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Loving Always

"She was so graceful. She would put a smile on your face," Salma's husband Hussain said. From left to right: Haniya Ali, Fizzah Ali, Khadija Ali, Salma Merchant

Tehsin Ali

"She was so graceful. She would put a smile on your face," Salma's husband Hussain said. From left to right: Haniya Ali, Fizzah Ali, Khadija Ali, Salma Merchant

Tehsin Ali

Tehsin Ali

"She was so graceful. She would put a smile on your face," Salma's husband Hussain said. From left to right: Haniya Ali, Fizzah Ali, Khadija Ali, Salma Merchant

Fizzah Ali, Reporter

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He misses Salma’s smile.

Misses the way she laughed every time she held her granddaughter in her arms.

He remembers the day he was introduced to her first granddaughter. Her face lit up as if there was no care in the world. The way their granddaughter smiled back at her and she burst into tears. The joy she had in her eyes and she looked up at her husband with a huge smile across her face.

“She’s my light. My whole world,” he says.

That year, his whole world was shattered.

Salma was diagnosed with stomach cancer in late 2016. Her health became worse day by day. She had trouble walking, talking, and eating. Her body was shriveled up like a raisin, completely different from the lively happy woman she used to be. Her veins, distinctly showing through her hands. Her legs were as thin as sticks. And her eyes. Her eyes dropped down her face.

Her daughter, Seher”,” helped her out every day after work. She took her to the bathroom, fed her, and took her to the hospital when she fell severely ill. Through the fake smile, she was tearing apart watching her mother suffer.

“We had an arranged marriage. But when I set my eyes on her, I knew it was destiny,” her husband says.

Salma and Hussain met in Alexandria, Egypt through both of their parents. From sneaking out late at night to meet each other, to walks in the park on sunny days. Hussain knew it was destiny that brought them together.

They were together for 35 years. Until they weren’t.

On December 9, 2017, Salma died.

He felt as if his heart had shattered into pieces. He felt as if some shattered piece of his heart had gone missing.

She was rushed to the hospital.

The day she died, Hussain sat in the hospital waiting room all day. He sat beside her bed. He didn’t eat. He didn’t move a muscle. He watched her as she lay in bed, cold and still as a rock.

“I love you.” He told her every day. He didn’t know when would be the last time to tell her this. He hoped that one day”,” she would’ve had the strength to tell him she loves him back.

“She smelled like sunflowers. She sent me notes telling me how much she loved me. I still have one,” her daughter said one week after she died.

“I keep her picture in my wallet. She was so graceful. Even if you were upset she would put a smile on your face. She’s my best friend, she always will be.” Hussain says.

He keeps a picture of her in his wallet, which goes with him everywhere. Never letting it go.

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