Aniqa Hossain Memorial Fund
I write this as a living tribute to my little sister, Aniqa Hossain, who left us to be with her Allah. For 32 years she lived happily and touched the hearts of everyone she met, despite the challenges she endured all her life. I want to share my thoughts on Aniqa’s life with her friends and family, and hope these remind you of the Aniqa you knew and loved. I also write this for my daughter Hidaya, so that one day she may use it as a guide to understanding who her Fuppi was, and how much her Fuppi loved her. Lastly, to Aniqa I will say a final few words.
For those that knew her, describing Aniqa is easy. Aniqa’s smile, compassion, toughness, remarkable emotional intelligence, and unconditional love are the traits that stand out.
Since Aniqa’s passing, the word I’ve most frequently heard is ‘smile’. Her smile was long-enduring, innocent, and contagious. You couldn’t be around Aniqa without breaking into a smile or laugh yourself. She had the uncanny ability to make others laugh through silly noises, quirky mannerisms, and innumerable one-liners (many of which included curse words in Bengali). If you are reading this, chances are Aniqa had an inside joke or funny routine with you. I would love for you to share yours with me.
The next word that comes to mind is ‘tough’. She was tougher than nails, surviving and thriving after each of her major open-heart surgeries throughout her life. It’s not just the surgeries, but also the conditions of her life that led to these surgeries, that she endured gracefully.
She was also quirky. On clothes she hated loose strings, paper tags, and crooked shirt sleeves (which she pronounced “Cook-Ed”). She hated when words contained two letter O’s consecutively (i.e. “good” or “food”), and marked them out with sharpies. She didn’t like when people wore contacts instead of glasses, and we’d have to justify our wearing of them. These things annoyed us at the time, but now are bittersweet memories to laugh and cry through.
Aniqa was always a happy person. But what made her happy?
Aniqa loved talking to people. It was her favorite thing to do. Leaving any dinner party took roughly 30 minutes and it drove her family crazy. She never missed an opportunity for small talk, whether it was with a cashier, receptionist, janitor, Imam, or her favorite neighbor Abby.
Her empathy drove her to ask lots of questions. These questions ranged from “what does your name tag say?” to “do you have a husband/wife/kids/pets?” She spoke to everybody, and her uncorrupted heart was equally interested in all people, no matter their race, creed, status, or how that person was conventionally viewed. No matter how bad a person’s day was, talking to Aniqa made them feel better.
The pleasures of this life for Aniqa were simple.
She loved eating outside. Specifically, she loved McDonald’s, and knew how much I hated when she ate it. Ammu always instructed her not to tell me if they fed her McD’s, but she told me every time to elicit my reaction. She loved getting donuts and chocolate milk with her Abbu, and true to form, that was her last activity outside of the home before being hospitalized.
She loved music. She would blast 90’s Bollywood, or old classics like Kishore Kumar, at a deafening volume, no matter how much we yelled at her to lower it.
She loved animals. There was never a dog or cat that she didn’t want to pet. While she didn’t own a pet herself, she considered our cat Arya as her own. And Arya, skittish as he is, was always comfortable around her.
She loved playing Uno with her Abbu (who she later renamed to Baba), and played it every single day of her life up until the day before she passed.
More than anything, she loved people. If you’re reading this, she loved you and had a way to make you feel special that was unique to just you and her.
To Abbu and Ammu: she loved you more than anything else in this world. You two were her everything, her true North. Every single act of service, every dua you made for her, every ounce of bursting love and worry you had for her, she knew til her dying breath. Her love for you surpassed anything else in this world, and you can rest easy knowing that you did absolutely everything humanly possible to make her safe, happy, and comfortable all her life.
To my wife: Aniqa absolutely loved and adored her Bhabi, and you were as much a sister to her, as she was to you. She asked about you in every single phone call we had together, even if she just got off the phone with you. She looked up to you, and she knew the comfort, friendliness, and ease you would give her. There is a reason why she stuck to you like a shadow, where she would either play with your hair or just have her arm around you.
To our extended family: she had such meaningful relationships with every one of you. If she knew I was writing this, she would have made me write a book listing every single person she loved. However, there are a handful who I must address to do right by her.
Tasnia, know that anytime something happened to you, even if it was just a cold, Aniqa would call me worried. Ferdous Nana, her face would light up anytime you called. Fuppi and Chacha, I knew your travel plans before your travel agent did because of Aniqa.
To the Memphis community: Aniqa grew up in the masjid and at dawats, and your love filled her with joy. There are simply too many uncles and aunties to thank for being there for Aniqa and my parents especially in her final weeks of life, but you know who you are, and what you have done for them is unmatched. I am forever indebted to you.
To Sara: On Aniqa’s phone I found a few Tiktoks you made with her shortly after her Bujan (grandmother and best friend) passed away seven months ago. You tried to cheer my sister up in her darkest days, and made her feel included in something that she knew other kids did, but couldn’t do herself. For that, you will always have a special place in our hearts.
