Thursday, 25 February 2016

Grandmas and Grandpas

Both my Grandmas, Sikina and Zera

My Paternal Grandfather
He was born in 1918 in Karachi, Sindh (Pakistan) and 
died on April 29, 1969 in Nairobi, Kenya

My Paternal Grandmother
She was born on March 21,1921 in Zanzibar, Tanzania and 
died on January 30, 1980 in Nairobi, Kenya

My Maa, Zera - I'm 4 here.

My grandparents were married in 1936 in Mombasa, Kenya.

I didn't really know my dad's father. He was an alcoholic and everything I've ever heard about him hasn't been very nice. He died on my sisters' 1st birthday. 

My dad's mother however, was the most amazing woman. We called her Maa. She was so very kind and generous. She used to have these lunches called 'nyanis' at her house and invite 100 kids from school. We'd see a convoy of kids walking from school and realize when we got there, that they were all coming to our grandma's house! She lived very close to the Aga Khan Primary School we went to in Nairobi and so all through those years we went to her house for lunch. She was an amazing cook and we were so fortunate to have hot, delicious lunches every day with her Indian lunchtime radio station on in the back. My favourite dishes she made that I still lick my lips when I think of are mogo (a cassava curry), ndizi (a green banana curry) and bheja (brains!! delicious. Nobody has ever made them the same again - not that I'd eat them either!). She was a woman of faith and her faith is what got her through all the tough times she went through and there were many of those. The times we spent at Old Highridge Flats and Number 16 Hirani Flats in Nairobi were such happy times! That's when all the Asanis lived in Nairobi and we'd get together as a family. Those were the times we'd all go over to her house after mosque on Fridays, have dinner and watch Dallas! 

She died of cancer in 1980 and I remember my dad coming back from the hospital at 6 am to tell us. We were devastated because we had no idea what cancer was and that she had been so sick. Her funeral was on the same day she died. She was an angel and we were so fortunate to have had her for our grandmother for the years we did.

Impeccable records from the Ismaili Cemetry in Nairobi

My Grandma, Zera's grave in Nairobi (somewhere some date is wrong)

My Maternal Grandfather
He was born in August 1912 in Nairobi, Kenya and 
died on April 12, 1981 in Arusha, Tanzania.

My Maternal Grandmother
She was born on September 20, 1912 in India and 
died on June 5, 2006 in Toronto, Canada

 Sikina blessing us at our wedding x
I think my grandparents were married in India.

As grandfathers go, our Bapa was the best, big and kind and able to wrap his arms around the entire family. He was the oldest of his nine siblings and took that responsibility very seriously. Their family owned lots of businesses in and around Arusha, but the one I most associate my grandparents with is their bead shop where they catered to the local Maasai. It later became a general merchandise shop. We would go to Arusha on our school holidays and loved working with him in the shop!  My most vivid memories of my grandfather are;
  • Him walking around in his vest with his arms behind his back
  • Laying in bed at 6 am and listening to Radio India on some scratchy, unclear station.
  • Telling us the story of the mouse with the seven tails over and over again
  • The tons of stuff they brought back for us from their trip to Canada
  • The Tanzanian road trip he took us on just before he died
My grandparents were "Kamadias" (leaders in the khane) in Arusha
My grandfather died so suddenly on April 12,1981, with no prior warning and left us all in shock. All us cousins have our personal memories of him because he was such a giant figure in our lives! 
What we think is my grandfather's grave in Arusha

My grandmother was the best, the bravest and the coolest grandma! She lived to be 93 and we would have loved to have her for longer but are grateful that we got to spend lots of time with her in Africa and Canada! I call her brave because her mum died when she was two, her sister committed suicide, she got married and moved to a new continent where she had absolutely no family and then when her husband died, we thought she would fall apart because my grandfather was her everything, but she didn't, she lived for 25 years after that and moved to Canada in that time. When my sisters and I moved to Canada in 1989, my grandmother moved in with us. She was cool because she was so fun to live with, she cared for us, but never nagged and she had tattoos long before they were in (dots on her hands and face - inked at home as kids!). She also like my dad's mum was a woman of faith. She went to khane (mosque) morning (for meditation) and evening. She was my inspiration for going to khane in the morning. She and I would walk the empty streets of Arusha at 4 am in the morning to get to khane. I will cherish that memory along with all the others I have from my 40 years with Sikina forever!

My grandma died when Kahzmir was exactly 12 weeks old and I am eternally grateful that he got to meet her!

Dear grandparents, I am so grateful to all of you, for what you went through and what you did for us. There is a bit of all of you in all your grandchildren and we will pass that on to our children and them to their children. We love you and miss you! 
Till we meet again, Love from all your Grandkids. 

Nahid, Minaz, Faiza, Farah, Salina, Navida, Adyl, Shaeen, Alia, Ejaaz and A'teef.

Kanji Mohameds
Karim, Nazil, Rifat, Muni, Altaf, Aleem, Parvez, Aafeez, Zaida, Minaz#2, Mohamed, Rehema, Sophia, Karim, Zahra, Minaz#1, Faiza and Farah.

Thank you for sharing Day 6 of 50 with us!


  1. Minaz - love it. How blessed you were to have known your grandparents and spend precious time with them!!

    1. Yes, no doubt about that Karima. Every moment spent with them was precious! You must also have some great memories of your grandparents.

  2. Minaz this is absolutely lovely! You were so blessed to have spent time with your grandparents.I never met any of my grandparents. Tears in my eyes!

    1. It's interesting Rashida because your generation married earlier than ours, but your grandparents had shorter life spans and died earlier that's probably why you and my mum either didn't get to spend time with their grandparents or were very young when they died. Now, we have children later, but life spans are much longer, my grandmother died at 93 and maji is 94, so Kahzmir gets to know and spend time with his great grandmothers and three of his grandparents! Precious!

  3. Love this! Brought back memories of going to Khane with my folks on Fridays, coming home to watch Dallas with my mum, and my dad making us some tea and cutting up pieces of fruit.

    1. I guess the story of ruthless oil barons doesn't know any boundaries! And the special thing is that it created special family time!

  4. My nanabapa used to walk with his hands behind his back too. Love!

    1. That is so amazing. I'm going to tell Kahzmir that both his great grandparents did that and try and get him to do it!