Split the Moon

Rabia Chaudry

Month: May 2015

Happy Birthday Adnan

Adnan with little brother Yusuf, back before an entire team of adults railroaded him into a life sentence

Adnan with little brother Yusuf, back before an entire team of adults railroaded him into a life sentence

Today is Adnan’s birthday. Today he turns 34.*

I wrote before about how, in the early years of his incarceration, my mother dreamt that Adnan would be released from prison in his 30’s, specifically after the age of 35. My husband says my mother told him it would be at 35.

Fifteen years ago that was a hard pill to swallow, the idea that he would stay in prison for so long, lose his 20’s entirely, half his 30’s, it stuck like a lump in my chest. Even now, as I type, the lump moves to my throat.  You want to be happy for someone on their birthday, but with Adnan a birthday is another year lost for him and his family. I want to be happy, but I can’t. I just feel angry.

35 is around the corner though – and things are looking bright.  My mother knows whats up.

Happy birthday little brother. Next year, God willing, you’ll celebrate with your loved ones.

IN THE INTEREST OF JUSTICE

Adnan’s post-conviction effort -to get a new trial based on ineffective assistance of counsel, to get Asia’s testimony heard – began five years ago. A lot of folks don’t realize that. Justin Brown, who is still lead counsel, filed for post-conviction relief in 2010.

It was denied just over a year ago, in January 2014, and we immediately applied for leave to appeal the denial. The State moved to request the Court to deny our application. We responded and three days later, this past February, the MD Court of Special Appeals (COSA) granted the application, something that happens in less than 2% of cases in Maryland. Oral arguments were scheduled for June 9th, and then, just four days ago, a most astonishing thing happened.

While a grassroots team of volunteers was preparing to organize the many supporters who wanted to be present at the hearing, and Justin was getting his response to the State’s brief (which I shall shortly gag er comment upon) ready, poof, it all went away.

COSA issued an order essentially remanding the case back down to the Circuit Court in order to include Asia’s new affidavit into the official record.  There are no two ways about this – this is the relief we were asking of COSA.  And it was granted without even getting to oral arguments. It’s like they just thought, “ah who are we kidding, don’t need a hearing to figure this out.”

Does this ever happen? No, in the name of all that is good and holy, it doesn’t. Justin, when he told me the news, said that with this case, it doesn’t seem like there are any rules.

Thanks to Serial, because without Serial, Asia would’ve been forever lost to us. If she hadn’t heard the podcast, and heard Urick lie on the stand about their interaction, no one would have been the wiser. And thanks to the work of Susan and Colin, who keep busting the State’s case open further and further, stripping away all the lies and misrepresentations.

I’m not saying the COSA judges are listening to Undisclosed. But I’m saying, prove to me they’re not 😉

BAD FICTION

I had a bit of a meltdown when I read the State’s brief that was filed with COSA last week. Not because there was anything new or damaging, it was the same old losing arguments we’ve seen before. My melodramatic reaction mirrored the harlequin-cheap-crime-novel feel of their brief  – and my rage was at the outright lies/misrepresentations.

In fact, let’s start with the lies (of course its pretty much all a lie technically since Adnan had nothing to do with Hae’s death, but let’s just pretend the State is working in good faith and actually believes he did – that still leaves us with the stuff even they know is bullshit):

  • “The week of the murder…Lee’s affection for Syed visibly flickered”: No, a lie. Adnan and Hae had broken up in December, at least a month earlier, and by New Years they were both seeing someone else. The very first person Adnan called when he got his new cell was his new girl, Nisha.
  • “Syed lent Wilds his vehicle and his new cell phone”: Lie. Jay testified on the stand that Adnan had left his phone in the car glove compartment, not actually lent or given it to Jay. Just fucking left it in the car. Of course the cops FORCED Jay to lie that Adnan planned giving it to him in advance (Episode 3, Undisclosed), and the State used that to get a maximum sentence for premeditated murder against Adnan.
From Jay's Intercept Interview in December. What's that Jay? You don't know if it was premeditated? WASN'T THAT THE WHOLE FUCKING POINT OF HIM GIVING YOU THE CAR? Oh my bad, that's what the cops made you say.

