Wajeehah Aayeshah shares a story from a child’s perspective which encapsulates the innocence and magical charm one can experience only in childhood.
Aga had lived with us for as long as I can remember. He was a free spirit, came when he wanted to and left when he felt like it. He was not answerable to anyone. His room was never touched. Even Shameem baji, the maid1 responsible for cleaning and washing, was told to leave it be. Not that she wanted to go inside that mysterious place.
The door to Aga’s room was always locked, unless I wanted to go in. I was always welcome in his sacred place. It was a custom that began when I was a toddler, I am told. One day I just crawled in. After a while, my absence was noted from the lounge. All the rooms were searched but I was to be found nowhere. Dadi2 was about to check in Aga’s room when she saw me crawling out. She grabbed me and hugged me tight, looking darkly at the closed door, reciting Mauzutain3 and Ayat-ul-kursi4. I’m told that I would find my way to his room, no matter how strictly I was kept under check. After a while they stopped worrying about me. Aga did not mind my presence.
Aga was my favourite companion. I grew up telling him everything about my life; fights at school; winning house cups; in-class rivalries; stories I was reading; boys I had a crush on. Aga would just listen and smile. He hardly spoke. I learnt to communicate with him by reading his facial expressions. He would help me with my studies. He made me memorize surahs5 from the Quran. A feat that made my grandmother happy and relieved at the same time. Happy because her granddaughter was learning the sacred words so quickly. Relieved because they would protect me from the hellfire. She even went outside Aga’s door and thanked him. He did not reply. He did not open his door.