Growing up in the shadow of Fazl Mosque, I was incredibly blessed to experience so many incredible moments, the memories of which have lingered in my mind as I’ve grown up. Being so close to the jama’at and Khilafat, both physically and through the values and beliefs instilled in me as a child by my parents, is something I am incredibly grateful for now that I am old enough to realise how much of a blessing this was and continues to be.
One significant period of my life are the years in which I was fortunate enough to take part in the weekly Childrens’ classes with Hadhrat Khalifatul Masih IV (ra). No matter how many classes I had attended, I would always feel the same excitement ahead of each one, looking forward to the speeches, nazms, stories from Huzoor and a chance to meet my friends, building relationships which to this day have stood the test of time.
Yet the excitement always dipped a little when my nerves got the better of me in classes where I would have to make a speech. As someone who has never relished the chance to speak in front of a crowd, the thought of going up in front of the entire class, countless people around the world via the live cameras and, most of all, Huzoor, filled me with nerves. I recall being approached to do exactly this one year when our class organiser found out that I would be attending Jalsa Salana Germany.
Throughout the Jalsa I was keenly taking notes, like a roving reporter on the hunt for an exclusive. I listed the things I heard, the people I met, the exhibitions I saw. For someone who was used to the Jalsas that took place in Islamabad on a smaller scale, the sight of this venue, the people and the endless stalls and marquees was incredibly fascinating. My first Jalsa abroad in an unfamiliar place, yet with the familiarity and comfort of my family and of course the Khalifa. The very same Khalifa who would soon be listening to me report back on my experience. I picked up my pen and continued on my way and before long, I had found my angle.
I stood up in front of the class, nervous, yet keen to get started. The microphone crackled as it came to life, the sound of my friends breathing silently all around. And then I began. I spoke about the journey there (uneventful), the nazms (exhilarating) and the speeches. And then I turned course and moved onto the bazaar. The bazaar which, as the child I was, I had been so amazed by. A place where all the food you could want was available in one large field. Falooda (interesting), kebabs (incredible), pakoras (delicious) and sweets that I’d never seen before.
I looked up midway through the speech and saw that familiar smile, the encouragement I needed to keep going.
And so it went on, there were giggles and laughter as the list continued (who knew there was so much food in the world?) until I had listed everything I could remember.
Following the class we always said our prayers in congregation, behind Huzoor. It was a chance to let the lessons we had learnt sink in, for us to show gratitude for all we had gained.
As I stepped outside following prayers, I saw my mother standing there with a large bouquet of flowers. My first thought was genuine surprise that she had got me such a beautiful gift, for no reason at all. Yet I was about to find out it was far more than that.
“Your daughter delivered a really good speech” are the words that still fill me with happiness. For those were the words Huzoor had said to my mother just moments earlier, before Bashir Sb handed over this bouquet for me, from my beloved Khalifa. It was beautiful and the words even more so. For a shy, introverted child, the kindness shown by Huzoor was incredibly significant, enough that this memory has lived with me since.
As for the flowers? I dried them once they had run their course, to be kept forever as a memory of the wonderful moments I experienced in my childhood, a blessing I pray for for the next generation.