BY Syeda Shehpara Naushervan

 

Today, a year has passed since I last saw the face of an angel, sleeping peacefully, prepared to move on to his final abode. Those were the heavens from where Salaar (my son) was sent by Allah (swt) into my life, as His greatest blessing – and to those heavens he returned on January 22, 2018.

Losing my 18-year old, my first born, just few days after we happily received his long-awaited driver’s license and ID card, was life changing. The feeling was like losing my breath and never catching it again – a continuous nauseous state and a permanent loss of energy and pangs of pain. A grief-stricken mother put it so rightly, “A mother instinctively protects her child. A grieving mother instinctively protects her child’s memory.” To protect Salaar’s memories, I had to live through them; and to live, at all, was like entering into an unchartered territory. In a whole new pursuit to live, I began my journey where no map existed and no guiding signs would lead the way. The only guidance and motivation that Allah (swt) chose for me was Salaar himself; thus, introducing Salaar to you all to honour his memory, not only as witnessed through my eyes but the eyes of the world.

During the early phases of Salaar’s life, be it his infancy or toddlerhood, I used to see in him something which would not pertain to an ordinary child. If ever I got frustrated because he would not eat, he looked deep into my eyes as if to say he understood my frustration, but also wanted me to understand his likes and dislikes. I called him my ‘little man’ as he was too mature and sober to be called a toddler.

Sunny, as we called Salaar at home, took whatever circumstance came his way bravely and with a positive outlook. His staunch faith in the will of Allah never let him complain ever till the time he lived. At 14, Salaar braced the impact of the death of my brother (Ali) and my father (Syed Ehtasham Zamir) in a span of only two years but always stood tall as a pillar of strength and smile for the family. A day after my father’s demise, Salaar, at his own wish appeared in his O-Levels exam and did us proud by securing six A stars and one A. I later read one of his verses reflecting sheer positivity.

“Such is life whence joy turns painful,

Vibrant what once was, turns a dull grey.

But alas! would truly a rose be beautiful,

If one knew it was never to wilt away?”

He always held his family as his top priority and never hesitated to sacrifice some of the charms that a teenager of his age might not miss. My son chose to be with me on my birthday and missed his high achievers award ceremony, despite my insistence not to miss this honour. His words still echo in my mind, “Mummy, I would be elevated and happy receiving the award but if I get to spend time with my family instead, I would never regret missing it, as I have my priorities very clear.” He even told me at that point that “fancy gadgets did not bring him as much joy as a smile on my face”. This is the reason that even if I can see him no more, I am still smiling through my tears, as that’s what would make him smile too.

I saw people gravitate towards Salaar. He always strived to earn what he desired rather than getting it the easier way. He was a student of TMUC since A-Levels but was residing with us outside Islamabad due to his father’s job. However, because of his outstanding results in AS (three straight A’s), despite of distant learning, the HM of TMUC enthusiastically suggested us to let him join the college full time in A2, expressing her desire to select him as the head boy for the betterment of his academic profile. As his parents, we took faith in her suggestion and sent him to study there with a heavy heart. He told me that he really wanted to be the head boy and experience what it holds but one day he called me and said, “Mummy, do not keep your hopes high as now the head boy would be elected and not selected as per student’s demand and I have only been here for four days and nobody knows me.” I suggested him to take his name back to which he replied that “my HM thinks so high of me; how can I exhibit a character that I only stand up when I have a chance to win? Even if nobody votes for me, I will not withdraw. All I need are your prayers.” My son won the head boy’s election with a significant margin, which was one of the greatest moments of joy in his sweet short life!

As a head boy, Salaar took his responsibilities with utmost commitment, loved many and was loved by many more. As his friends say, Salaar always lent a sincere ear to students even in their personal life problems to help them and once when suggested not to take his position so seriously he replied, “I am under oath to help students who reach out to me.”

Salaar – if you knew him well or barely at all – always left you wondering. Whether it was about how absolutely God fearing and upright, pleasantly funny or just down right appropriate he was – he left his mark. The manner in which he carried himself always made me ponder about the signs of believers mentioned in the Quran.

“Allah praises those who convey the message of Allah and fear Him.” Al Ahzab (33:39)

Salaar’s poem printed above also conveys his message to the youth to be God fearing and steadfast despite the temptations and not to lose hope and faith.

Salaar was blessed with a heart not touched by worldly temptations as one of his friends narrated an incident when he sought Salaar’s take on the common activities that today’s youth indulges in. Salaar responded, “I’m not a scholar, as I try hard to keep my prayers punctual. But, I can say that I want to go to the heaven along with my whole family and I want you there with me. If we give in to the allurements of the world now, we may not be together in Jannah.” His reply filled my soul with immense pride the day I read this verse from Surah Al-Saad (38:46) “Indeed, We chose them for an exclusive quality -- remembrance of the home (of the hereafter).”

He was truthful, honest and always kept his promises. “Verily the Muslims …the men and women who are truthful (in their speech and deeds).” Al Ahzab – verse 35

Mother’s Note

We have all heard tales of remarkable teachers who were second parents to their pupils. I wish teachers of today would also cherish their exemplary students, after they are gone as much as they prize them in their lives.

I have shared my son’s idea and perception of life, through which he is reigning the hearts of many, for children of his age and elders alike, in the hope that it touches their life in a positive way. Even if one person gets inspired to fear Allah the most and abide by His commands and prohibitions, to place their families above all, to keep the integrity of character on top of material and worldly benefits, to value compassion, humility and empathy more than professionalism and gets inspired to win hearts more than the desire to win the world – Salaar will continue to win even after he is gone. His slogan as the head boy “I win, you win” will be truly lived.