at the Christmas lights in town and we looked forward to hearing the xmas songs played at this time of the year like `White Christmas` in many shopping areas. But I could not dare step out of the house not to encounter catostrophies, like `flu` as a senior lad suffering from stroke and other illnesses. Instead, we chose doing something we had remembered doing 15 years or so ago at this kind of festive period, like going to the mall.

I find the fact that he refers to himself as a “senior lad” so adorable ♥ I also find myself smiling at the memory of how much cold weather terrified him bless him. Anyway, I feel like this is a good one to end this post with, until the next time.

Out of love for me and in the interest of my own longevity, he [my son] thought that it was good for me to be amidst, or close to, a telephone set so I could hear the voices of relations and friends as easily as possible.  The happiness following that, made him feel amazingly better, as it would. At least according to Asian traditions and, I guess, within many other cultures –  as simple as that. Time that I now sign off. It could well be an insult to your intelligence and unfair to talk about this any more. With that in mind, now signing off and wishing you all best at all times, wherever you may be.

Nana Speaks; Three Years Ago Today…

Although this is a long-ish post, it speaks of a great man, bear with it and you won’t regret it, I promise.

As I was saying, three years ago today, we lost a very important man in my life; my beloved Grandfather. Everytime I open a new post to write I momentairly think of Nana because I believe that my love for writing comes from him. To honour this passion and his memory, I started a little project a while ago, called Nana Speaks whereby I posted some notes and quotes from the memoirs my grandfather was writing before he passed away…

To give you a brief history; around 15 years ago, Nana suffered with a stroke and we truly thought we were going to lose him. I had never seen him look so weak and frail but by God’s grace, family support and a great medical team, he pulled through. His speech and movement were affected forever. He could no longer walk independently or write coherently and he slurred his words when he spoke making it hard to understand what he was saying. What he couldn’t communicate verbally, he would write down and it was always beautiful and profoundly poetic.

If you want to know more, I wrote a detailed account (with pictures!) of how I came about his memoirs in Nana Speaks; My Beloved Grandfather that I urge you to read. It came straight from the heart because naturally, this topic is really close to my heart. I wrote two more posts on this series I started; Nana Speaks; Questions and Answers and Nana Speaks; Prayer, Friends & Family.

I haven’t posted any of his amazing words in a while for a couple of reasons; it takes a long time to sift through the sheer volume of documents and with a full time job and constant fatigue this becoems a tricky task. But also, I have been momentarily distracted by another project I started; Sinan and Leyla which is a fictional story I started writing a while ago (about love in an arranged marriage situation) that I have decided to revisit. You should totally check that out as well. Yes shameless plug!

Anyway, seeing as today marks three years since his passing, I thought what better way to remember him than sifting through his documents and finding something to share. Essentially I have an ocean of topics to choose from; politics, religion, family etc. I decided to go with one that has been playing on my own mind for a while and that is Yemen; a country going through war as we speak, a country I left around 15 years ago, the place where I was born, basically home.

Some of you who follow me regularly will know Yemen is so special to my heart that my very first post was about it. I would love to go for a visit and see my family but obviously given the current unsafe state of affairs, it is virtually impossible to set foot there without taking a huge risk. As a result I miss Yemen a lot, so imagine my surprise when research into Nana’s memoirs showed he sometimes felt the same.

Here are some of the beautiful words he shared regarding this topic;

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My little sister is a lover of writing as well, and I recently realised that she had some thoughts on this topic too when I stumbled across a letter she wrote to her future self as part of a letter writing set I bought her for Eid. It was amazing to get some insight into her mind as she never talks about missing Yemen at all.

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Back to Nana;

“I had a dream last night, that I was going all the way to Yemen on a magic carpet. Over, under and through grey and white clouds, waters [in wadis and seas], beasts, birds and humans of different colours as well as trees, mountains and landscapes peopled or empty and bare, etc. …until entering the atmosphere of Yemen, recognising it’s smell, blue skies and temperatures…I asked the navigator of the magic carpet I was on to give me an aerial view of Hodeidah town.”

Finally, if you have read this far you are an angel and I hope you enjoyed what you read. More than likes and comments, I really just want you to send a prayer or some happy thoughts to my Grandfather, may God rest his soul and reward him in abundance inshallah (God willing). I also want you to pray for Yemen. I am a great believer in prayer. Everyday I recieve news from home that yet another person I know has lost their life. If ever there was anywhere that needed a prayer from you, it is everywhere that is a warzone right now, not excluding Yemen. Never excluding Yemen.

Once again, I thank you for reading.

Nana Speaks; Prayer, Friends & Family

One granddaughter’s quest to put her Grandfather’s words on the map.

If you are wondering what this post / quote is all about, please do read the backstory for it and tell me what you think. To give you a brief recount; my grandfather passed away a few years ago. He left behind plenty of documents from the memoir he was writing that he wanted the world to see one day. I have decided to use this platform to share some of his beautiful words. So, if you took the time to read I thank you.

I have already shared one lot of memories previously, have a read of that here! Here goes batch number two! Enjoy;

So, upon receiving a phone call from an old friend asking about his well-being and wishing him Eid Mubarak, Nana writes;

“This made me feel better after a long time on a wheelchair. It gave me an opportunity in which I gladly felt that I was shaking hands –across many seas and lands- with old friends that I have missed so much.

During the course of my long [stroke] sickness, I have greatly valued the attention from present family members as well. All of whom have been concerned and kind enough to call upon me and give me a ring from time to time.”

