This is my grandmother-in-law, in all her cuteness.
This is the story of her journey to Umrah. And how she did it with two broken feet.
An invitation to the Holy Land
When she heard that Aizat and his family were planning a trip to Umrah, she wanted to be a part of it. It has been decades since her last Hajj and she was really hoping to return to the Holy Land.
Of course, everyone wanted to be supportive and get her there, but there were concerns. Because of her age and weight, she could barely walk. It was almost impossible for her to use the stairs without hurting herself.
So how is she going to get up and down the tour bus?
Her daughter, my aunt-in-law, tried to work with the agency to charter a private van or car for her. They said it wasn't possible. Everyone had to travel in the same bus.
She wasn't fazed by that one bit. She said a couple of steps shouldn't be a problem. She'll do some exercises prior to Umrah to make herself stronger. She was so excited.
Then it came.
Hospitalization after hospitalization. She was rushed to the hospital multiple times in the months leading up to Umrah. Just a month before we left for Umrah, she was admitted for Pneumonia.
The agency got concerned. They requested for a doctor's letter to be furnished before they would let her travel for Umrah.
She visited doctor after doctor. No one was willing to take the risk of endorsing her trip to Umrah.
Slowly, the familial support for her trip to Umrah dwindled. Everyone was now trying to convince her to postpone her plans for Umrah. Health was more important, we told her.
But she insisted she was fine, and she was fit to perform her Umrah.
We told her that she could go at the end of the year when she was stronger. She said no, she wanted to go now, or she might never have the chance to go again. We all knew what she meant. Everyone fell silent.
The once bubbly and jovial grandmother-in-law I knew was more subdued. She looked tired. Tired of the toll her body has taken recently, and tired of the endless challenges that she had to fight just to perform her Umrah.
We didn't know what to do. Should we support her? Or should we discourage her from performing her Umrah in the state that she was.
We eventually decided that since Allah had already invited her and open the doors to her, who were we to stop her? He is the best of planners. So we did everything we could to facilitate her trip for Umrah. If she wasn't going for Umrah, it would be on His terms, not ours.
She continued her visits to doctors. She eventually found one who was willing to provide her with the doctor's letter, two weeks shy of our flight to Jeddah. Alhamdulillah!
By His grace, she was going to the Holy Land to perform her Umrah!
But it wasn't going to be easy.
She fell multiple times during the trip, often when she had to get up or down the bus. Her feet swelled bigger and bigger every day, and it turned from brown to blue to black. It looked pretty bad.
After a particularly bad fall from her wheelchair in Mecca one day, we got really worried. She was moaning in pain. We were afraid that she had suffered a fracture. It took the 5 of us to get her back on the wheelchair.
Everyone was slumped against the corridor of the hotel room, catching our breath from what just happened.
Then, her voice: "I want to the Haram for Mahgrib later."
I stared, wide-eyed, at every single one of them in the room. There wasn't shock in all of them, just a resigned silence; they knew her all too well.
"Don't worry. I'm okay."
A spirit that is never broken
Such was her spirit. Whenever Aizat pushed her around the Kaabah for our tawaf, he would dhikr loudly for her so she could follow.
And she would dhikr louder than anyone else.
She never once complained about her feet throughout the trip. Nor did she yell, even once, at others who knocked into her feet (this happened A LOT).
There were times when I would actually frown at those who bumped carelessly into her feet. But each time I turned around to look at her, she would just look so happy, bobbing her body from side to side as she followed Aizat in his dhikr.
I don't know if she was numb to the pain, or she just blocked all of that out. But I guess when you strive for the sake of Allah, He will most definitely ease your affairs.
Walking on two broken feet
When we returned to Singapore, she refused to go to the doctor.
My aunt-in-law had to lie that she was due for her routine checkup to get her to the hospital. She was immediately warded. She had suffered from a bad fracture in each feet, and there was significant displacement in both of them. Both feet were also severely inflamed.
As we learnt about the extent of her injury, both the doctors and us were flabbergasted at how she managed to get up and down the buses, walk herself to her seat on the plane (the wheelchair couldn't fit in the aisle), and not complain once about the pain that she was feeling.
She ended up being warded for 2 months before she was discharged.
We still do not know how she managed it. Our best guess is that she was just so contented and thankful for the opportunity to fulfill her dream of performing Umrah that nothing, not even two fractured feet, could take her heart away from the love and gratitude to Allah.
She was actually very excited here.
A humbling lesson
To be honest, when I first heard that Aizat's grandma wanted to come with us for Umrah, I wasn't too keen on the idea. I was worried. Since Aizat was the only man among us, he was going to bear most of the responsibility of pushing his grandma around. I was afraid that it would be too tiring and burdensome for him. I even thought to myself, was this a test by Allah?
It was only there when I recognized it for what it truly was - an immense blessing, and a humbling lesson. Every time I was feeling tired, defeated and grumpy for the lack of sleep, she was the one who would put a smile on my face. I don't know why but she was the only one who could make me laugh during the trip. The sight of her always warmed my heart.
In the most spectacular fashion, she showed how she couldn't care less about the suffering, pain or misery that befell on her. I only saw in her an unwavering patience, an immense gratitude, and a complete trust in Allah.
We throw the words of 'Sabr', 'Shukyr', 'Tawakkal' around freely, and might I add, carelessly. But how many of us can honestly say that we embody these virtues the way she did? I, for one, cannot say so for myself.
What I witnessed in my grandma-in-law was one of the most sobering and humbling lessons in my life.
May Allah grant her paradise and elevate her rank in Jannah.