Mom, you’re the number one for me. (Video will make you cry. Honest.)

PLEASE watch this! The video will make you cry and you’ll see why I’m so crazy about this song. Seriously, watch it. It’s a great song! Maher Zain! Go, buddy!

 

Hope you enjoyed the video. I am still not studying. Any tips? 😛

Mom, do you love me?

“Mommy, I think you don’t love me,” she says, knowing little that she’s tearing me apart. I kneel down and look into her eyes.

“Now why wouldn’t I love such a beautiful little girl like you?” I ask her, with a little smile.

“Because I beat up my sister when she took my hair clips,” she responds glumly.

“Oh, that. Sweetie, I… I don’t like the beating up part. Remember, gentle hands? But I love you. I love you very much. Like so much,” I gesture with my arms wide open. She does not look convinced.

I pull her close. I sit her down in my lap. I tickle her neck. She refuses to laugh. Little girls are not little. They are grown individuals and with them you really have to watch what you say. I know, I should have realized it earlier.

“Right. Now…. Sweetheart? I’m sorry. I was mean. But sometimes mommies have to be a little mean. I’d like to be friends again,” I say earnestly.

She looks at my face, as though weighing the sincerity of my apology. I hold my breath and hope things work out. Getting out of this will not be easy.

“How about the butterfly hair clips? Maybe I could get you new pink ones…” I say, throwing in a fresh, perhaps more acceptable bargain. She appears disinterested.

Suddenly, her eyes light up. “Mom? Do you love me?” she asks.

I think I’m going to cry. “Oh of course. I love you darling. I love you very much,” I say. I try to hug her but she resists. I tell her to think about what I’ve been saying and if she feels like talking to me again, I’d be happy to be friends again.

She walks away and in my mind’s eye. I see myself, a little child standing in front of Mom, asking her if she loves me. Mom tells me I ask her that way too often, but obliges with a big hug. There’s no prizes for guessing where my little one inherited her “Mom, do you love me” sequence!

In a little while I hear someone cry. I walk outside the room to find that she has scraped her knee while trying to ride her toy car, and boy, it’s hurting. I provide the necessary hug, the comfort and suddenly she’s back in my arms without resistance, demanding that I give the bad toy car a full talking to. The heartache forgotten, the tears falling from her eyes are strangely healing.

Soon her little scrape is taken care of and she’s back on her toy car. She stops for a moment, and walks back towards me. She looks into my eyes. “Mom, do you love me?”

“What do you think?” I quip.

“I think you love me SO much,” she says opening her arms out wide. I smile at her. No words necessary.

FAQ’s and a poem for Mom

Why am I not blogging anymore?

I’ve been too caught up with life. Both physically and emotionally too drained out to do more.

Is this blog dying?

No, but unfortunately it appears to be in a coma.

Have I stopped photography?

No but I’m too knackered to post the pics up here.

Why don’t I visit your blogs anymore?

Time. And I do. Honest. Just not as much as before.

Do I intend take up blogging seriously again?

Oh yes. Just don’t know when. I miss it immensely.

Do I value your likes, emails, comments, and visits?

Oh yeah!!!! Like anything. Thanks so much for all the love! It makes me smile.

Have I died?

Err, not yet. Thankfully.

So that just about wraps it up. And a little poem to Mom before I leave…

To Mom…

You left us too soon, and too suddenly,

Sometimes I wonder if you’re really still there,

You with your winning smile and lovely hair,

You with your gentle ways and unmatchable sincerity,

You with your culinary talents and all round dexterity,

You with a voice that could do away with a thousand fears,

You with a hug that could wipe away my tears,

You with your carefully thought out advice,

You with your loving chiding were eternally nice,

You with that special fragrance that was exclusively yours,

You with your chadar on casually as you did the chores,

You’re missed Mom, more than you know,

Your absence makes the fondness grow,

Your departure has left a void that can never be fulfilled,

There’s always something missing even when I’m thrilled,

And in times of pain and frustration and when nothing makes sense,

I long for your sensible words that would help me cleanse,

I search Mom, and I search but I can’t hold on to you,

A fleeting image of your sparkling smile that’s all I have of you.

If you know I’m writing this, I just want to say thank you very much,

And that I dearly miss your presence and your loving touch.

You went away too soon, I didn’t even get a chance to say goodbye,

All I have in remembrance of you is this tear from my eye.

Memories.

Note: Exhaustive post. The topic is Mom. Enough said.

