Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Moving on after 97 Glorious Years

Sithy Rameela Ghouse (nee Sameer): 1913-2010

She was the oldest of our six aunts and four uncles, from the Sameer side of the family. Everyone called her Big Maamee, meaning “the oldest Aunt”. She was also the most simple, patient, and loving of them all. Six children of her own and several grandkids, great grandkids, nephews and nieces was always a handful to receive, greet, and host at her humble home down Lily Avenue at Wellawatte in Colombo. Everyone of us made it a point to visit her, while passing by, when on holiday in Colombo and on special occasions of festivities and celebrations. Her table was always spread and we never missed out on enjoying her sumptuous lunch of rice and curry whenever we walked in, even unannounced.

Her siblings were also very fond of her and closely attached. She must have also been the apple of the eye of our grandparents, since she was their first born, way back in 1913? Always a word of advice, cautioning us on safety, kindness and patience, she never failed to dish out her magnanimous heart to everyone around.

Stepping into the midst of any discussion, news on the radio and newspapers, she never stepped back from joining in and sharing her open views on all topics from politics to preaching. The issues affecting the Muslim world, globally, was one of her prime concerns and she used to update everyone on the developments taking place in Palestine, Kashmir, Iraq and other hotspots whenever her offspring dropped in to see her. She was well versed in the English language having studied at St Clare’s College in Wellawatte in 1919, and was always immersed in books, especially those with an Islamic background. The Holy Quran being her top priority and its Message she also dug deep into the Hadees (traditions of the Prophet), and, was quite at home reading the works of Imam Ghazali, Jalaludin Rumy, Ibn Al Arabi, in English, in her long and pleasant sojourn on Earth. She was deeply religious and always calling on her Creator during her lifetime. She brought her family up in a strict Islamic environment and no one dared to step out of line from this area as they were closely monitored by her, all the time. Her last 24 hours was filled with a continuous chant of God’s Name until the Angels came to take her soul, and she herself closed her eyes at the point of departure from this mundane world, with no assistance from her children around.

Always ready to help others financially or by way of advice she put into practice the words of her favorite poem.

"Do something for somebody, somewhere,

while jogging along life’s road.

Help someone to carry his burden,

and lighter will grow your load".

She had a soft corner for the downtrodden and had a habit of giving away things that lay around the house to the less fortunate who used to come into her home as domestic help.

Taking over as the Matriarch of the family, after the passing away of our grandparents, she stood, solid as a rock, ensuring that everyone lived in close unity and harmony. The children, nephews and nieces, have all grown up and have their own grand children now making her a much loved great grandma/great grand aunt to more than two dozen.

An ardent lover of sweets she specially enjoyed the family favorite "Turkish Bread" which was unique to the Sameer family. Made with flour, dates, dried fruit and sugar it is still considered as the mother of all sweets by every single member of the family. Never did we miss relishing our teeth into the syrup dripping sweet whenever we visited. Now all her girls and even many of her nieces have become specialists in making this delicacy, claimed to be only known to the Sameer/Anis family in Colombo since ancient times as the "secret" of its rich taste was brought from Istanbul by her paternal grandfather Haji Ismail Effendi during his travels to Turkey (Constantinople, now Istanbul) in 1884, during which time he also visited Egypt, Makkah and Madinah fulfilling his pilgrimage of Hajj. She also translated, into English, the extensive diary of her grandfather’s travels across the Middle East from the original Arabic Tamil text which is now available for review, online, on the internet.

Big Maamee will always be remembered for her goodness by every single member of her family. May she walk through, and enjoy, the sweetness of the Greatest Gardens in Paradise!

In all our loving hearts she will always live forever.

From Him do we come and unto Him we return!

Fondly remembered by her Six loving children, and a multitude of nephews, nieces, and great grand kids/great grand nephews/nieces - Colombo and Overseas

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