Naazish YarKhan has written for over 50 media outlets including Chicago Tribune, PRI, NPR, On Being, LeanIn.org. A small-business owner, she consults as a marketing communications strategist for non-profits and small businesses. She is also a college essay coach and founder of Writers Studio ( www.writersstudio.us) where her students have won national and international writing competitions, served as student reporters and been published. She holds a MSC degree in Communications from Northwestern University, IL, and a Bachelor’s degree in English Literature from Bombay University, India.
The recipient of the Council of Islamic Organizations of Greater Chicago (CIOGC) Excellence in Community Service Award and the Muslim Women’s Association ( MWA) Inspiring Woman Award, Naazish is the mother of two, and loves movies and good food!
Three months ago, my daughter left home for college. That first month I spent forcing myself to reclaim the woman I was before she came into my life. It was a month of dogged determination to pepper my days with little actions, checking off a to-do list of meaningful tasks to help me to begin walking in another “pair of shoes”. It was the only way to keep my heart from breaking, bleeding… until the next trigger. Such are the perils of parenting.
On the eve of her first day of classes, I had written her the email below. She chose not to read it. It would hurt too much, she said.
“Tomorrow, God willing, will be your first day of college,” I wrote to her. “Remember to take pictures and post them all day! The first full day you were at Urbana, five days ago, your voice rang in my ears – whether it was you asking me to come and sit and watch TV, or saying you liked the scent of me in my hijabs ( as I looked for one to send to you). Your comments about songs, your scolding’s and admonitions that I not be a distracted driver, your reactions to documentaries, they hummed in my ear all day, reminding me again and again just how far away you are. You are my happy place. As always, your laugh continues to light up my days. And I am glad baba and I are there for you whenever confusion and frowns mar a moment of your day.
If you did nothing more from now on, you’ve still given me the best 18 years of my life. This summer, having you around, no job, no summer school, was the best gift I could have gotten. Having your kind, gentle, thoughtful, funny company, was a gift that has become more precious with each passing day.
I love you and those three words hold my heart, soul and very breath in it. Your hundreds and hundreds of little touches – from the quotes you sent me, to asking your brother to watch Dory with me, to the restaurants we tried out together to your miffed moods, I could not have asked for a better 18 years and, inshallah (God willing), may the next century grow our love and our appreciation for each other.
You and your brother are the loves of my life. The heartbeat to my days. May Allah always protect you and guide you. May Allah give you every happiness always. May He keep your imaan strong, your smile ready and your generosity brimming. My sweet, sweet, sweet girl. Thank you for being you. I love you, as Buzz Light Year would say, ‘to Infinity and Beyond’.
Your ever loving mama and baba.”
This is the story of mother’s heart seeking a way to mend. This finding Taskeen at every corner, even as I have to let go of her, has been a wobbly journey to say the least. This distance – it has brought us even closer, knit us tighter together. In the absence of Taskeen, and despite having my son who is still at home, I now know college will be as much about me finding my feet, as it will be about Taskeen finding hers.