The day Chakki died, Subaida became a mother to three more children - Ramani, Leela and Sreedharan. Thus, Abdul Asees and Subaida's house at Kalikavu near Nilambur in Kerala's Malappuram district became home to three boys and three girls.
While three boys went to Madrassa in the morning, the other three went to the temple. In the evening, when three of them sat down to read the Quran, the other three, with a tilak on their foreheads, would pray with folded hands at the same house.
They thus grew up, playing and studying together. Their names in the order of the age are Ramani, Shanavas, Leela, Jaffar, Sreedharan and Joshina. And the world came to know about this unique tale on last Tuesday, the day when Subaida passed away at the age of 64.
Sreedharan's FB post
Sreedharan put up a Facebook post for his friends on June 17. "My Umma has answered the calls of Allah..." This, however, generated curiosity among the netizens. People wanted to know if he meant Amma. Some quizzed him on whether his name was Sreedharan after spotting a photo of him with the skull cap. Offensive comments and trolls followed, and Sreedharan had to put up another post.
"I am putting this Facebook post to quell questions on who I am. I am from Kalikavu near Nilambur in Malappuram district. I am now in Oman. Some people raised doubts when I put up a post yesterday that my Umma had died. Others questioned how can a Muslim be named Sreedharan after seeing me with the skull cap. My Amma died when I was a just over a year-old. I had two elder sisters. My father was there too. The day my Amma died, Umma and Uppa took us to their home. They let us stay in their home. Gave education and brought us up just like their own children. After my sisters grew up, Umma and Uppa took care of all the wedding preparations. They took care of us not because they did not have children of their own. They also had three children. Though they became our custodians at a young age, they did not try to change our faith. Though it is often said that no one can take the place of your mother, she was our mother..."
Adakkakundu Moorkan Veetil Chakki was one of the workers at the Thenadan house. Chakki died when Sreedharan was a year-and-a-half-old. Soon after the cremation, Subaida arrived. She picked up Sreedharan and beckoned 11-year-old Ramani and 6-year-old Leela. She then took to the hapless children to her home. The address of the children also changed. Nobody knows Moorkan Veetil Sreedharan. People might ask if you meant Thenadan Veetil Sreedharan.
Framed in memory
Shanavas was the firstborn of Subaida and Abdul Asees Haji, who was also a Madrassa teacher.
Shanavas still remembers the day his mother turned up with the three children in tow. "That was the best frame I have seen in my life. I have not seen any better frames life after that," quipped Shanavas, a photographer.
Jaffar and Sreedharan are of the same age. Playing and studying together, they virtually became twins under Subaida's care. Later, Joshina was born as their kid sister. Sreedharan cannot even remember any harsh scolding made by Uppa.
The house of love
Ramani and Leela stepped out as brides from Thenadan Veetil. Uppa and Umma happily made all the efforts to find the groom and did all the preparations.
After he completed studies at the MES college in Mambad and started working, his 'family' started looking alliances for Sreedharan too. By then Sreedharan had bought five cents of land. Sreedharan began preparations to move into the house on the sly. Umma and Uppa were not initially happy to hear that he had bought land to build a house. They later agreed to his decision to stand on his own. Sreedharan and wife Thankammu then moved into their new home with the blessings of Umma and Uppa.
Sreedharan is now 46 years old. He is working at the textiles department of a supermarket in Oman. Class X student Ansyham is his son.
Umma lives on in his heart
Soon after Sreedharan left for Gulf, Umma fell ill with kidney ailment. Shanavas shut down his studio in the Gulf and came home to look after Umma. However, Subaida warned Shanavas from informing Sreedharan about this. "If he comes to know of all this, he might leave everything and come back running. That would be sad."
Sreedharan was informed only after Subaida's condition weakened. By the time his leave request got sanctioned, the tragic news from home arrived. As he did not feel strong enough to attend the funeral, Sreedharan did not go home. Holding on to the gifts he had bought for Umma, Sreedharan wept at his Muscat room. He prayed.