Monday, December 22, 2008

Graduation In Pictures

What a whirlwind weekend! My parents came in late Thursday, and the festivities began Friday. I was happily surprised to look up in the crowd and see my uncle and his family from Greenville, SC. The procession and beginning of the ceremony was very emotional for me. I really missed my Abbu - the man who instilled such a deep respect for education in all of us.

Below are more pictures from the day:

With Bert, right before he gave me my first pair of diamond earrings! I couldn't have done this degree without my husband. He was so supportive, helpful and encouraging. Now we have two "Masters" in the house. ;)

With my parents and sister! I would not be where I am today without the love and support of my parents. Can't thank them enough.

Shaking UGA President Michael Adams' hand

With Sara after the wonderful to see her!

L-R: Kamran, Haris, Lyla, me, Aunt Saba and Uncle Shahab (my mom's brother)

Standing under the arches! It is tradition at the University of Georgia that only graduates can walk under the arches. After dinner, we went for me to have the felt great!
posted by Anisa @ 10:04 AM | 14 comments

Thursday, December 18, 2008


So, tomorrow is graduation. After three years, I will finally graduate with a Master in Public Administration degree from the University of Georgia. I am excited, as this is the culmination of a lot of hard work and many nights and weekends. It will be nice to "just" work again! I am looking forward to reading for pleasure again, and am already considering pottery classes, knitting and more.

My parents are on their way right now, and my sister will be here in the morning. I am looking so forward to seeing them.

It's bittersweet, as the original plan was also for my aunt and her family to come, as well as my grandparents. Education was of utmost importance to my grandfather, and I knew something special was happening when they were planning a 6 hour trip because of me! But alas, it was not meant to be. My grandmother is in mourning, and my aunt is staying behind to be with her. What was supposed to be a party of 13 is now one of 5.

I started really aching for Abbu again this afternoon, and the tears are once again starting to fall. I pray that God grants me the favor of having my grandfather there tomorrow. I just have to believe that he will be watching.


posted by Anisa @ 4:38 PM | 6 comments

Monday, December 15, 2008

Tears, Laughter and the Ugliest Capris in the World

I just wanted to say thank you to all of you for your concern, comments, texts, emails, phone calls, cards and prayers. It means so very much to me.

I had a co-worker and very close friend make a donation to Habitat for Humanity on behalf of my grandfather. When I got the card letting me know that on Saturday, I burst into tears. I also started crying while on the elliptical Sunday; ah, such is my life right now.

I started listening to music yesterday since I worked out. It was kind of weird. Bert and I shopped all day Saturday for Eid/Christmas/birthdays. I felt guilty when I was enjoying myself. And let's just say I REALLY enjoyed myself at Nine West. But, Bert convinced me that it was OK that I was having a good time, and I also remembered that Marissa said it was too. Big hug to her.

I actually had a good laugh at Kohl's Saturday night because some of the clothes were so ugly. My apologies if you or your loved ones own either of these items:

This photo does not do the heinous-ness of the shirt justice. I mean, there were also white rhinestones on the collar. Click to see the true detail. It was gross.

These crazy-ugly capris were on the clearance rack. I included the price tag, because these pants were a mere $3.60. The were 90% off. No wonder.

So anyway, I'm a bit all over the place right now. But that's OK.
posted by Anisa @ 9:49 AM | 4 comments

Friday, December 12, 2008

Shout it from the Rooftops

Last night, as it has been lately, I became very sad when it was time to go to sleep. But over me, I felt a peace. I felt very, very strongly that my grandfather is at peace and that he is not alone. As I had these thoughts, I felt his presence. And I felt these strange sensations up and down my legs - like super chill bumps. It was like confirmation that he really is OK. That I did not just invent these thoughts.

