A Gratitude Letter

My life has been a series of events; good, bad, painful, shocking incidences that have shaped me into the person I am today. In my life journey, there have been a lot of people who told me “You will not thrive because you are too sensitive,” or “You are not as pretty as your mother” or “You are not very intelligent” and my 11-year-old brain translated that into “YOU ARE NOT ENOUGH”.

I spent all of my teen years immersed in books and tests to prove that I AM ENOUGH and the isolation made me a girl who only focuses on bad things, whose mind operates to record and press play all the nasty things anyone has ever said to her. Somewhere along this line, I forgot there were other kinds of people as well.

In my early twenties, I am struggling to grow new skin. I am unlearning all the bad habits etched into my palms. A part of this self-discovery ride is to forget people who have hurt me and recognize people who have helped me, the people who took my hands in theirs even when my hands were full of thorns, people who saw beyond my façade of anger and frustration. This blog is dedicated to those people, the ones who taught me that life will be very hard but always remember to be kind and strong.

To honor people who showed me kindness at the weakest point in my life, I wrote “gratitude letters” for them. This method seemed very personal and nostalgic for me. The first recipient of my gratitude letter is my mother. The woman who is an epitome of strength and I have never been able to discover her source of valor. In my teens, I was a brat. I would translate my frustrations into anger and chaos was my best friend.

A month before my final exams, I was on the verge of breaking down but crying was a sign of weakness, hence my worries morphed into anger and I shouted at my mother. She could have slapped me hard but she chose the hard way out, she bought me my favorite food and made me chai. She then massaged my shoulders and asked me “What is wrong?” and I told her everything, the pressure of board exams, the anxiety of my results, everything. Not only did she listen to me, but she also helped me with my work. I am forever thankful to her, for her generosity, her kindness, her love.

I cannot give my mother any gifts now but I included the poster of her favorite perfume in the letter. I hope one day I will be able to gift her an actual Chanel perfume. When I gave her the letter, her face lit up like the fourth of July and she hugged me tightly. She was the happiest person on the whole planet Earth at the moment.

I wrote my second letter to my aunt, aunty Tahira. I have no blood relation to her; she happens to be a neighbor of mine but her frequency matches mine and I have an incredible bond with her. 2018 was a very tough year for me, I had failed MCAT and I couldn’t get admission into universities of my choice and this failure broke my heart. I was surrounded by apprehension and I lost all of my friends. One day, I discussed all of this with Aunty Tahira and she took my hands in hers and said, “Abeera, Allah wants you to learn something. That is why he has put you in this situation. Be patient.” That exact moment provided me the strength I needed to overcome failure and here I am today, a 21-year-old in a good university, studying what she absolutely loves. This wouldn’t be possible without her.

Aunty Tahira loves ghazals. I wrote her favorite ghazal by Parveen Shakir in the letter as a gift and hand-delivered the letter to her with a Thank-you card. She is going through some very tough times and my letter provided her the comfort she needed. She was beyond happy at the time and couldn’t stop smiling at all. I was glad that I was able to cure some of her worries, if not all of them.

This pandemic has made me a very empathic and sensitive person all over again. I am re-evaluating all of my choices and habits. I have discovered that there have been so many people in my life who contributed to my success and growth and I have never been able to thank all of them. It’s a very different and wholesome experience for me. I couldn’t write a thank you letter to all of them, but I made a journal entry for them, to remind my fragile heart, there are still some people who would go to war for me.

At the end of the day, kindness is what marks our hearts for forever and we always remember the people who showed us care and love.

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