From Jay’s Intercept Interview in December. What’s that Jay? Are you saying it wasn’t planned?  WASN’T THAT THE WHOLE FUCKING POINT OF HIM GIVING YOU THE CAR? Oh my bad, that’s what the cops made you say.

More from the State's star witness, back in December.

More from the State’s star witness, back in December.

  • “Syed’s possessive behavior toward Lee”: Lie, unless you think taking a coffee cake to a friends house is possessive. Every single mutual friend repeatedly told the police that Adnan was only ever gentle and kind with Hae and her diary, which the State has, confirms it. There isn’t a shred of evidence of intimidation, anger, violence, or any behavior suggesting the relationship was abusive in any way, and the State knows it.

    Becky, a mutual friend, recalls their relationship

    Becky, a mutual friend, recalls their relationship

Trial testimony

Debbie’s trial testimony

From Becky's notes when asked to recall Adnan

From Becky’s notes when asked to recall Adnan

  • “Syed’s peculiar conduct after the murder”: Lie. Unless by peculiar conduct the State means Adnan was acting totally normally, which is what every witness they asked told them. God, the lies.
A statement given by Stephanie to the PI

A statement given by Stephanie to the PI

  • “Lee felt compelled to keep her growing interest in Cliendinst a secret from Syed”: Lie. Unless by “keep a secret” the State means introduce them to each other, which is what Don testified to.
  • “feigning that he had no memory at all of the day his ex-girlfriend vanished”: Lie.  Adnan told the detectives the same damn thing he’s been saying for 16 years. After giving the car to Jay, he was at school, did not leave the campus, went to track, and next saw Jay after track.
  • “Nisha Tanna, a friend of Syed’s, claimed she remembered receiving a call from Syed”: Lie. Nisha specifically recalled talking to Jay only ever ONCE and that was when he was at the porn shop – which he didn’t start working at until a couple of weeks after Hae disappeared. Even Serial told us how Urick manipulated Nisha on trial to cut that fact out, and Gutierrez never made the point.
  • “Kristi Vincent also observed Syed and Wilds together the evening of the murder”: Lie. Ok maybe an inaccuracy, it could be the State still believes the “facts” produced by the shoddy investigation, but in Episode 1 of Undisclosed we proved that Kristi’s recollection was not from Jan 13th. It was from Jan 22nd.
  • “both men were acting ‘real shady,’ and she noticed that Syed seemed to be hiding his face”: Lie. Putting aside the fact that none of this happened on the 13th, what’s hilarious is the State cites to TWO PAGES of the Kristi’s testimony to make this declaration. In other words, they’re making it up. All Kristi ever said was Adnan was stoned out of his mind, slumped over. And the shady part?  In reference to Jay, not Adnan. What the State forgets is that other folks also have these two pages.
These are the pages the State cites to. Even I'm embarrassed for them.

These are the pages the State cites to. Even I’m embarrassed for them.

Good try Urick.

Good try Urick.

  • “they went to an area a distance off the road and started digging Lee’s grave…(W)ilds estimated it was around 7 p.m”: Lie. For fucks sake, did you not read Jay’s Intercept interview? Yeah you actually did but now have to stick to the record, but guess what, you know the burial couldn’t have happened then (Undisclosed Episode 5 will explain why, dear readers)…which is why Jay changed his story in the Intercept. I’m on to you on this one, but I’ll get to that in a bit.
Jay's Intercept interview. Midnight you say dear chap? Well so much for the "Leakin Park pings". Unfuckingbelievable.

Jay’s Intercept interview. Midnight you say dear chap? Well so much for the “Leakin Park pings”. Unfuckingbelievable.

