NAJMA, the eldest of four children – one girl and three boys – of Khwaja Muhammad Ismail and Begum Obaida Khatoon – and wife of Khwaja Rahman Quader, passed away around 9.30 p.m., California time, on 25th August 2013. May her soul rest in eternal heavenly peace in the company of those Allah Ta’ala loves most. She was 89 years, nine months and twenty four days old. She and Rahman Bhaijan celebrated their Seventieth Wedding Anniversary on 21st June 2013. at Irvine, California. Their two sons, Tanvir Quader (eldest) and Shaheer Quader (youngest) also live in Irvine about an hour’s drive from them. They, especially Najma, had not got over the loss of their son Shabbir, who died in 1991, after a long fight against cancer. He and his mother had graduated (Bachelor of Arts – B.A.) at the same time.
Najma was a very active Girl Guide along with my sister, the late Tahera Kabir, and both of them held highest positions in the Organization and did social work in the former East Pakistan, In Irvine, California, Najma, kept herself busy in doing voluntary work for the Senor Citizens until she fell and received serious injuries and was hospitalized on 15th August 2013, where she spent over a week before being shifted to a Hos pice Care Centre, which is situated very close to Shaheer’s house.
She was one of the five closest and the most dearest friend, I have had in my life to date. All of them have now passed away. Both, my wife Ayesha and me, are very closely related to her. Ayesha’s grandfather (Dada), Khwaja Badruddin, Najma’s father K. M. Ismail, and my grandmother (Nani) Asghari Begum were siblings, which makes her my aunty, though she graced this world with her presence ten days after me. She was born on 1st November 1923 and I was born on 22nd October 1923. As kids we were in the same class at St. X’avier’s Convent in Dhaka, and, in one of the school concerts, we were partners in a group of twelve boys and girls, singing “London Bridge has broken down” . As we grew up our friendship developed to such an extent that I felt closer to her than my own sister, the late Tahera Baji. During the three years (1939-41) when I was a cadet in the Training Ship Dufferin, in Bombay, I always looked forward to receiving her letters which were full of news about our age group. I remember, in one of her letters, she wrote about “RQ” (as we called Rahman Bhaian) but there was no hint that they would get married. They did tie the knot in June 1943, while I was enjoying the hospitality of the Japanese Imperial Army in the Dutch East Indies (now Indonesia).
Najma used to come over to our house “Bait-ul-Amn” every morning as she and Tahera Baji had private tuition in preparation for their Matriculation Examination. On certain days of the week they used to go over to the house of Uncle Mahmood Hasan (father of Samee-ul-Hasan and the late Riffi) for lessons in English literature. In the afternoon her brothers Anwar and Hamid (during their holidays from Aligarh Muslim University School) used to join us to play hockey, football and cricket. Her poem “Sixty Years ago” about the time spent in Bait-ul- Amn is attached, followed by a poem “In Bait-ul-Amn as teenagers in the thirties” which I wrote, and her poem “The saga of Riverview” about her home which was situated next to the second gate of Ahsan Manzil Palace. (Please see the attachment).
Both Ayesha and I are very fond of Rahman Bhaijan and hope, by Allah’s grace and mercy, he is bearing his great loss and aceepting the will of God, with faith and fortitude. Ayesha and I convey our heartfelt condolences to him, Tanwir, Shaheer and Connie, Hamid and Lucy, Saman and Pinky and all their respective families.
TO ALLAH WE BELONG AND TO HIM WILL BE OUR RETURN
Sayeed and Ayesha