So… it’s been two years since Mom left us. I’ve written a few articles about her over the years…

This when I visited the house first time after she was gone: Eight months later (My blog)

This when she passed away: Paradise at her feet (Gulf News)

This when she started keeping unwell: Her smile is sufficient (Gulf News)

This about the difficult but rewarding journey of motherhood: Mothers are like no other (Gulf News)

And finally this, which was published in Dawn Review http://archives.dawn.com/archives/69096, written before she passed away but published after she had moved on:

Dear Mom,
I don’t know how to start this; I don’t know where to start this — there is so much to say. Should I begin by telling you how much I love you, or should I ask how you are? Or should I simply say thank you for everything you did? Somehow, it all seems so perfunctory, so inadequate.I remember your hands as they patted my face, I remember the scent of your loving embrace, I remember the tinkle of gold bangles on your wrist, and I remember your lustrous black hair as it hung low on your back. Did I ever tell you I wanted to be just like you? I want to cry in relief when your hands caress my hair even now as you lie on your bed, so fragile, so childlike, so incredibly, heart-wrenchingly beautiful.Mom, I remember how you dressed me up when I was little, and I remember how you glowed with pride when people said I looked nice. I remember how you slaved away in the kitchen producing one culinary masterpiece after another. Did I ever appreciate your efforts enough? Mom, you’re a winner all the way. I never quite understood your expertise until I had to cook myself.Mom, I remember the look on your face when you held my daughter in your arms for the first time — that smile of pure delight that played on your lips, and your insistence on giving the baby a bath. Mom, why didn’t I hug you just then?

Mom, I remember telling you about a few of my problems. You told me to grow up, and that they weren’t big issues. You probably don’t know this, but I heard you crying your heart out on the prayer-mat later that night. You then asked me repeatedly if the issues had sorted out, nonchalantly though. They did, Mom, because you prayed for me.Mom, I remember the time you didn’t allow me to go to a party and I didn’t speak to you for two whole days. Later, you took me out and we made up. But why didn’t I tell you that my friends told me the party had been a disaster, because it had been raining that day, and no one was able to reach on time? Your maternal instincts were right, yet again.Mom, I remember how you saw through my fake headaches and tummy aches when I wanted to skip school. But you played along and never told anyone. Then one day, your voice deadpan, you only said, “Stop lying, that is enough.” And I did.Mom, I am back here, living my life as though it were a blur. Each day passes with relentless monotony and I worry about you incessantly. They tell me you are not keeping good health. Why am I not there Mom? One fine day, I suddenly zipped out of your life when you needed me so much. Why did I waste the moments when you were well, and I was with you? Why did I demand so much from you?

Mom, just a few months days back, I remember how I sat by your bed and you were so cold that your beautiful hands were like blocks of ice. I took the sweater off my back and made you wear it. You didn’t take it off the entire day. You loved the old sweater because I had given it to you, although your wardrobe had many better, newer woollies. Mom, why didn’t I give you more gifts? You said the tasteless soup I had made for you was nice, and you had it not once, but twice. Why wasn’t I able to make you eat more often?

Mom, why is it that life makes the best people suffer? Does God hear me when I pray for you to get well? You told me He always listens, and that we must submit to the will of God. Is this the will of God, or is it just the fact that we didn’t take enough care of you? My heart is full of questions. Do you remember how inquisitive I was as a child? I once asked you if God could touch the ceiling, and if He was taller than Dad. I still remember your response, “He is everywhere, even in your heart.”

The lingering, bittersweet memories of you fill my days and nights. Mom, I wish I could hold your hands again, and hug you, and I wish you had the strength to hug me back. I love you Mom, I always have. And I’m sorry I just didn’t say it enough, with words or actions. There’s no one in the world like you.

Yours’ always…

And last but not least a song, dedicated to her. I miss her a lot. I liked the song, sang it and recorded on my cell and made a video comprising only of sunsets in my photo collection. Sunsets because her name was “Mehr-unnissa” which literally means “The sun amongst the women”, which has now set. Video and recording very unprofessional but it doesn’t matter.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T2jz9CNFae8

Mothers are like no other

An edited version of this first appeared in Gulf News

http://gulfnews.com/opinions/offthecuff/mothers-are-like-no-other-1.805032

Mother’s Day musings

Motherhood is a journey – one that is filled with laughter, tears, happiness, pain, and most importantly, love. The first time a woman begins to feel like a mother is when the ‘news’ is confirmed, and the realization that a little heart beats inside of her dawns upon her with a mighty thud. Those few precious moments spent inside the doctor’s office are staggering and from that moment, her life is divided into two parts, with the baby, without the baby.

She feels sick in the mornings, unbelievably exhausted at work, and she can’t figure out why she craves dark chocolate at 2:00 AM. As the baby bump becomes more pronounced, the mom-to-be can be seen frequenting the loo more than usual, and favourite jeans and sweaters are unceremoniously dumped to the back of the wardrobe, replaced by maternity clothing. Pre-natal vitamins are gulped down religiously and books and websites are searched hungrily for information, but nothing – really nothing, can prepare her for the baby.