I started thinking about how grateful I am that so many dear to me are still alive - my grandmother, my aunt, my sister...and then it hit me like a ton of bricks. I had never truly thought about the fact that my parents and Bert won't be around forever. When that thought entered my mind, I felt like I was going to throw up. For as horrible as the pain I feel right now is, there is worse to come (God willing I live a long life).

I have been telling Bert over and over how much I love him. And at 2:30am, I wanted to pick up the phone and call my parents. I wanted to make sure they knew that I think they are the best parents in the world. That from them, I have experienced unconditional love and such support. That I can't even begin to tell them what they mean to me. I wanted to rush into their bedroom and jump on their bed and scream, "I LOVE YOU!"

I used to say that I would not be the kind of person that talked to my mom every day. And I'm not. Many days I talk to her twice. :) And my dad...he is more like me than anyone else on this Earth. I love talking to him too. I love spending time with them. I could go on and on about what they have taught me and what they mean to me.

And then it hit me again; I mean REALLY hit me. Five siblings lost their Daddy. One woman lost her husband.

Oh God.

"I miss you and I love you, Abbu," I said into the night. He heard me.

My grief is nowhere near over. I still cry for him. There will always be a huge hole that Abbu left behind in this world. I will miss him everyday.

But as I lay in bed, the last words I said before I fell asleep were, "Thank you, God." For it is God that gave Abbu peace, God that gave me such a wonderful family and God that has willed it for me to still have my amazing parents, Bert and many others still alive today.

And so, I am shouting my love from the rooftops today.


posted by Anisa @ 10:54 AM | 2 comments

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

One Week

It has been one week since I have lived on this Earth without my grandfather. It is still shocking. At 1:30 this morning, I was in a panic - it is just now beginning to sink in that I can't pick up the phone and talk to him. I can't hug him. Oh, it hurts.

When I close my eyes, I do not see him when he was sick. I see him wearing a white button-up shirt, dress pants and walking around the house. I see him answering the phone, with a serious "Hello" and then completely changing his tone when it was one of his children. "Ah, Neghina!" "Ah, Chorta!" Those were the nicknames he had for his oldest and his youngest. Whenever any of his five children would call, his face would light up. And oh, how he loved my mother. How he loved us all.

He was truly a light in this world.

The first memories of my life are with him and my grandmother. I would spend every weekend with them until I was 6 years old, when they went to Belgium for a sabbatical. I remember waking in my crib beside their bed and peering out over them, while they slept. I remember sitting in the floor of their living room, looking at a book upside down. I was the first grandbaby, and loved every moment of fuss made over me.

One of my most treasured memories is when he would take me in his office and thump the brass plates that hung on the wall. I delighted in the sound that it made. I just felt so loved, so adored. And I loved and adored him right back.

I thank God he was at my wedding. He spoke at the Nikah (Muslim ceremony - I had two wedding ceremonies). I remember him choking up. He was happy. I was happy. I will treasure his presence there my entire life.

At my grandparent's 50th wedding anniversary party in July, I gave a speech. I told both of them what they meant to me. I told them how much I had learned from them. How much I loved them. I said that while life isn't a fairy tale, the time I spent with them was so magical that it might as well have been one.

From him, I learned moderation. He was such a kind, gentle soul. I never heard him raise his voice. I never heard him talk ill of anyone. He had a beautiful heart. When I knelt at his grave, I told him that I would strive to be more like him and then I asked God to give him the reward for his example.

He loved education. God, family, humanity and education - those were his priorities. He knew that education was the key to a better life and he instilled that in all of us. He was supposed to be at my graduation next Friday. I was so happy. And now, well there will be a huge hole. I think there will always be a huge hole.

I remember talking to him on the phone. A few months back, I was waiting on my friend to meet me to get our monthly manicure/pedicures. For 20 minutes, I stayed on the phone with Abbu - talking religion and politics. I learned so much from him. How I treasure every second I spent talking with him.

