Before I left for my pilgrimage (umrah) last March I jotted down a quick postie about the famous Sufi saint, a woman by the name of Rabi'ah al-'Adawiyah - Earlier Posting entitled "Auntie Nab, Rabia & Salman in Jerusalem". In the same post, I also wrote about my Auntie Nab, a person in my life of immense importance. For when my father was doing his Senior Cambridge exams in the Malay College Kuala Kangsar, my mother was the second youngest daughter of Haji Hashim, the chief clerk of the college. My mother was a go-getter from the word go, literally. She asked Auntie Nab, for they were friends, as to which of the boys in the six form was the smartest. And Auntie Nab listed down my father as a likely suspect. My father was a nerd you see, before the word was invented. I guess in the old days you would call him a bookworm. Excellent in mathematics and english, and a diligent student.
Well, to cut the story short, Auntie Nab arranged and matched my father and mother together. From whose union was sprung three unlikely boys by the names of Zahurein, Saiful and the sinner. Auntie Nab has always been a part of my life, being such an old and dear friend of both my parents. My mum's other friends may be a little reticent of my father, being the dour and brooding presence that he is. But not Auntie Nab. In her gravely voice she would admonish my father for whatever contratemp or weakness that she felt he exhibited. Not many people can do that to my dad. She was able to do it because she knew my father better than any other of my mum's wide clique. Zainab was my father's college mate, you see. The only girl in an all-boys school, and if I am not mistaken, the first girl ever to be admitted into the famous college. I guess the authorities found this girl from the sleepy town of Taiping simply too intelligent to deny her a place, despite being of the wrong sex.
After my mother's death, I remember spending some time with her talking about things. And it was in one of those, now all too few conversations, that she spoke of Rabia and her fondness for the female saint. She asked me that if I were to find any book on Rabia to get it for her. I never did, not that I recall finding one. But I always thought that I would see her again, you see, and get her that darn book. Now this shall never come to pass.
I am just told by my father that Auntie Nab passed away yesterday in Melbourne, Australia.
I am a little sad. My father didn't talk much over dinner and he looked sad too. But I am happy that my mother shall have one of her greatest friends with her now. And really, Auntie Nab can ask Rabia directly all she ever wanted to know about the female Sufi saint. I have no doubt they shall have a lot to talk about. May God bless her beautiful soul and cherish Auntie Nab in the Light of the Prophet and all his Saints.
wa min Allah at-taufiq.
Postscript: As I write this, my dear friend Ariffin, who is presently performing his pilgrimage in Mecca is praying in front of the holy Kaaba for Auntie Nab and her safe deliverance into the loving embrace of God. I am a sinner, you see. But for some unaccountable reason, God has ensured that I would at least have some friends with better and more direct connection with Him. God is Most Curious that way. I think Auntie Nab, who was a particularly curious person too, would fall in love with God again and again. Of that I have no doubt.