More on Jay's recollection of getting picked up at his nana's house around midnight. Of course, there is no record of any call to Jay's house from Adnan's phone that night. In fact there are no calls made at all after

More on Jay’s recollection of getting picked up at his nana’s house around midnight. Of course, there is no record of any call to Jay’s house from Adnan’s phone that night. In fact there was only one single call made to Jay that day, the one in the morning before Adnan gave him the car, and there are no calls made at all after 10:30pm.  So why did Jay change his story? I think I know. Keep reading.

  • “the expert actually visited locations where a call was supposedly made and initiated a test call to determine what tower the call engaged”: Lie. The expert never stepped a foot into Leakin park. Wait for that Undisclosed episode.
  • “Syed also elected not to attend the memorial service for Lee, telling Inez Hendricks, another teacher at Woodlawn, that he skipped the service because he and Lee practiced different religions.”: Lie. God my stomach turns at the absolute evil of this fabrication.  There were two events after Hae’s death, a private funeral held at her family’s Korean church, and a school memorial. Not a single student attended the private funeral because NO ONE WAS INVITED. As for the memorial, Adnan helped to actually organize and develop it but WAS ARRESTED before it took place. “Elected not to attend”. Elected from the inside of a jail cell right.
  • “Fashioning an alibi for Syed’s whereabouts that supported Syed’s statements to police was a clear priority for Gutierrez”: It was such a priority that the ONE SINGLE WITNESS Adnan offered to her, complete with contact information, she never even attempted to contact. Stop lying, MD.
  • “Kevin Urick, one of the original prosecutors, testified that McClain called him after the post-conviction was filed to say she had written the affidavit only because of pressure from the defendant’s family and hoped that, by doing so, they would leave her alone.”: Urick lied under oath and now you’re repeating his lies State of Maryland. And you know it. Guess what, COSA knows it too. That’s why we won the remand.
From Asia's recent affidavit. The one that the Circuit Court will now, most probably, enter into the record.

From Asia’s recent affidavit. The one that the Circuit Court will now, most probably, enter into the record.

  • “the State presented overwhelming evidence of Syed’s guilt”: yeah I just have to laugh at that one, nothing further to be said

There are lies, and then there are lies of omission. Here’s the facts that the State omitted from the brief:

  • “When police executed a search warrant at Syed’s residence, they found a November 1998 letter from Lee tucked into a textbook, in which Lee sought to reassure Syed that they would both survive a breakup”. A note, written months before she disappeared, and written during a breakup after which THEY ACTUALLY GOT BACK TOGETHER.  Guess what else? The search warrant didn’t turn up another damn thing. More on that in a future Undisclosed episode.
  • “When Syed learned Lee was missing and when her body was discovered in Leakin Park, Syed never attempted to contact her”: Let’s not forget that the man who was currently dating and slept with Hae less than 24 hours before she disappeared, and who was supposed to see her on 1/13, never attempted to contact her again.
  • “Syed wrote a long letter to the court, pleading with the judge to permit him to keep Gutierrez because of the strong personal and professional bond between them”: Yeah, this happened months BEFORE HIS FIRST TRIAL, before Gutierrez had failed to give him in competent counsel. Before she neglected to contact an alibi witness and anyone realized it, before she failed to pull his email records, before she failed to subpoena phone records for Jay, Jenn, Patrick, Phil, before she failed to investigate Mark Pusteri, before she failed to retain a medical expert or cell expert, before she took money to bus the jury to the burial site and then didn’t, before she essentially dropped every ball in the case. Here is what the State is arguing: Adnan hired her and really wanted her so it means she gave him effective assistance. Like Adnan could see into the future. Like anyone can know if their lawyer will fail them at the time they hire them.  Go home, State of Maryland, you are drunk.
  • Gutierrez “provided to the State a list of 80 potential alibi witnesses on October 5, 1999”: except she didn’t interview a single one or present a single one as a witness at trial, which is why SHE WAS INEFFECTIVE and also, she never included Asia on that list, which is ALSO WHY SHE WAS INEFFECTIVE.
  • They totally mischaracterize all of Asia’s documents and written testimony, why not, she’s much LESS reliable than their star witness, but anyway I’m not getting into the details here. We all know it’s bullshit, so does COSA, which is why her testimony will now be part of the record. The State can try what it wants when Asia is on the stand, but from the one time I met/spoke to her, I remember she can and will hold her own. Urick may not hold up as well once we get him on the stand to answer for his perjury. Oh yes, he will be subpoenaed.

