Munira Premji

There are two types of people in this world – one who can wear hats, and the other who can’t.  Unfortunately, my Mum fits into the latter.  For years, we have tried to find a hat that likes her –from baseball caps at Jays games, to visors on beach vacations, to Santa hats at Christmas parties, to beanies, to berets, to bowlers. If it’s been invented, we’ve tried it – and trust me, we’ve tried them all.  On Monday, while sitting in the chemotherapy daycare unit of Princess Margaret Hospital, a hat found its way to Mum.  Not just any hat – the hat.  A bright pink and white, hand-made toque that was a perfect fit atop her head.  Like Cinderella’s glass slipper.  Mum had found a hat that agreed with her, and the hat had found a new home.

But this particular hat was more than just a hat; it was an act of kindness.  It was made by a past cancer survivor who wanted to ‘pay forward’ the generosity given to her during her experience with cancer.  It is unfortunate that too often we pay our pockets, without paying it forward.  In today’s society, kindness has taken a backseat to unsubstantiated greed; generosity has been demoted to something we can do, rather than something we should do; and the giving of time to a worthy cause is a calculated act that must be booked in our calendars weeks in advance.  Never have I been more attuned to our values as a society and how they seem to stray year after year from our core human instincts.  And then a hat comes our way – and flowers, phone calls, emails and chocolates – from both strangers and friends alike, demonstrating the power of a simple act of kindness in driving my Mum towards a place of positivity and promise.  A place where she feels she has an army of support behind her to get her through this journey.  A place where she feels she has something worth fighting for – and more and more, that reason seems to be to give back and ‘pay forward’ all the support that she has received during this time.

The hat has been a reminder of the fragility of life – the idea that we can be at the peak of our careers one day, and the next, be bed-ridden in the Intensive Care Unit.  It is a reminder that life is too short, moments are too precious to be living a life we do not particularly want to live.  Engaging in habits we don’t want to be involved in.  Doing things we are not absolutely passionate about.  But most of all, the hat has been a symbol of hope – a silent gift from a complete stranger telling us that everything will be okay.  If the hat-maker could survive cancer, my Mum can too.  And when going through an experience like this, you hang onto every ounce of hope you can get.  Every stable hemoglobin level, every normal temperature, every bit of energy is something to be hopeful about.

The hat will become an essential accessory item when my Mum begins to lose her hair in the coming weeks.  But the little fellow has played an even greater role already  – to remind us to live each day in gratitude, to be kind to others, to embrace the fragility of life and to remain hopeful.  A magical hat, indeed.

– Sabrina


  • Anonymous , March 21, 2012

    Thanks for the opportunity to be part of this journey with you, truly honoured and humbled by you, your family, your strength, your beauty, your smile, your laughter.
    In all this we all have a chance to glimpse at God. This is the richness of life and you are generous enough to allow everyone in it. You have a big heart that can hold all this love and give so much back.

    And boy you do look good in that hat, i have to echo everyone’s comments….only u can carry that off with such grace.

    Love, hugs and kisses,

    Shehnaaz (and Karim) Dhanani.

    • Premji Family , March 22, 2012

      i am learning that we can see god in everything if we take the time to see….

  • Anonymous , March 19, 2012

    Dear Munira
    Been there- done that, and have played the hats game too!
    I wore and sewed up a few hats for those at the chemo center with me and laughed and looked in the mirror and teased each other about our “Pretty and Fancy hats.” Thirteen years later, I am a survivor of breast cancer. You too will survive!

    Our prayers are with you. If you believe that we are all part of a universal soul, then our “well being” is yours too. Whatever anyone wishes in thoughts and prayers comes to you as well.
    Today, specifically, my thoughts and prayers are only for you and your recovery.
    Just know that your body will heal if you allow it to through your own love, will and faith.

    Think of this as an obstacle in the road that makes you pause and think about the value of your life and once you overcome it, the obstacle minimizes and turns into a memory.
    Keep up your hopes. Hang on to your dreams. Believe!. Inshallah! You too will move on and continue to support others.

    Lots of hugs and prayers to the Premji family,
    Razia P.

    • Premji Family , March 19, 2012

      Thank you for your encouraging message and for playing the hat game! i am thrilled you made it through your journey, and this gives me hope that I will too. I have to admit that I will look forward to when this is a distant memmory……. Munira

      • Dilshad , March 19, 2012

        By the way, you look fantastic in that hat. The colours are truly you….pink representing life, pure love, a childish innocence (that’s cause you don’t have a mean bone in your body) and white representing purity, simplicity, humility and goodness (everything you are made of).
        I don’t know what your family is talking about but I think you would look good in ANY hat!!!

        My special love to you all,

  • Dilshad Nathoo , March 16, 2012

    “Hats off to you” Munira Mukhiani. We love you.

    Arif, Dilshad, Nareesa and Tahara

  • Dilshad Nathoo , March 16, 2012

    To the Premji’s,
    This hat, a symbol of hope and promise, warmth and comfort, peace and humility, fearless and strong, fragile yet strong will rest upon your mom’s beautiful and intelligent head and hopefully will be a constant reminder of all the love and support and prayers that are surrounding her always.

    With our special love,
    The Nathoo’s

    • Premji Family , March 19, 2012

      Dearest Dilshad – – Love the metaphor of the hat as a symbol of hope and promise. This hat and I – – we are still exploring and discovering each other. Sort of like the sorting hat in Harry Potter! Munira

  • Alia , March 16, 2012

    Lucky hat to rest upon a head filled with inspirational ideas of how to make the world a more beautiful and just place. I’m sure all of the other hats are jealous!

    The magical hat is one of many symbols of hope. The hats maker, with every stitch, imbued within it tremendous love and courage. I couldn’t think of a more appropriate crown for your mum.

    Again, you write beautifully.


    • Premji Family , March 19, 2012

      Dearest Alia – – – I think Dr. Seuss could make a movie about hats and crowns and stitch and fit! Thank you for staying up all night with us in the intensive care unit. I am so grateful for your love and know that you are going to be a brilliant doctor……Munira

  • Isabelle , March 16, 2012

    Again, very well written.. 🙂 It make us want to see the hat! I am sure she will look stunning!

    • Premji Family , March 19, 2012

      just posted a picture of the hat isa! munira

      • Mehboob Shariff , March 19, 2012

        It’s Not The Hat….. It’s You That Makes The Hat Hot.

  • Alisha Bhanji , March 15, 2012

    and she will rock that hat 🙂

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