Monday, June 9, 2008

Celebration of the Spirit of Volunteerism.

the story of your life, our life, and my life.

Spiritual freedom is indeed the greatest achievement in one’s life and it permanently clings to you till eternity. Those of us, who can free ourselves from tension, pain, anxiety, apprehension, hostility, malice, pressure, tension, stress, strain, and conflicts, are showered with blessings of peace and joy. It is good to be free.

I am pleased to have celebrated her life, nearly 400 people attended the event, 12 different religious songs were sung by our friends from different faiths honoring her interfaithness including the Native Americans. At her funeral, the mosque was shut down by the fire marshall with over 2000 people in the hall... my atheist friends joined the funeral services as well.  120 pictures are at

This is my personal story of achieving spiritual freedom for us; my late wife and I before she passed away from Cancer.

The example was set by my mother, when she passed away, she tied all the loose ends of life. From the hospital bed, she called everyone she knew to seek forgiveness and to forgive and to bring closure to little things that mattered much; small things that create barriers and tensions between people. She made her family's life easy and embarked on her eternal journey, after cleaning her slate and the slates of the others.

In our culture, we don't verbalize our love to parents, siblings, and kids, at least my generation, we express it through our caring actions. However, when she called me and said she is leaving for good, I gathered myself over the phone and said that I loved her, and that whatever I am today, was because of her, and that I am grateful to her, what a relief that was! When I reached Yelahanka, my home town near Bangalore, I was late by about 4 to 6 hours. I sat next to her and admired her for tying the loose ends of life and going in peace, what a lesson to learn.

It was my turn now.

A month before Najma passed away, she and I consciously developed an understanding of things that needed resolutions and closure. We embarked on working a list, the things she wished away; went away one at a time,
the little things that gave her tensions, apprehensions, and fears, the things she wanted to see happen; I started making them happen one at a time. Thank God, every conflict was graciously resolved and she had this wonderful opportunity to clear the air and receive her freedom.

Three days prior to her death, I shared the good news with her, “Najma, spiritually you are a free person now, you will be pleased to know that all those i
tems that bothered you and gave you tension are done with, the loose ends are tied, and if you were to get up and walk and be with anyone, hear about anything or see anything you will be completely free from tensions”. 

The smile that appeared on her face was simply life-giving, it meant everything to me, it was a relief to me to know that as a spouse I have done my part in completing her life successfully and I thank God for that. I asked her to forgive my shortcomings and without missing a beat, she asked me to do the same. It was one of the best emotional releases she and I have had in our lives. It was a perfect Michami Dukadam. (cleaning each other's slate)

At about 7:05 PM, fifteen minutes prior to taking her last breath, on Thursday, May 22nd, our friends Gopala and Matthew joined in and we prayed short versions of Hindu, Christian and Muslim prayers* holding each other's hand making a circle. I stretched my hand under Najma's right-hand fingers, the hand was a downside, feebly she put her fingers on mine and I held her hand gently and each one of us prayed.


As I walked out with my friends, three of Najma's friends joined her for a few minutes and came out when I entered the room back again about 7:19, I was barely out for about 6-7 minutes. Najma's sisters Arifa and Razia were standing
by her feet and I was by the head. Arifa called me to see if Najma was breathing, there was tension on her face.... then both of them told me to look under the neck, I put my hand and I felt she was breathing, then our RN friend Melanie walked in and put her stethoscope, the sisters and I were getting anxious until she made the pronouncement that Najma is not breathing anymore, waiting for those few seconds seemed like an eternity to me.

Najma had a beautiful smile on her face; indeed, she had that smile all day long and remained till the funeral prayers next day at Richardson Mosque after the Friday congregational prayers.
That was the last time I saw her. She radiated peace and contentment; she had successfully finished what she was set to do in this life. She was ready and happily went on her eternal journey living a purposeful life. 

Najma had reached the pinnacle of freedom when she took her last breath. It is a beautiful way to bring closure to life and I wish this happens to me, you and everyone. Amen!

A day before she passed, after my routine conversation with her in the mornings, I started walking towards
the door and I
hear out a calling, “Miike” it was loud and clear. I was surprised as she did not have the energy to speak out like that, as I turned around, Uzma noted the puzzle on my face and instantly responded, “Mommy is calling for you”… 

I walked up to Najma, leaned over and looked at her. She said, “I Just wanted to say, I love you”. Those were the most powerful words to me at that time and I am going to treasure the sound and romance of those words. Thanks, Najma.

Najma and I have lived our life experiencing the full spectrum of emotions ranging from Khatta (sour), Meetha (sweet), Pheeka (tasteless), Teekha (off), Khara (spicy) and Kadva (bitter) brim with caring and lots of love. 

We have enjoyed the happy moments that life had offered us; we have lived the fantasies; survived the challenges; experienced the bitterness and above all bonded with the thread of romance till death did us apart.  That was a beautiful relationship for us.

Life is a poem of love; it is the fluency of passing day and night and a lifetime to live. Life is your story, our story, my story, and everyone’s story.

