Ma — Shelina Shariff-Zia


Ma -- Shelina Shariff-Zia
Ma in 1963 in the house’s front garden with me and Hussein Ramji. Photo: Shelina Shariff-Zia

I remember when Ma first told me about herself; it was a weekday afternoon and the house was resting from the African sun. I went into my grandmother’s room as she sat up reading a Gujerati newspaper.

“Ma, I have to learn all these spellings for a test tomorrow. One hundred words! I wanted to go outside and play and climb the loquat tree but Mummy says I have to learn the spellings first. Will you help me Ma?”

“Shela, I can’t help you.”

“Why Ma?” I was surprised Ma had never said no to me before.

I don’t know how to read English. I can’t help you,” Ma said and looking away from me at the wall.

“But Ma you are so clever, you know everything, how come you don’t know how to read English,” and then I realized that she only read Gujerati. She read the newspaper “Africa Samaaj” and Gujerati novels but never the “Daily Nation”.

Ma drank some water from the glass near her bed.

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Author: ismailimail

Independent, civil society media featuring Ismaili Muslim community, inter and intra faith endeavors, achievements and humanitarian works.

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