It was the eve of `Eid and the flat was still messy and dusty. I had just half an hour before Marz’s bed time and I knew that I would nod off with her, so I was desperate to make sure that the apartment was halfway decent before that. Inwardly reproaching myself for having left things at the last minute, I wiped, swept and mopped feverishly.
My two-year-old followed me around, rag and sponge in hand trying to be of some help. Our last stop was the kitchen. She liked it there and now that she was over the “Ummi, what is this?” phase, she often launched into the “Who bought this, Ummi?” mode. This time, though, the chat turned out to be a little different.
“Ummi, who bought this bin?” Maryam asked pointing to the white trash can next to the sink.
I turned briefly and told her, “Your Baba did… He bought it at Walmart in Wisconsin.” I smiled briefly, remembering that Maryam was born there. But there really was no time for walking down memory lane… I continued scouring the sink like there was no tomorrow.
“Ummi, who bought those bottles?” she piped up again, pointing at her milk bottles.
“I did… I bought them for you at Kiddy Palace, remember?” I said, thinking that I really was not in the mood for this conversation.
“Ummi, who bought that oven?” she said pointing to the large oven in the corner.
“Oh, I don’t know Maryam. That belongs to the flat owner. We are just renting here, you know.” I really had too much to do.
“Ummi, who bought that small oven?” she asked unrelentingly, pointing to the small grill oven my mother had bought.
“Jiddah bought it for us because that big oven does not work…”
“Ummi…” I bit my tongue and stopped myself from telling her to hush. “Ummi, who bought that microwave oven?”
I stopped wiping and any annoyance I felt at her incessant questions faded away right then and there. My father had bought us the microwave oven when we set up house here in Singapore. It was going to be my second `Eid without him … he had died a couple of weeks short of the previous `Eid.
“Jidd bought it, Marz.” Strangely enough, the little live wire fell silent too.
When she did speak, she said earnestly, “I love Jidd, Ummi.”
“I love him too.”
“I want to hug Jidd.”
“Well, make du`aa, OK? inshaa Allah we can all see and hug Jidd in Jannah.”
“Where is Jannah?”
I dropped the rag and picked her up… the house could wait.