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Monday, February 25, 2013

Zohra Nabijan, my nani

Most people have heard me talk about my nani, Zohra Nabijan.  She was an amazing woman.  Nani was a woman beyond her years in a time where women didn’t have the opportunities they do now.  Add that she was living in a third-world country (Fiji), and the opportunities dwindle even more so.  My nani was a very strong woman; a social activist, an activist for the poor, President and CEO of the Jannana League – a league of Muslim women helping their community, primarily those impoverished.  She was also an English teacher once.  She, along with my Nana, were greatly educated and loved to travel. 

She passed away in 2011.  I was heartbroken.  I was here in America and she was in New Zealand. I couldn’t be there for her and wanted so dearly to be. I have a lot of anger around the circumstances leading up to her death – anger that I know one day I will have to deal with – including people I will have to deal with.  But until then, I try to focus on the amazing woman nani was.  I feel like I have taken after her in many ways.  I get my strength from her.  The Nabijan legacy lives through her in me, as an Ali. 

In recent days, my Muni Aunty – mom’s youngest sister – came to America with my uncle to visit.  She gave my mom a few pieces of jewelry she knew my nani wanted her to have.  One included an old pearl and gold ring; a pair of earrings, another was her gold wedding band and lastly, a second wedding band that had sapphires on it.  Sapphires happen to also be my birth stone.  I instantly was drawn to the jewelry.  Not because of its sparkle – because it didn’t have much sparkle.  It was old and vintage and told a story. 

My mom let me wear the gold band with sapphires on it - I proudly wear it thinking of who my nani was – she was a woman beyond her years.  Her purpose in life was about more than the material possessions she could purchase, or living beyond her means. She was humble. 

Although I know I will never be quite as great as her, I strive to try to be great, in my own way.


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