Somehow, even with my mouth wide open and a probe inserted, I manage to carry on a conversation. Dr. Dentist and I start with exchanging our latest and greatest new apps for our devices. We both love gadgets and technology. Perhaps that’s why he remembers Once a Little Girl. That’s how I come to tell him about Little Girls Then and When and that’s how I get the opportunity to meet his lovely family.
Nazli is 59, she’ll be 60 this summer. Oh, I so love my 60s. She moved to the United States from Pakistan 15 years ago. She came from a family of six children, 2 boys and 4 girls; she is the fourth child. Nazli was the favorite, because she was so peaceful, never fighting; Nazli is still that way. Because she was the favorite growing up, her own children are the favorite of their grandmother.
Nazli became a widow when she was just 32 years old. She remarried after a couple of years. All of her siblings, who were here in the US, begged her to come join them and make a better life. Nazli’s second husband passed away fifteen years ago. Now she lives with her oldest son. She so much more relaxed and settled there. That sounds like a wonderful advantage of a joint family system. I may bring the idea up to my oldest son.
Almost nothing scares Nazli about raising daughters. She worried that her daughters might end up far away from her. In Pakistan they have a joint family system. That means women join their husbands’ families. In the end, her daughters were all more than 24 when they married, so Nazli was just happy they finally found a good husband.
When Nazli was a little girl, she missed her father. She was just 5 years old when he passed away. She was often sad that he wasn’t there.
Sabeen still looks like a teenager, but she’s a mother of two. She got a graphics Design degree before she married, and Nazli told me all her daughters were more than 24 when they married. The rest is a mystery. Sabeen is happily married to Dr. Dentist; she’s a stay at home mom now, but hopes some day to return to her Graphic Arts career. She and her family still maintain a joint family system. This can make for a very busy life, but so rewarding to have a close network of people who love and support each other. All but one of her siblings lives closes by.
Sabeen came from Pakistan when she was a teenager. She is one of eight children, 3 boys and 5 girls, and she has an identical twin sister. Because twins are a lot for one mother, Sabeen’sgrandmother raised her for the first six years. People ask her if she felt estranged from her family, but she never did. That’s because families stay so much closer in the Pakistan joint system. Sabeen rejoined her parents and siblings when she was six years old. Sabeem’s closeness to her grandmother surely contributes to to her Grandma’s favoring Nazli’s children.
Sabeen was just 9 years old when her father died. A few years later, her mother re-married. Her step-father did not always understand the dynamics of all Nazli’s children, but Sabeen learned to be patient in adverse situation. When she grew up she and her friends knew they had to adapt to the family standards. There was little peer pressure because everyone’s parents had the same expectations.
It sounds like a Sabeen experienced a lot of chaos in her childhood. Not so. Sabeen’s enjoyed life, with little or no cares. She wishes she could go back to those carefree days, when she could sit on her swing, pump up high, and just enjoy life.
Sabeen’s already worries about her daughters teen years when she has her own preferences and her parents’ opinions are less important.
Zainab is five years old and goes to the Maple Tree Academy Montessori School. She watched me kept a close eye on my fingers to make sure I spelled everything right. Zainab’s favorite color is golden because she loves the Disney princess, Rapunzel, and her favorite number is 5 because she is five years old. Of course she likes school: She loves playing arouside and running around with Riya her friend. Zainab has a little brother, who is not that good at playing yet; he’s just a baby. She can read books and she can speak Urdu and Spanish. Zainab loves to move.
When Zainab is a grown woman, she will be an astronaut. I have no doubt she will be anything she sets her mind to be. She’s as smart as my own grandchildren.
I had such fun meeting these three lovely ladies. I wish we could find time for tea again sometime. What a wonderful Mother’s Day treat.
- Jayalalithaa makes strong case for joint family system (thehindu.com)