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  • My mother was nine when she lost her younger sister Nergus to illness.

    Within a handful of days, my aunt-who-never-was slipped away from her family.

    Whilst my grandparents were lost in grief, a sparrow would visit each morning, perching itself on a window sill. Mum fantasised the sparrow was Nergus, reincarnated, letting her family know she was now free.

    My mother's heart broke forever, the morning the sparrow failed to return.

    Without sisters, daughters or a daughter-in-law, there has always been a palpable absence throughout her life. Some part of her hopes and dreams escaped on tiny wings that day.

    Reincarnation isn't part of Islamic belief, but we do believe that the souls of animals will be gathered alongside us on the last day.

    I hope the avian messenger, who carried small and vital hopes, will sing to my mother on that last day, revealing where she can again find sisterhood.
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