A love affair in a toy store
I fell in love with a beautiful dressing table as soon I laid my eyes on it. It was half my size and had a tiny door. The shopkeeper must have followed the sparkle in my eyes, he brought it close to me and opened the tiny door revealing the three pink and blue drawers with a real mirror attached to it. I spent some time opening and closing the drawers and the door. I wanted it badly. Very badly.
I had known that my mother did not have enough to pay for it so I pretended to not be interested (I didn’t do a good job though) and asked if we could go back home. It was my 10th birthday.
In the evening, my mother told me that I should check the cupboard and there I found an oversized wrapped present. I tore it open and became the happiest little girl who was now the owner of a beautiful dressing table.
From a very young age, I had been distrustful of adults and people in general. I grew up with that hatred and toxicity but one of the few things that would warm my heart on cold winter nights was the circumstances in which I had acquired the little dressing table. I still do not know where my mother had got the money to pay for it but all I know is that my mother had fulfilled my desire. My mother, through this present, taught me to tune into the needs of other people before they even verbalise it. I made sure I followed it through.
Hard work and perseverance
My mother was born in a struggling family and had taken up the responsibility of life at a very young age. She found love and escape in my father and got married to him.
After her marriage, she moved from her home city to another city to live with my father’s family. Her parents were not interested in her settling down because her earnings were contributing towards the household income. For this reason, her family showed no interest in her marriage, in fact, there were none.
After she married my father, she left her job and became a full-time housewife.
Her initial time with the in-laws was extremely difficult. First, my father belonged to a rich family and Mother came from a poor background and second, she was not a Muslim by birth. She was taunted for her parents’ lack of status and being a convert.
My birth gained her respect among her in-laws but unfortunately, my father had gone off the track. When my younger siblings were born, he brought a woman home in order to “help” my mother with four young children. They were caught having an affair. My mother did not question him and took an oath of silence. From there onwards, my father continued hurting her but she busied herself with us.
“If I had taken you all away, I wouldn’t have sustained without a job for long. They would have eventually taken you away from me”, Mother sadly informed me when I had questioned why she couldn’t leave my father and burnt in that hellhole. “I stopped for you and I believed Sabr (patience) does wonders”, she continued in a heavy voice. Her pain and conflict shattered my soul but I understood it. She had to make a choice – either suffer at the hands of a failing marriage or leave without us. She chose us and spent the rest of her life looking after us.
People always looked down upon her because she was a single mother but this did not deter her. She never had any support from anyone while we were growing up. My father had abandoned her a very long time ago. We, her children, became her prison but she never complained. We were eventually snatched away from her but she never wavered in her love and affection as she constantly supported us from miles apart in whatever way she could.
My decision to leave my father and venture out into the world which I barely understood had its strong roots in seeing my mother battle through life on her own. Had she not demonstrated the strength of fighting against all odds, I would never have had the courage to break free from abuse. “You had done, what I could not do”, she was proud. “My Sabr became your strength”.
She taught me to have Sabr and let the events take its own course. I am a very hot-headed person and react almost immediately without thinking but even though I have elaborate plans to seek revenge, I never act upon them. I take a step back, reverse the revenge on myself and damage myself without the knowledge of the person in question. I am yet to learn to not hurt myself and still practice Sabr just like my mother would want me to do.
Empathy and forgiveness
There had never been a time when someone in need had knocked on our door and had gone empty-handed. My mother could feel what others chose to ignore. With whatever little she had, she always believed in sharing. Through her selfless acts of giving when she herself had little, cemented a lack of desire for material things in me. I feel things that I cannot explain.
My mother never keeps a grudge in her heart for longer than 48 hours. She told me that it was the secret of her happiness.
“If someone hurts you, you must forgive them, even if it seems impossible at first, by forgiving and forgetting, you are able to sleep better at night”.
I operate on this same law. I forget things after a while and sometimes it becomes a bit awkward when after 6 months you see someone and you smile at them, having no recollection of the hurt they had caused you, and the person is a bit confused and does not smile back, and you get confused and you think hard and then you remember but it is all in the past so you let the person decide if they want to talk, if not, then you just walk away. It is absolutely beautiful and works every single time.
No matter what I had done or revealed to her she had never judged me. There have been times when I had told her that I would be doing certain things, no matter how deluded they sounded, she would always tell me that she was standing right behind me. After I had failed terribly I would go back to her and tell her that it did not work out. She would calmly listen and then say that she knew it wouldn’t but she also knew that I had to learn that on my own and that I would have never listened to her if she told me otherwise. I would agree. I know she loves me. I love her too.
I know for a fact that once I see her, once I am in her lap, once I cry my eyes out in front of her, everything becomes okay. I would not have suffered for 6 months straight had I just gone back to her for just one day. She has some healing powers!
When I grow old (if I ever do) I want to be just like her, with a backbone made of steel and a heart made of cotton. I want to have her patience, her perseverance and her ability to selflessly love and empathise. If only, I could be half the woman she is.
I love you, Mama.