Continuing with the theme of prayer, family and friends and  the support system in which they become in one’s life Nana adds;

 “With the support of God, family and friends, Inshallah (God Willing) one can definitely be back on the road- completely and absolutely on top of the world. As I feel that prayer calls serve the healing process, which is one of the reasons why there are praying corners in British hospitals, like chapels.”

Came across this sweet man praying near a loved ones grave as we were doing the same for our loved one...

Came across this sweet man praying near a loved ones grave as we were doing the same for our loved one…

Personal Note;

Reading this has made me so happy. Especially because the first thing we did after being told that Nana passed away was go the quiet room at the hospital (where he died), which was used as a prayer space, and we just prayed and prayed and prayed. Reading that he was a firm believer in prayer being an aid to the healing process (hence the presence of prayer spaces at hospitals) comforts me plenty. It just makes me feel that he would have happy with our course of action post his death.

I hope you are enjoying this series of Nana speaks, please don’t be shy in telling me! Until the next time; I for one am excited at the possible gems I could discover!

Nana Speaks; Questions and Answers

If you are wondering what this post / quote is all about, please do read the backstory for it and tell me what you think. To give you a brief recount; my grandfather passed away a few years ago. He left behind plenty of documents from the memoir he was writing that he wanted the world to see one day. I have decided to use this platform to share some of his beautiful words. So, if you took the time to read I thank you.

“I encountered all sorts of questions on a daily basis by disappointed people desperate for their answers as if I was born to reply to them accurately…”

I have no idea what he was referring to when he wrote this. But I can relate to it so much. I can think of plenty of moments where I felt life and its inhabitants just bombarded me with questions I had no answers to!

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Nana speaks; My beloved Grandfather ♥

A couple of years ago I lost my grandfather very suddenly, that is a story on its own and maybe one day I will write about it. Anyway, this was the closest encounter with ‘death’ I have ever experienced. I called him Nana and he was a very special man. Until this day, I truly believe that my love for writing comes from him because he was a writer too, not professionally, but boy did he want to be published. Another thing we both had have in common.

Around 12 years ago, Nana suffered with a stroke and we truly thought we were going to lose him. I had never seen him look so weak and frail but by God’s grace, family support and a great medical team, he pulled through. His speech and movement were affected forever. He could no longer walk independently or write coherently and he slurred his words when he spoke making it hard to understand what he was saying. What he couldn’t communicate verbally, he would write down and it was always profoundly poetic…

“Before going on further, I would like to stop a bit – with a bow of respect- expressing my gratefulness for the remarkable contribution women have made in the world. To start with, for my own health care to my wife and daughters during my severe stroke illness.”

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I didn’t know how long he would survive like this. But God rest his soul, for 12 years he shattered all expectations. Despite his disability, he would wake up every morning and exercise willingly, he took his personal hygiene very seriously, he followed world affairs diligently and he wrote everyday.

Initially, because he lost stability in his hands, he would request family members to scribe for him. Proud, he then attempted to physically write himself though none of it would be legible. After this, he used an old typewriter before eventually settling for a stupidly dated computer where he would type until he would get told off by Grandma for staying up late!

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Watching him do this ALWAYS fascinated me, I would think to myself what could he possibly be writing? I got my answer several days after he passed away. It was a eureka moment where I decided to obtain all his documents and put them together and maybe even publish them (somehow) for him one day. It was a good idea in theory but a few months down the line, the enormity of the task dawned on me.

Here I was, one flustered little being, trying to tackle 12 years worth of writing a lone. I was looking at hundreds of handwritten notebooks and countless pages of endless Microsoft Word documents. The quantity of the writing was overwhelming but nothing in comparison to the quality. The majority of what Nana wrote about was politics and world affairs, like really relevant talk, none of which I understood or (and please don’t dismiss me as some blondie here) had much interest in. My knowledge on politics is limited so when reading Nana’s material, I focused on the memoir aspect more than anything else.

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Like I say, it was a daunting task and between full time work and life in general I had less time to dedicate to these precious documents. I have been thinking about them a lot lately though and I feel that, in not be able to put much of it together after 3 years of Nana’s passing, I let him down.

IF you are still wondering why it has been a difficult task. Well, clued up on everything though he was, computers were a new concept for Nana and so due to his  lack of expertise on Microsoft Word most of what he wrote didn’t save properly, leaving enormous gaps in his work, a lot of which was not in chronological order to begin with. He struggled so much- he even mentions it in one document where he thanked one of his daughters for helping him with-

“…the old computer I was using as a typewriter and had been almost illiterate at.”

To conclude, I think Nana wrote beautifully and I would like to utilise this platform to display and share some of his (non politics!) words on here. Maybe do a little segment called ‘Nana Speaks’ or something. I think he would have liked that. He was a very grateful person by nature. When writing his acknowledgements for what he believed would be a published book on day- he said;

“Finally, I wish to hugely thank with sincere appreciation all concerned who had encouraged me to write – assuming I was capable of using a pen or pencil for this. I shall definitely do so in the particular interest of peace and harmony as much as I can in my life time. I agree with that dream of nothing being better in saving human life than going forward to unify people. In my opinion, it is what the teachings of all religions seem to be aiming for. Anything to the contrary would be un-understandable. Overall, having taken that advice seriously, I have already earmarked writing what is good, as I think in my way, a few books already. So help me God in what has to be the contribution of all.”

Thank you for reading and please watch this space for more Nana Speaks. The quotes included in this posts, if it wasn’t already obvious, come from his writings.