Now i have to talk about the drama in the brief.  I’ve never seen a legal brief written so…descriptively.

Here are some of the words and phrases they used to illustrate their “statement of facts”:

  • shallow grave
  • turbulent ten-month relationship
  • affection for Syed visibly flickered
  • kill that bitch
  • killed Lee with his bare hands
  • tried to apologize to Syed with her last breath
  • Lee’s crumpled body
  • Syed lured Lee away
  • Emboldened after speaking with jurors
  • ploy to get a ride from Lee after school
  • imploring Syed
  • ominous words
  • decomposing body
  • ensconced in a relationship (ensconced? really? snort)
  • Syed and Lee were nevertheless consumed with one another (am I reading a bodice-ripper?)
  • the course of that fateful night
  • both men seemed disturbed and disoriented by the gravity of the moment (code for “this is why Jay can’t tell a coherent, consistent story in which he either is at the burial or is not at the burial and can communicate with Adnan even though they’re in two different cars with one phone between them)

I could go on with the cheesy language, but you get the drift. I’ve written countless briefs in my years of practice. I know what a brief sounds like, what a blog sounds like, what an OpEd sounds like, what a policy paper sounds like. The statement of fact in the State’s brief reads like a lurid novella , and initially I couldn’t figure out why they wrote it like that.

Then I realized what was going on. That brief wasn’t written for COSA. It was written for the public. Because that’s where the State is getting slammed and humiliated. While I can blog and tweet and emote, the State must pack all of its emoting to briefs (and maybe to the bowels Reddit as well, because dollars to donuts their team is represented in the dark sub).

I’m guessing COSA also figured out the brief wasn’t written for them and was as unimpressed as I was, since they issued their order less than a week later. A fine and swift smack in the rear to their brief. In the immortal words of Jay the Deceiver, “aw, snap”.

THE DEAL WITH JAY, PART 85

We're getting closer to the truth. Photo credit: firstlook.org

Photo credit: firstlook.org . We’re getting closer…..

In episode 3 of Undisclosed, we dropped the bombshell that Jay had been coached by the police and showed how exactly they did it. Tapping. Not only did they have the phone records, cell tower maps, a chronology all laid for him, they had to tap to continuously remind him to correct himself, and he would -apologizing often, changing course, even totally changing the story. We heard him get bullied into accepting that he was an accessory to murder.

In this week’s Addendum we showed you that Jay had been meeting with the cops a number of times before the official record reflected it, and before they met with Jen. So they had plenty of times to work out the story, rather, the cops had plenty of time to tell Jay what the story would be.  Now, you can either believe the cops in good faith thought Adnan really had killed Hae and were just trying to get a conviction one way or the other, or that they knew this was not their guy but they didn’t care – there was a tremendous amount of pressure on them from the Korean community and local media to close this case, and they needed it done.

I want to think the cops were acting in good faith, but I can’t get around the fact that they elected not to test the DNA that was collected from the site, and other lapses in the investigation that make it clear they were afraid they’d find something proving it wasn’t Adnan.

They had nothing connecting Jay to the crime, but they made him think they did. They actually didn’t have anything connecting anyone to the crime, but they found that with enough pressure and threat of arrest, Jay would turn against Adnan to save himself.