Najma would come alive when we went to see Sirena, a bronze mermaid in the flowing stream in the town of Salado south of Waco. Some times we just jump in the car and drive out to East Texas and sing along the golden oldies and Golden melodies (Bollywood songs) like; ai mere dil-e-nadaan tu gham say na ghabrana, chalo dildaar chalo, hum tere pyaar may sara aalam kho baithay.... gali may aaj chand nikla.. hum nay dekhi hai un aankhon ki mehekti khushboo... O duur ke musafir, a zindagi ke mele, my zindagi ka saath nibhata chala gaya... aa chal ke tujhe my leke chalon,  a mera diwanapun hai and ai dil mujhe aisi jaga le chal. We were always ready to go to see Sirena, it was a place where we felt relaxed and in tune with each other and certainly we cherished those romantic moments of life.


Whenever we wanted to go out, we consciously picked the nights when the moon was in full glory. We went out to the B & B near Lake Travis and or Lake Whitney. There is one place out there where the dome-shaped circular tent sits atop the corner of a hill...and when the Chandni (moonlight) filters through glassy-moon-roof and softly shines in her dark brown eyes, she looked beautiful like the Goddess Aphrodite and an Apsara as we call it in Hindi and a Hoor in Urdu. She looked peaceful and we both longed for those moments to freeze on us. I could not resist humming "Chaudveen ka chand ho, ya aaftab ho, jo bhi ho tum khuda ki khasam, la jawab ho" 

The soft gentle laps of the waves consistently hitting the rock edges created a symphony with the breeze kissing the leaves of the tree hovering over the tent. The occasional sounds of frogs and crickets were ironically mellifluous in the calmness of the night.

Heck we would sit on our rocker in front of our house looking at the stars in the expansive sky, the shimmering moon reflecting on the pond across our house cooled us, the desire to just stare into each other's eyes was beautiful ("Mera Khoya huwa rangeen nazara deday, mere mehboo tujhe, meri muhabbat ki Khasam") The breeze from across the Golf course made us feel good about life and being together. It was a full life, I am glad we have had those lamhaat (moments) and yadon ka sahara (memories to cherish) to treasure. 

Neither of us had the voice to sing or tune to follow, but we sure sang a lot. Our favorite duets were... O hain zara, khafa nain yoon churaye hain and rim jhim ke geet sawan gayay... chalo dildaar chalo and our all-time favorite was Ek Pyaar Ka Naghma hai.

We carefully planned our trip to India and picked the 14th eve of Moon to visit Taj Mahal. When it is full Moon, the Taj is glorious and romantic, it does something to you, it tings your heart. You feel a serene sense of romance, the desire to put your beloved on the pedestal, the desire to express how much you want her.

Way back in the early 60's when the Queen of England visited Taj, she skipped out of her hotel the next night, the entire Indian security machinery was hunting for her and eventually, they found her sitting in front of Taj and gazing at it, in her own world. The old lady was imagining her youth when she desired for her lover... the kind of romance you see in the movie Titanic. Taj is certainly a monument of love.

Najma and I sat in front of the Taj till late night waiting for
Ms. Moon to show up from behind the clouds; as Najma called the Moon; Ms. Moon and the Sun; Surya Devata. Ms. Moon decided to stay behind the chilman (clouds) and did not show up. Najma was giving instructions to the moon to show up and I was waiting if Moon would listen to her. We were determined to see the moonlit Taj and came back early the next morning.

We could not contain ourselves with that joy and absorbed the full glory of the Taj,
it is a beauty to treasure. You feel the reciprocal spirit of romance. Once in your lifetime, you must make the pilgrimage to this sanctuary of love. We were so overwhelmed with the joy that we had to find a way to balance it out. On the left of Taj, there is a sanctuary, we walked over there and expressed our gratitude to
the creator for our union. That was one of the most gratitudinal moments of our lives. Feeling and expressing gratitude brings a blissful state of being. Thank you, God.

When you push the refresh button of your life, as the Jain philosophy urges each one to forgive the other and start the life all over again with a clean slate. One who forgives is dearest to Allah and forgiving is central to Jesus' teaching as well. There is wisdom in it, every philosophy and every religion urges you to do that. Forgiving is the most powerful things one can do. Please don't delay it, forgive everyone that has hurt you. If your life were to come to an end today,  you will have peace written on your face.  It is indeed empowering.

Please take that step today; be it your spouse, parents, siblings, kids, friends, co-workers, customers, patients, clients, business partner or anyone, forgive them genuinely and call them up and let them know that you felt discomfort about a particular aspect of relationship and that you seek forgiveness, and that your heart and mind does not have ill will, anger or hate towards them. Do your part.

Thanks to Najma, she and I had the luxury to put things behind, forgive and express our love for each other, and indeed we have released and freed each other. It is Nirvana, Mukti, Moksha, Nijaat, and Salvation to her and I. She went in peace with the best smile on her face.

Peace will come to you, just do the right thing from this moment forward. Let yesterday be gone, if there is left over, do your best to tie the loose ends and clean the slate of your life. Happiness is a choice.

