It is with profound sadness, and a heavy heart, that I have learned today, our sweet Ferozan jaan passed from cancer. I will miss her emulating Noor, her warm smile, and her embrace.
Ferozan khala was like a sister to me. I don’t even know why I refer to her as “khala”, she was only a couple years older than I. Ferozan lived in the unit above my sister, and I remember watching her pass through the window, her dark hair and big brown eyes. I remember her, always looking at the ground. I remember hearing the furniture move at night from her scuffles with her husband.
Ferozan khala suffered through a tumultuous marriage and an even messier divorce. The Afghan community treated her life as a soap opera, each person waiting to hear what else was the latest gossip. But even through this chaos, us women, we truly loved her. It was as if after her divorce, all of our hearts opened with compassion, and we came to protect her name and reputation. She represented something for all of us, a symbol of strength and endurance, of feminine power and survival. I remember, at a friends engagement party, Ferozan had to sit in the same room as her ex-husbands new wife. But when she got up to dance, all of us women cheered so loudly. We all exclaimed, “Ferozan! Ferozan!”, reassuring her, comforting her, and letting everyone know whose team we were on. Ferozan was truly everyone’s daughter and sister. We loved her fiercely.
My mother took her under her wing, and vehemently defended her in the face of any gossip, to the point where she began a yelling match with her ex in-laws. My mother endured this same battle with my own sister’s messy marriage, and would not have the same happen to Ferozan. It was after this fight, that Ferozan began to refer to my mother as “Madar-Khanda”, a term used similarly as “Godmother”, or “adopted mother”. And so, Ferozan became my adopted sister.
I have always felt like the black-sheep of the community, but Ferozan never made me feel that way. Only a couple years apart, we came from completely different worlds. She had an arranged marriage, I’m single. She had two children, I’m still babied by my parents. But she made us feel the same. She included me in her conversations, she was always so happy to see me. I remember running into her at restaurants, so happy she was enjoying her life, post-divorce and through cancer. I thought she was the coolest lady on the planet.
Ferozan used the last years of her life to travel, make memories, visit her friends and family across the globe. She travelled to Mecca and Medina, making the Holy Pilgrimage us Muslims dream of making.
She spent months in Germany with her parents and siblings. She returned back to LA for a couple months, as if to say her final goodbyes. Her father asked for her to go back with him to Europe, and one week into this trip, Ferozan succumbed to her illness.
I wonder where she is now. Where is her soul, her essence? Is she watching over us now? Is she holding her sons as they cry? Is she answering to God?
Ferozan never believed she’d die. Even in her final days, she looked to me, with her hand in mine, and said, “When my hair grows back, we will go out again, me & you.”
I am telling her story because I believe she would have wanted it this way. Ferozan lived honestly and openly. She was grounded in sisterhood, in compassion, in empathy. Ferozan made connections with peoples hearts. And I don’t say all this in light of her death, I have known this since I was a little girl, looking up at the beauty queen who roamed my sisters building, who, when she looked at me, gave me butterflies. Who, when she came into a room, instantly melted my heart. She looked like home, in a place of strangers.
“Do not go gentle into that good night, old age should burn and rave at close of day.
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.”
My sweet sister. Thank you for your love. Thank you for having me in your life. Thank you for always welcoming me, for loving my mother, my sisters, and myself. I look forward to seeing you some day. I am sorry for all you endured here in this Dunya. I am deeply saddened for this loss, but I am certain, that you are somewhere beautiful, somewhere peaceful. And like an oasis in the middle of the desert, I think you are finally home.