Its not like this doesn’t happen. A significant portion of wrongful convictions happen because a witness, having gotten a deal, lies to help the prosecution secure a conviction.

So what’s the deal with Jay? Was he completely railroaded, then roped Jen in to back him up? Other than his own statements, which are near useless, is there any evidence tying him to the crime? Not really.

The State knows it doesn’t have anything – it never did but Gutierrez didn’t do her job properly. It certainly doesn’t now because Jay changed much of his story with the Intercept interview. I always wondered about that interview, it never made sense to me.

Why would Jay’s attorney Benaroya, the SAME attorney that Urick got for him in 1999, advise him to do an interview and then actually find the reporter to do it? The same reporter that then interviewed Urick?  That’s no coincidence. I can guarantee that was coordinated between Urick and Benaroya, if not others.

At this point I don’t think Jay says anything he isn’t told to say. He was told what to say back in 1999 and 2000. I think it is entirely probable he was told what to say in the Intercept interview. If Benaroya actually arranged the interview, there is every reason to believe she’d tell him what to say – I refuse to believe someone with a lawyer who is so deeply involved would say anything that lawyer did not approve.

So why would his lawyer (and by extension Urick if they coordinated) want Jay to change the timeline? Probably because they realize that 1) the cell tower records are useless and will be thrown out in any future trial so using them to corroborate anything doesn’t matter anymore but 2) there is medical evidence proving Hae could not be buried at 7pm, and that evidence, which Gutierrez didn’t catch, has now been caught (Undisclosed, episode 5).

They figure Jay got away with dozens of lies before, if they have to go to trial again, maybe he can get away with yet another change in story. Just like when Jay was forced to change his story to fit an inaccurate cell tower place on a map near Krista/Cathy’s house, he will again be forced to change his story to fit the medical evidence they know would bury the existing timeline in a new trial.

...and closer to the truth

…and closer to the truth. Photo credit: firstlook.org

They keep setting Jay up, and he keeps complying. But we’re on to it now.

 

*The case records with the MD case search engine incorrectly show Adnan’s year of birth as 1980. He was actually born in 1981, and he turns 34 today, not 35.

 

 

 

Happy Mother’s Day, Ami

A man came to the Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, and said, ‘O Messenger of God! Who among the people is the most worthy of my good companionship? The Prophet said: Your mother. The man said, ‘Then who?’ The Prophet said: Then your mother. The man further asked, ‘Then who?’ The Prophet said: Then your mother. The man asked again, ‘Then who?’ The Prophet said: Then your father. (Bukhari, Muslim)

My maternal grandfather was on his sick bed when he called his eldest to his side. My mother, at 26 already pushing Pakistani spinsterhood, obeyed. He informed her that they had accepted a marriage proposal for her. He asked if she wanted to see her future groom’s picture.

She asked him, “do I have a choice in marrying him or not?”

He said no.

She replied, “then there is no point in seeing his picture.”

In this wildly unromantic and deeply begrudging way my mother married my father, first glimpsing him from the back of the car, being whisked off to his home after their wedding. She peered through her veil, seeing nothing but a single ear.

Lahore, 1973. Ami and Abu in their wedding finery. Long before the advent of professional photographers at weddings in Pakistan, this was taken weeks later in a studio.

Lahore, 1973. Ami and Abu in their wedding finery. Long before the advent of professional photographers at weddings in Pakistan, this was taken weeks later in a studio.

My father had no idea that Ami (the word commonly used for mother in Urdu) came to the marriage unwillingly – not because of personal animosity towards him, but because of a firm bitterness towards the institute of marriage itself.

My mother, the tall girl in the center, with assorted siblings and cousins.

My mother, the tall girl in the center, with assorted siblings and cousins.

