Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Invisible Lines

Yesterday I was talking to an elderly lady in the mosque during our meeting. She is one of our African American sisters who sits quietly in the front row and pays attention to what is said and announced during the meeting. I have noticed how much of a joy it is to me to sit next to our non-Pakistani sisters whom have something else to bring to the table. This sister in particular was an elderly and when getting acquainted with her, I noticed the softness in her eyes and the many years she has lived being a strong, resilient woman.

Her husband passed away when she was at the age of 43. How young she was to lose a husband in the prime time of her life! I was listening intently to what she was saying and at the same time explaining of what was going on in the meeting. I felt valuable just sitting next to her. There is a certain wisdom and a vast depth of knowledge in elderly people and it always fascinates me when listening to their stories or the reminiscence of their precious memories. It is quite unique for me to have a conversation with someone who is out of my "league" or age group, but is there really a league in life? Can't we all just rotate age groups so now and then and learn from each other? I think the one thing, among others of course, I really value and am thankful for is the fact that my parents taught us Urdu. We were raised in a Pakistani household where 'Urdu' was the common language to speak. Not only have we mastered different languages, but the knowledge and experience of speaking these languages; whether Urdu, English, Punjabi or Dutch, makes us relate to people who are much elderly and find their native language the best and only way of communication.

Now of course, different factors such as personality traits, social skills and sincere interest are keys to open doors to people whom you may not find interesting at first. The humility, the keen eye for life and its experiences, is something you will find with elderly. They have a lot to contribute, we may underestimate them...but it is the 'gold' in them that can really value the worth of life.

I decided to sit next to her, as I am most of the time socializing with my Pakistani friends at the mosque. I always make it a point to get to know everyone, even the non-Pakistani sisters, but yesterday I felt at total ease talking to the sister about faith, the strength in women and our never ending journey. We are always present to take care of things and people and therefore our placement on earth is undeniably and extremely important. It can never be underestimated, no matter how old we get. Your wisdom is often measured by the lines on your forehead, but the lines that are engraved in the heart and the soul, the very invisible lines, aren't there to be seen...

but to endure.

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