The creator, no matter what name you call him, be it Yahweh, Jesus, El, Ilahi, Ishwar, Deos, Ahura Mazda, Allah, Bahaullah, God, Mahavir, Buddha, Wahe Guruji or any name you are familiar with is yours, as much as he is everyone else's.  He is with you and wants you to be at peace whether you are with a religion or not, he (she or it) will not abandon you, after all he is your creator, just ask him to be with you in doing the right things, or do it on your own for your own goodness.

Please make a list of things, everything that you wish, everything you need and want, whether you do it or not, it will bring purpose in your life. Live the life purposefully, one day at a time, you will not get a second chance to experience it. Be the best person you can be. Amen!

May God guide us to clean our slate every day, bring humility and remove the arrogance. May you be blessed. Amen.

Najma was a volunteer par excellence. She was good to the people in distress, she gave them good counsel when they came to her or she went to see them. I enjoyed listening to her with admiration. She was getting the distressed calls all hours of the day, between us, we had a pact, that she can share the story of the people, but not tell me who they were and we kept the privacy of the people intact with one exception; where we had to go pick a lady up in the middle of the night who was thrown out of her house. Following that for a full week, we would go pick her up from a temporary house and take her to jobs to clean houses and then take her back, thank God finally she found a place to be a nanny. There were so many women out there that Najma was blessed to be a part of their relief. It is tough, but you and I can make a difference in everyone’s life by stretching just a little bit of our time. 

Najma enriched herself with each individual she served. The world is a better place today because of the spirit of volunteerism in each one of us. You, me and every one of us is endowed with the gift of helping others and a majority of us receive boundless joy in caring about others, though joy is not expected.

Life is a poem of love, it is the fluency of waves, constantly moving from one realm to the other without looking back, life is nothing more than your story and my story (Ek pyaar ka naghma hai, moujon ki rawani hai, Zindagi aur kuch bhi nahin, teri meri kahani hai.)

We gain a few things in life while we lose some, the purpose of life is coming into the world and departing; it is in and out and choosing to fill the in-between with joy and caring (Kuch paa kar khona hai, kuch kho kar paana hai, Jeevan ka matlab to, aana aur jaana hai.)

I thank the creator for our blessed life and express my gratitude for bringing a beautiful closure to her life. May her soul keep smiling and inspiring others to live for the sake of others, there is joy and peace in it. Amen

Thanks to Najma, she and I had the luxury to put things behind, forgive and express our love for each other, and indeed we have released and freed each other. It is Nirvana, Mukti, Moksha, Nijaat and Salvation to her and I. She went in peace with the best smile on her face.

Peace will come to you, just do the right thing from this moment forward. 


May God guide us to clean our slate every day, bring humility and remove the arrogance. May you be blessed. Amen.

Our friends from Hopi, Cherokee, Apache, and Toltec traditions have prayed for Najma's well being. Then the Bahai, Buddhist, Christian, Hindu, Jain, Jewish, Sikh, Wicca, Zoroastrian and other friends have blessed her soul. Thanks to each one of you for the grace, kindness, and love you have showered on Najma

Picking things up for someone who cannot, making time to help a stranger and simply doing good to others makes our heart smile and we can do this every day. Everything we are enjoying today is because of the spirit of volunteerism in others. 

Life is about balance, when we receive a benefit, our life balance is indebted; we have to give back equal or more to bring that balance back up. It brings peace, it is the net composure of body and mind. It is that simple to live a happier life. There is a saying attributed to the Holy Bhagvad Gita “ Neki kar darya may daal”… meaning, when you do good, do not expect rewards or any compensation in kind, but just do it. May God bless every human who cares about others.

You can start your life tomorrow with a commitment to serve others; As the Jewish scriptures say Ve'ahavta la'ger, you must love the stranger for that guaranteed happiness. Jesus reached out to the ones who were abandoned by the society, Prophet Muhammad said, the least you can give to others is hope and a smile; the Hindu scriptures want you to treat the whole world as one family, Buddha, the learned one taught the joys of living for others. The Sikh faith is indeed founded on the principle of caring for the humanity, the Jains and Baha'i believe our joy comes from taking care of others as the Wiccan believe we have to take care of what we see; life and the matter. I am particularly moved by His holiness Reverend Moon, who has built up a kingdom of goodness with a powerful mission of his work; living for others. Najma and I had the privilege to greet Father and Mother Moon and present a bouquet of flowers to them in person.

Najma enriched herself with each individual she served. The world is a better place today because of the spirit of volunteerism in each one of us. You, me and every one of us is endowed with the gift of helping others and a majority of us receive boundless joy in caring about others, though joy is not expected.

 This is my story and I urge you to consider, getting on with your family members, friends,  customers, clients, members of the society, and all the people that you know and had tensions. By forgiving, apologizing or making it up you will find freedom, freedom from tension, embarrassment, and difficulties. There will always be a few, you simply cannot do a thing, they will remain belligerent, all you can do is forgive them, which means when and if you see them, you will be devoid of negative feeling.  

May every one of us close on our lives by tying as many loose ends as we can, there is peace in it. May you be free.

Michami Dukkadam

Mike Ghouse

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