Personal Column: Bitter cold in the summer sun

My Grandmother, Bushira Aslam, with one of her four children, Naveed Aslam.

Courtesy of the Aslam family

My Grandmother, Bushira Aslam, with one of her four children, Naveed Aslam.

It felt like just yesterday, if yesterday was 10 years ago. A careless toddler, running around the streets of Lahore, Pakistan. I recall that moment every day, when my grandmother grabbed my freeloading arm right before crossing into the crowded maze of cars and motorcycles. Sure, it’s not the best and most exciting memory to share, but when you only see that person at maximum once a year, it doesn’t seem that bad. To me, my grandmother was seen as another guiding pillar, besides my mom and dad. Seeing her in-person once a year developed an unwavering bond between me and her, although not verbal, I felt as though that bond had been there from the very start.

My grandmother, Bushira Aslam, was born in December 1942 and died in July 2022. She gave birth to 4 children, 1 being my father. After giving birth to the next generation of the family, she settled down into a humble abode with the rest of the family. The extended family is pretty big, consisting of a handful of uncles and aunts, my nieces and nephews, and the family friends who stop by frequently. I saw my grandmother as a dedicated individual, she never gave up an idea or thought she had. Once she was set on a goal or thought, it would never leave her mind.

However, the bond that we mentally formed was abruptly taken apart by the sheer force of death. It was in the middle of July 2022, my family had shown up to visit her, but another visitor appeared just a week after we had. Death had visited and taken her in just moments, still unknown what exactly she died from.

This was the biggest roadblock I have ever faced. Before this, everything felt doable, things like school and going somewhere in life felt possible. After, it felt like I was stuck at the foot of a wall, unable to climb over. Unsure of what to do at the time, I locked myself in a room, unable to process what had actually happened. 

It’s not real, don’t worry.

You’re dreaming, wake up.

I repeated these phrases to myself repeatedly like a satanic ritual, lost in my own thoughts. Just then, a knock on the door I had locked brought me back to reality. 

Come on out, it’s time to go to the funeral.

A soft voice whispered through the crack of the door. I immediately recognized the voice as my own mother. I promptly got up to answer the door, and after a brief conversation, I was dressed and ready, for the thing I wished never happened. 

By now, my grandmother was wrapped up in a makeshift casket, laying in her room. I saw her face for one last time, her lifeless, but free face. 

We arrived at the mosque about 20 minutes later, and we were greeted by a group of her colleagues, friends and even extended family. The ceremony was the most dreadful thing I have ever experienced, knowing that the person I have literally known my entire life, is now never going to be in my life again, at least in the human form.

Recovering from this death still stretches to today, despite it being months before. Trying to admit to myself has been difficult, and if you are going through something similar to what I have been describing, just know, you aren’t alone. I know sometimes it can feel like you can’t recover from wherever you are mentally, but you can. Life is short, although it doesn’t seem like it at times, it really is. Spend time with your family, friends and others, because spending time with people you enjoy is the thing that makes life worth living.

Spending time with the people you care about is the most important thing for human development. Like I said in the beginning, despite only seeing her in-person once a year, we developed a bond that I think everyone should have with the people they care about.

Rest in Peace Bushira Aslam, you are and will be missed.