The oldest of seven children, she had witnessed her own mother, an exceedingly meek woman, suffer at the hands of her in-laws because of the consistent and prolonged absences of her husband. My maternal grandfather was a police deputy superintendent, often posted in areas far from his family. This left her, with five young sons and two daughters, alone with her sasuraal (in-laws), fending for herself.  There is no evidence that they were ever physically abusive towards her, but there existed that very special brand of insidious psychological torment that mother and sister in laws from the subcontinent have honed to perfection.

My mother's paternal aunt, one of many formidable figures who lorded over my maternal grandmother while her husband was away for months and years.

My mother’s paternal aunt, one of many formidable figures who lorded over my maternal grandmother while her husband was away for months and years.

My mother, who was often shuffled around from one relative’s home to another to both avoid being a burden to her father’s family and escape them, grew a tough skin.

She didn’t trust marriage, she didn’t want for herself what she saw her own mother, an educated woman, have to deal with. She resented her father for not being there, and she was independent and tough.

She did not need, or want, a man.

My mother with her own maternal aunt, who was a year older than her. Ami spent most of her childhood with her maternal relatives.

My mother with her own maternal aunt, who was a year older than her. Ami spent most of her childhood with her maternal relatives. She was beautiful and of course, the marriage proposals came.

She studied to become a teacher and a very young age was given the role of headmistress at a girl’s college in Lahore. She was disciplined, stern, with little patience for foolery, and had a presence that allowed her to govern teachers decades her senior.

Her career would be her way out of marriage, and over the years she turned down proposal after proposal until time ran out. Not for her, but for her father.  He was sick and wouldn’t live long, he had given her time and space to pursue her education and work, but he refused to go to his grave without seeing his first born married.

My father’s family, unlike many South Asian families, didn’t expect her to stop working after marriage. She continued in her career but then, while pregnant with me, learned that my father had been approved for a visa to the United States. After I made my appearance, my father left for the US, she kept working, but prepared to join him with me soon.

It wasn’t an easy decision for them to leave every single relative, every street they were familiar with, friends, and careers. But here I was, this brand new life, the start of their own family, a chance to become independent from her own in-laws.  My mother took it.

If my father was our rock, my mother has been the swirling eddy surrounding him, powerful and deep, sweeping us along with her passion and pain.

Ami was no joke. Respect her authority.

Ami was no joke. Respect her authority.

She is a person rarely satisfied, which has been both her strength and weakness. I’ve never seen her complacent, always pushing for more, always demanding more. My childhood is filled with memories of her intense outrage at the injustice of the world.

“Pray for Chechnya!”

“Pray for Kashmir!”

“Pray for Palestine!”

“People are dying in Ethiopia!”

“The USSR is destroying Afghanistan!”

About charity, I’ve learned mostly from her. She is always ever raising money for something, someone. Give, give, give, God will return it tenfold. Even giving a merchant his due, without the incessant haggling common to our culture, is justice. Think of his family, of the people he employs! To this day, I know when she calls me, it is just as likely that she is calling because a woman in the community needs shelter as it is she’s calling to tell me she cooked something she wants me to pick up.

My sense of social justice, politics, religion, global issues, and yes feminism, can only be attributed to her. In the seventh grade I overheard two teachers marveling at my focus on a magazine article about the drought and deaths in Ethiopia, while other kids sat and chatted. “Wait”, I thought, “why is this weird? My mom gave this to me.”

Her drive on such issues is maybe what kept her going through a marriage she didn’t want. And of course, one my father also wouldn’t want. But three children in, no one was going anywhere.

My siblings and I have spent countless hours debating about the course our parents should have taken. They should have gotten divorced decades ago, if not for their own peace of mind, for ours. No, they sacrificed their happiness to keep a unified home for their kids.  We wonder how they can stay together, seemingly unable to live with or without each other.

Somewhere in the DMV, the early 80's is strong in our style.

Somewhere in the DMV, the early 80’s is strong in our style.

