by Maniza Naqvi

(This is the Majlis I prepared and read last week for my mother, Narjis Khatoon Rizvi-Naqvi, who died on January 17, 2011).

In this past one year I have sat in this living room in our apartment for long periods of time. In the evenings, this room with the candles lit next to my mother’s photograph and all the lamps ablaze—glows—the windows darkened by the night—this room is radiant with a warmth and grace. I like to sit here and read here and in this past year I’ve read the Koran for Ami and also read a lot more of Tolstoy, Greene, Zizek and Nabokov and I’ve watched a few movies.

The opening sentence of the movie, The Apartment, starring Jack Lemon and Shirley Maclean which was made in 1960 goes like this: “If you laid all these people end to end, figuring an average height of five feet six and a half inches, they would reach from Times Square to the outskirts of Karachi, Pakistan. On November 1st, 1959, the population of New York City was 8,042,783.” (watch here)

Isn’t that the same number now? I thought to myself. Doesn’t this city grow? Where do the new people go? I think Ami would have said, “They go Home.”

The day we buried Ami, Ali, said to the mourners at her funeral, that Ami came to here to New York, reluctantly, following her children, then became an immigrant only for her children: He said: Today I am about to consecrate this land with my mother. Today I understand what motherland means.”

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