(Exclusive to Pakistan News & Features Services)
Ammi and mumun (my grandmother Zakira Chatha) were pillars of our home, Dastan Serai. Ammi held the physical and exoteric encumbrances with my father and mumun the spiritual and esoteric loads of the Serai.
The relationship between the two was over 70 years old with so many things in common that it would be next to impossible to recount them all in one go. One thing that became beneficial to me in my school and college life was their love for mathematics.
Mumun had Bachelor of Teaching (BT) degree and Ammi had completed her bachelors with double math from Kinnaird College, Lahore.
In my early school years mumun taught arithmetic, and Ammi taught me (and my brothers) mathematics, geometry, calculus and trigonometry all the way for from secondary school to college years. I must confess here that I faced a great deal of difficulty with all these subjects.
I could not understand that in my school and college years. Dastan Serai was a colossal complex, with abundant incoming traffic of people; which translated into flooding of their pressing problems, their lost or about-to-be lost hopes, their achievements and their desires to be acknowledged for what they had done.
Every cataclysm of this complex, each day was decomposed by Ammi (and mumun in the background) to its granular form and solved with steps simplified as in algebraic equations; were knowns and unknowns are separated for clarity and goal-directed solutions.
Some problems were solved immediately using analogies from previous solutions, others were divided into parts were each part was solved over time, and still others were solved with possible solutions with many solution options much like quadratic equations and left for people to decide which way to proceed.
I could not learn mathematics the way Ammi desired but I started to like the subject and these days I do stop to look at a YouTube video that solves a simple and easy algebraic equation for old memories’ sake.
I completely understand and agree with her admirers that she was a great thinker, a creative genius and a seasoned writer, but she is just Ammi to me, I miss her, I miss her whiff, her presence and her quizzical expressions that would warn me not to embark on paths that would go nowhere. I really do miss her a lot. May Allah grant her the highest Heaven where she is close to His love. Ameen.