Abu was not a man given to religion when they first married. But Ami, over years and years spent on a prayer rug, eventually rubbed off on him. Though even their attitudes towards God, heaven, hell, our purpose on earth, are dramatically different. Abu is soft and easy-going, and for him, God is soft and easy-going. Ami is structured, scheduled, orderly in prayer, and for her God is exacting, with rules you do not break or bend.

I fall somewhere in the middle, understanding and internalizing both of their attitudes towards faith. I hold dear to me the belief my father holds that above all else, God is compassion. Yet, I value her discipline, the ferocity with which she demands from others and demands from herself. If you need a prayer recited a quarter of a million times, she’s your woman.

I do wonder though how a woman so committed to God, who spends her entire nights whispering words of worship, is so restless. Should faith make you more or less content? It’s something I wrestle with. How much fire and how much ice?

Still, the need for purpose, in life, prayer, work, comes to me from her. “You’ll have to account for your time with God, what did you spend it on, what did you do with your life, who did you help, what will you leave behind?” This the ethos she planted like a seed in my psyche.

We all want things from our parents that we didn’t get, because no parent can give it all. None. What they can’t, if we feel loved, we overlook, we forgive, we understand. Ultimately that is where I stand with my mother. I know, fifty years ago, she hoped for a different life. She worked for it, but was thwarted because she chose to honor her father’s wishes.

It can be hard, as a child, to feel like you may not have been part of your parent’s grand plan. Even if its not at all true, it can feel like that when you sense their dissatisfaction with life. But greater than that, for me, is the realization that she could have left any time she wanted, and she did not. Her dreams were important, but never more important than us.

Ami, graduating from college. If she got an education, dammit we better.

Ami, graduating from college. If she got an education, dammit we better.

She never abandoned her children, she worked, she made sure to have home cooked meals, she scrimped and saved, she sewed our clothing, she demanded we educate ourselves and have careers, she taught us Quran, she introduced us to God, she held down the home, despite not ever having wanted to. In a time and place where personal, individual fulfillment is paramount over the needs of family and community, both her and my father taught us what commitment actually looks like.

Now that my sister and I are both mothers, we get it. We also get how hard it is to chose a unified home for your children over independence, over marital angst. We get how easy it is to walk away, and how hard it is to stay put, swallow anger and pride, and figure it out.

The Chaudry sisters. Both post-graduate working moms. Ami succeeded!

The Chaudry sisters. Both post-graduate working moms. Ami succeeded!

In the Islamic tradition, its said that God has 99 names, each of which signifies one of His attributes.  One of His most beautiful names, one that most often appears in the Quran, one that He, Himself, stresses above other attributes is Al-Rahman: the most merciful, loving, compassionate.

The root of the this name is “rahm”, the same word both in Arabic and Hebrew for “the womb”, a place of ultimate protection. It is no coincidence that motherhood is connected to the compassion and love that God himself gives to the world. It is no coincidence that most mothers then bring to their children similar compassion and love.

I sense, mostly and overwhelmingly, this compassion and love from my mother, it radiates even through her worst times, when we all feel defeated by her momentary unhappiness. At some point, she shrugs it off, picks up the phone, tells you to write down a prayer that will get you through whatever you need getting through, and keeps trucking.  She doesn’t always tell you things the easiest way to digest them, but mostly everything she says is right.

No one in the world makes me feel that my work is as important as Ami does.  No one in the world makes me feel that taking care of myself, which I’m not very good at, is as important as Ami does. While I often feel stressed at the demands of others, she has never pressured me for time, attention, help, even though no one in the world is more deserving of it than her.  In all of this, is her continued, compassionate self-sacrifice and her singular independence.

She wasn’t able to make her life everything she wanted, but I hope she is able to fulfill some of those dreams through her children. I hope she sees in any and all of our achievements, in every devoted prayer, in all the juggling acts to raise children while maintaining our careers, in every loving moment between myself and my children, are her lessons to us.

We aren’t much, but I hope that we are enough that at the end of her life, she feels like we were worth it.

Happy mother’s day Ami, you are loved.

 

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