The rabbi in my hometown emailed my mom. His next sermon is inspired by my grandfather. I read it; it made me so proud. He is talking about how he lost a friend - a Muslim friend - and that he knows what true Muslims are really like. He encourages his congregation to remember that; that they are living examples of Judaism. The fact that my Muslim grandfather inspired a Jewish rabbi - need I say more?

I am so proud to be the granddaughter of Dr. Zahir U. A. Warsi.


posted by Anisa @ 11:10 AM | 2 comments

Monday, December 08, 2008


After hugging everyone, I went to his desk and sat in his chair. I gently put my hand on top of his papers. On his desk were stacks of scientific work, religious print-outs, photographs and a personalized thank-you note from Rosalynn and Jimmy Carter.

That's my Abbu.

I was in shock for a long time. We got to my grandmother's house and Bert had to hold me up to walk in the door. I saw everyone and I went numb. We do not embalm, so I knew the funeral would be the next day. I sat down and began work on his obituary (previous post). I wanted to make sure that everyone knew how amazing he was. If you didn't know him, I wanted you to read it and wish that you did.

I went with Mama to the masjid. There was a plain pine box in the center of the room, up on a stand of some sort. It was closed. The room was freezing. The windows were opened. The men in my family had prepared his body. Muslims do not embalm, as we take "ashes to ashes, dust to dust" literally. He was treated as if he were alive, and they used warm perfumed water. Ammi said he loved the smell of perfume.

My mom opened the coffin. I ran out of the room. I crouched outside of the bathroom and sobbed. The pain was immense. After a few minutes, I felt him say to me, "Nisee Baby Doogie, Please don't cry." In Urdu, doogie represents the number 2, the smallest number in a deck of cards. I was his first grandbaby. The smallest. We believe the soul lingers with the body until burial. I know it was him, truly speaking to me. Then Mama came and I started again. She told me that I would upset Abbu's soul with my sobbing, so I stopped. I would never want to hurt him.

I sat down by my grandmother and did the kulma. It is similar to the rosary - you say prayers 100 times, while keeping count with the beads. Allah Akbar. God is great. Subhan Allah. Glory to God. And so on. In Dewa, where he was born, they finished 20 Qur'ans for him and a million kulmas. We prayed. Fasts were done. And tears, well they were certainly shed. My grandmother and his children spent the night at the masjid, praying. I stayed up most of the night working on a program for the next day. I woke Bert up at 4:40am, as I laid down. It was time for him and my father to get ready to go to the masjid for fajr prayer. I slept. For a few hours, the pain was gone.

I still go back and forth between shock and heart-wrenching pain. My mind only allows me to believe it for a few minutes at a time. It is truly a horror. He was truly my second father. The first memories of my life involve him. I just saw him last week. What I would give to talk to him once more.

The visitation. The fellowship hall was full. "He was a lot smarter than the rest of us," said one of his colleagues. It was true.

The funeral. It is a blur. I prayed. I told him I loved him.

The burial. I stood with the women. He knew where he would be buried. It was on a hill. It was a peaceful place. I told my mom that I wanted to be buried there too. She said she had 5 plots. I must be there when my time comes. Strange how my extreme fear of death subsided. For when my day comes, Abbu will be there. May God allow me to live a long, healthy life. But at the end, I will not be alone.

His parents thought he hung the moon. I pray to God that his parents and sisters greeted him. He was adored. Upon the news of his birth, Dewa erupted in celebration. He was loved, all over the world.

He was a true genius, the only one I have ever known. As my mom said, he had a beautiful mind. The most beautiful.


posted by Anisa @ 12:33 PM | 4 comments

Thursday, December 04, 2008

My Grandfather (Abbu) - A Gentleman and a Scholar

Dr. Z. U. A. Warsi, 74, professor emeritus at Mississippi State University, died in Starkville on Wednesday, December 3, 2008.

Zahir Uddin Ahmad Warsi was born on October 23, 1934 in Dewa, India to Sharf Uddin Ahmad and Anwarun Nissa. He was preceded in death by his parents and his sisters Shahira, Ishrath and Khurshid.

