Leena Amani Sheikh

In 1999 my wife was expecting our first child, and I had a name ready and waiting: ‘Leena’. It means ‘tender’ and also ‘devoted one’. Of course fate likes to have a bit of a laugh with you, and with the arrival of the new millennium came a surprise. Out popped a boy, not a girl. I didn’t have a boy name ready. So my sister named him Junaid.

Don’t get me wrong, having a son is great and he’s growing up to be a fine young man – even though he’s going through the stroppy teenager phase at the moment – but I really wanted an adorable little daughter. Five years later God rewarded my patience with the arrival of the gorgeous Leena.

That was exactly eight years ago today, and as we celebrate her birthday this day, I have to give thanks because she is everything I could have hoped for: lovely and charming, funny and fun-loving, full of energy and excitement.

And innocent and sweet – yeah, I know that won’t last forever – but as every parent realises, you’ve got to make the most of the moments you live in as much as you can, because these ‘bundles of joy’ grow up fast – God, do they grow up fast!

There are so many clichés to bring into play right here, but they are mostly true. Just seeing her lights up my day, watching her swells me up with pride, and when she looks at me, hugs me and kisses me with untainted, unconditional, unflinching devotion, there is no better feeling in the world.

Being a parent is the toughest job on the planet, and I’ve often pondered how we humans are even allowed to spawn sprogs without so much as a user manual when we’re not even allowed to drive a car without a licence.

It can be the biggest drain on your patience, your energy, your ego, your time and definitely your finances and certainly your emotions, but you can get the biggest kick out of it too, one that easily and in an instant outweighs all the negatives – just one look from Leena will do that for me.

She ran into our bedroom this morning for her birthday card and gift, and her unrestrained exuberant joy somehow erased all the exhaustion, anxiety, troubles, worries, concerns, fears and dilemmas in my life for that instant – and all I could do was grin back at her stupidly.

That’s enough soppiness for now! So happy birthday to my little princess, happy birthday Leena, may all your days be full of joy and happiness!

One thought on “Happy birthday little Leena-pie!

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