She embraces me like she’s receiving me for the first time every time I come home. Says ‘Ah! It wasn’t nice without you!!You went away for sooo long!’ Hugs me tight and lets me in. When actually, I had only been out for a few hours…I thought it wouldn’t matter, as I’ve been out of country for four years now. But no, I was wrong. Every time she receives you, is like the first time she ever had you back.
She wakes up and tells me she’s feeling tired and lazy today. My immediate reaction: “Yaaay! Let’s order food! And sleep a bit more!! :D’ But no, that’s exactly when she battles herself, and takes all the clothes from the laundry and drops them off for cleaning, cleans her room, and goes to the kitchen, prepares our breakfast, and lunch for daddy, says ‘don’t tell dad what am doing, let’s surprise him with his favourite lunch’, leaving me standing there in awe, wondering, what did she mean when she said she was tired?
I tell her I have a headache, and she leaves all that she does to apply a cologne, massage my head until I fall asleep, no matter how numb her hand feels, how swollen her feet gets, she feels my pain more than her own. She asks me so humbly ‘could you massage my arms for a while?’ I’d finish all my work and sit by her for it, only to hear ‘alright dear, enough. You’ll get tired’
Every time she looks at me, she smiles. Like really. She gives me her attention, even if I’m terrible at keeping away my phone. I tell her ‘I love yu ma’ a hundred times whenever I feel like no matter where she is or what she’s doing, so I asked her once ‘Doesn’t it annoy you?’ ‘Never’ she replies, ‘it means so much to me’.
She displays her innocence, so admirably. ‘Knowledge is in asking what you don’t know’ she says. Slowly slowly as she learns to type, replies in English on facebook or whatsapp, learns her spellings, she looks at me with so much excitement when she receives a reply from my sisters or their children. What she once taught me, now I teach her. But she doesn’t mind. She pushes me to pray. Every new lesson she reads in Tamil, she explains to me. Every night, while I pull an allnighter, she tirelessly and patiently says, ‘goodnight! Sleep early Sameera. The night is for rest. Don’t tire yourself and just work during the day’ .There is NEVER a ‘How many times should I tell you to sleep early?!!’
Every day, father calls her after the afternoon prayer, even if they have nothing to talk about. It’s a simple ‘I miss you dear’ gesture disguised in their tete-a-tete. She’d stop what she’s doing, even if it meant to switch off the stove half way through cooking, and give him his time. ‘What’s up’ (enne saythi) he asks. ‘Good news always’ (ella nalla saythi) she says. Every single day. More than thirty years in marriage and it’s still like a new bond every day.
She’d always leave the best piece of bread, chicken or apples or anything, for me, and take the one less sweeter. I finished making my tea, and when it smelled good, she said ‘pour me some too’, instead of a ‘sure ma!’ I said ‘why couldn’t you say yes when I asked you if you wanted!!? I didn’t make enough now’ … ‘ Okay okay noooo problem at all sweety, enjoy your tea. I didn’t want it really. Just suddenly thought I’d taste a bit’ I knew I hurt her, but felt so ashamed to even say sorry. I couldn’t sip my tea. How she hides her feelings, like as if we can’t take her pain. Actually, in reality, we can’t. If this was just one reaction that she hid, how many times would we have done this to her?
I lay by her side, cuddled her huge tummy. I saw pictures of her beautiful youth. Once she said ‘this happened after I gave birth to you and the last one’ (she gave birth to five girls by the way). It never became smaller after the last one, she said- her tummy. I didn’t understand, but she said ‘it was worth it’
If I try to do something new to make it all up for her, I fail. I know I fail.
My mother. Our mother.
Sa’id ibn Abi Burda said, “I heard my father say that Ibn ‘Umar saw a Yamani man going around the House while carrying his mother on his back, saying, ‘I am your humble camel. If her mount is frightened, I am not frightened.’ Then he asked, ‘Ibn ‘Umar? Do you think that I have repaid her?’ He replied, ‘No, not even for a single groan.’
PS- she is very beautiful by the way, mashaAllah.