Although there was no school in his small hometown, education was extremely important to his family. Therefore, he was tutored at home until he entered 3rd grade in Etawah, where he lived with his aunt and uncle. Boarding schools and intermediate school would follow. His thirst for knowledge would last his entire life, as he was known for waking in the middle of the night with innovative ideas for scientific research.

Dr. Warsi attended the University of Lucknow, where he received a BS in Physics, Mathematics, Mathematical Statistics and English, a MS in Mathematics and a PhD in Mathematics. Upon graduation in 1963, he took a position with the Uttar Pradesh state government at the Irrigation Research Institute. After that, he took a position with the Indian federal government as head of the aerodynamics laboratory at the Central Building Research Institute in Roorkee, India.

Two highly acclaimed journal articles based on his doctoral research produced faculty invitations from universities in the United States. He came to America in 1967 to join the faculty of the MSU Department of Aerospace Engineering where he became an internationally renowned scientist in the field of fluid dynamics, the study of fluids in motion.

During his stellar career, he received numerous awards, including the Medallion Certificate of the Southeastern Section of the American Society of Engineering Education, NASA Certificate of Recognition, three Hearin-Hess Distinguished Professor awards from MSU, Outstanding Research Paper Award of the MSU College of Engineering, Outstanding Research Awards from the MSU College of Engineering and the College of Engineering Career Achievement Award.

He was also a member of several professional organizations, including Sigma Gamma Tau, Sigma Xi and the American Academy of Mechanics. He served as an associate fellow with the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics and was a life member of Ganita.

Dr. Warsi had numerous publications, with 5 books and book chapters, over 40 peer-reviewed journal articles and 12 technical reports. In 1992, he published Fluid Dynamics: Theoretical and Computational Approaches, which was the recipient of much critical and scholarly acclaim. The widely-used textbook is currently in its third edition.

He taught extensively at the university level, with 12 courses and the advisement of 21 graduate students. An avid researcher, his interests included boundary layer theory, non-Newtonian fluid dynamics, application of numerical methods to fluid dynamics and continuum dynamics. Although Dr. Warsi retired from MSU in 2002, he continued his scholarly activities, with his last journal article published in June 2008.

Besides academia, Dr. Warsi was passionate about religion and politics – only because the two affected what was dear to his heart: humanity. Always humble, he was a quiet philanthropist and a strong supporter of many causes – all to aid in removing human suffering and tyranny. He was gentle, yet strong; tolerant and devout; a beloved husband and father.

He is survived by his wife, Amina Fatima Warsi, to whom he was married for 50 years as of July 3, 2008. He is also survived by daughter, Fatima Warsi Shmulsky and husband, Rubin of Starkville; daughter Rani Warsi Sullivan and husband, Thomas of Starkville; son Saif Uddin Warsi and wife, Naheed of Huntsville, Alabama; son Shahab Ahmad Warsi and wife, Saba of Greenville, South Carolina and son Javed Ahmad Warsi and wife Deena of Kalamazoo, Michigan. He had 14 grandchildren.

A service was held Thursday, December 4 at Masjid Al-Huda on Herbert St. followed by burial at Memorial Gardens. Welch Funeral Home was in charge of arrangements.

He was known to all as a gentleman and a scholar, and he will continue to live in the hearts and minds of the many people he touched.


posted by Anisa @ 9:05 PM | 12 comments

Monday, December 01, 2008


Dinner with great friends. Check.
Three-hour lunch with fabulous girlfriends. Check.
Painting pottery with my super cousins. Check.
Much-needed family time with my grandparents, parents and aunt. Check.

It was a wonderful week. I am ready for it to be Christmas break now. :)

And in other news, I just printed 31 pages - my last paper ever for my master's program. Tomorrow, I shall go to my last class and turn it in.

Life is good.
posted by Anisa @ 12:50 PM | 5 comments