To Aniqa’s school community: The memories you all have shared with her are something she cherished and always talked about. She loved going through her yearbooks and showing us her best friends and teachers.
To those I mentioned, and to so many more that I missed, Aniqa loved you and probably made it abundantly clear by telling you repeatedly. She treated each of you as her best friend, because you were.
To my daughter Hidaya: by the time you read and understand this letter, it will have been many years since your Fuppi passed. The moment we got back into the house after burying Aniqa, it hit me that you two won’t have anymore memories together, and you will never get to truly feel how much she loved you. I hope everything you’ve read so far will help illustrate what kind of person your Fuppi was and how she touched the hearts of everyone around her.
But now I want to tell you how Aniqa felt about you. Your Fuppi was excited to meet you from the moment we told her that you were coming, and asked me a thousand questions about you before you were even born. When you visited Fuppi, her favorite thing to do was to kiss the bottoms of your tiny feet over and over. She loved buying you gifts since you were born. In an earlier hospitalization, the hospital had a book fair and Aniqa didn’t get herself anything, but instead bought trinkets like a coloring book, sippy cup, and other little toys for you. By late spring, her condition worsened to the point where she could barely walk; the only outdoor activity she was upbeat enough to do was visit Target with your Dada, where he would navigate her in a wheelchair while she picked out toys for you.
I want to share one more story with you. Your Fuppi mainly spoke in Bengali, and in many situations did not feel confident enough to speak up in English on her own. However, in the final week of her life, nurses would ask her simple questions about family and friends to make her feel comfortable. It was when one of these nurses walked in that she felt comfortable enough in English to excitedly say “I have a niece!” before the nurse asked her anything.
I mention this story to emphasize the point that along with your grandparents and your parents, there is no one else your Fuppi loved in the world more than you. I pray that your memory of her lives on through our stories, pictures, and any little belongings of hers that we pass onto you. I pray that through her stories we can pass her good qualities onto all of us.
Finally, to Aniqa: I would say you left us too soon, but that would be an affront to God’s plan, and a complete dismissal of the pain you were in for so long. You were dealt major surgeries, regular doctor visits, and grimmer news at each visit, but you never complained.
Seven months ago you lost your Bujan. She was your grandmother, roommate, and best friend. After every death in our lives, you would ask me questions about what happens when people die, where they go, etc. But not this one. This time you stayed silent. You couldn’t talk through your pain, and you never truly recovered from losing her.
Through all of your hardships, you never uttered one complaint. In fact whenever doctors asked how you were doing, you replied with “Good!” and smiled through the pain.
You had hopes and dreams like the rest of us, but those dreams weren’t possible in this life. You dreamed of having a driver’s license, and that one day I would buy you a red pickup truck. You dreamed of getting married and having kids. You dreamed of having a job, one where you wore scrubs like your Bhabi and helped people. Despite the difficulty of this life and the impossibility of these dreams, Allah gave you an incredible ability to love and enjoy life.
In your final days, you held your Ammu’s and Baba’s hands day and night. You called out for your Ammu when you were scared, and played Uno with your Baba until your last day. One of the last things you did before you died was order me a Father’s Day gift.
I cry because I long for one more chance to yell at you about the volume, one more silly question from you, one more conversation, and one more signature “Okay, I love you, Salam-alaykum” before ending every phone call.
However, I also smile and rejoice at your outcome. Your passing has brought your family an immeasurable conviction in Allah, the Afterlife, and complete certainty of your place in Heaven. I rejoice because our Islamic tradition tells us that, due to the conditions of your life and the way in which you passed, you went directly to Jannatul Firdaus (the highest levels of Heaven) without any Hisaab (accountability) that the rest of us will face. It also tells us that, if we stay patient and faithful, you will pull us into Jannah with you.
I don’t know what form you have taken in Jannah. Perhaps you are one of the children playing in the Garden of Abraham, or maybe you are the adult that you dreamed of being in this life. If it’s the former, I hope you are laughing and playing to your heart’s delight. If it’s the latter, I hope you are flashing your newly minted driver’s license, speeding in your new red pickup truck, having endless donuts and chocolate milk, and listening to Kuch Kuch Hota Hai on full blast.
You lit up our lives with love, compassion, empathy, and gratitude, and I pray that your passing magnifies, not diminishes, these traits in all of us. Anyone who knew you can’t move on from you, but we will move forward with you in our hearts.
Your Baba, Ammu, Bhaiyya, Bhabi, and Hidaya love and miss you, and we will meet you on the other side one day inshaAllah.
Aniqa Hossain passed away at the age of 32 on June 21, 2022. Her Islamic rites of ghusl were performed by her Ammu, Bhabi, and favorite aunties, after which she was laid to rest in her grave by her Baba, Bhaiyya, and cousin Saif at the Dar-ar-Rahmah cemetery in Arlington, TN. Even though her best friend and grandmother Bujan died over seven months ago, in a completely unplanned sequence of events, the two best friends are now buried directly behind each other, separated only by six inches.