Childbirth is miraculous, outrageous and wonderful – but you forget all about it when the helpless little infant cries out for you to hold her, caress her, and give her nourishment. As the tiny fingers touch your cheek and you catch her grinning at only God knows what in her sleep, you wonder if you really deserve her. Then she stuns you with her excellent vocals – sometimes well into the night, and you wonder if you should cry too.

Infancy goes by with spit-ups on your shoulders (always on new shirts), lots of bananas, mashed foods, icky diapers and inadequate sleep. The first smiles, first steps and first words pass you by almost stealthily, because before you know it, the schoolboy in his crisp new uniform is your little one. Soon homework, taekwondo and football practice become a part of the daily schedule and your baby is now a social animal with his own friends, acquaintances and heroes. You are requested to ‘please dress nicely and not wear that hideous orange thing’ when you make the school run and soppy hugs around friends are ill-advised.

Teenage is sometimes characterized with loud music, sometimes with rebellion and almost always with heightened interest in the opposite gender. Words such as ‘communication gap’ and ‘lack of understanding’ are heard in a previously harmonious household and the mother wonders where she went wrong. Crushes and heartbreaks are nursed as the mother observes her child develop into a capable young adult with every bittersweet experience.

All too soon, the nestlings mature into strong, independent birds and the mother will be there to watch over them as they take flight and discover life anew. Laugh lines now rim her mouth and grey locks adorn her head, rather like a proud testimony of her vast experience and indisputable judgement — both of which come into play, of course, when she becomes the chief event planner for a wedding. Enthusiasm flows through her veins as she offers everything from marital advice to her own solitaire ring and blesses the couple.

The grandchildren adore her stories and her cooking, and why not? She’s been spoiling them silly ever since they came into existence. This stage of her life is perhaps the most satisfying of all, as she looks back contentedly at the well-spent years behind her.  But the days slip away like desert sand in a fist and life seamlessly delves into the last phase – and the most heartbreaking one of them all.

In a cruel twist of irony, the woman who held your hand when you took your first step is now unable to walk unless there is someone by her side. The very person who taught you your ABC’s needs thick glasses to peruse anything at all, and the one who kept reminding you about your language classes has trouble remembering the most basic things. The woman who put each morsel in your mouth can hardly eat with her own hand and rarely visits the washroom unaccompanied. Sometimes, elderly mothers are cherished, respected and loved inside the confines of their homes, at other times they find themselves inside homes for the aged, forgotten by their families and wonder why they can’t go back home.

Let’s take a moment to honour and appreciate these selfless individuals who gave up so much for our sake. Tell her how special she is, linger on just a little bit longer with that hug, and give her those roses you’ve been wanting to but couldn’t possibly find the time to. After all, you never know when it could be your last day with her.

Eight months later

 

I never thought going home would be so difficult. Forget difficult, I had no idea it would matter so much, would have such an impact on me. When the airplane touched down in Karachi, I instinctively dialled Mom’s number. It was out of habit. I cancelled the call half way and quickly dialled Dad’s instead.

The flashback of memories is unreal, almost eerie, as we (the kids and me) walk inside the gate. D8 is still the same – the tangy smell from the boughs that hang low from the leafy tamarind tree makes me nostalgic and I breathe deeply. The dated garden furniture greets me like an old friend as I walk past the porch to enter the lovely, grand, yet unkempt house.

There has never been a time when I have walked inside D8 and not run into my Mother’s room to embrace her. It dawns on me: this is the first time I have flown in from Dubai and will not be meeting her. Suddenly I’m scared – scared of facing the house – scared of bursting into tears. I walk into her room, head bowed as my eyes scan the room where her surgical bed was, where she lay serenely, with patience and forbearance, smiling and praising the Lord when anyone asked how she was doing. For a woman who was terminally ill and was in a lot of pain at every given moment, I thought it was pretty special – the way she always found the inner strength to say ‘Alhamdulillah’ and sound as though she meant it.

There is nothing where the bed once was, and I can’t find her anywhere. But of course – what did I expect? A sign perhaps? An indication that she’d known I’d come for her, a warm feeling that told me she knew how much I love and miss her. I didn’t expect the emptiness to hit me this hard – or the pin-drop silence inside the room to hurt my ears so severely. I had no idea I’d want to run away from D8 because the memories were everywhere.

Like snowflakes falling from the sky covering everything with a bed of snow, her memories have formed a sort of invisible layer over the entire house, and everywhere I look, I imagine her, sometimes I think I see her, but she’s nowhere to be found really, except in my head. I want to talk to her, thank her, hug her.

My mind automatically expects to see her when I visit home, and the fact that I can’t see the welcoming look in her eyes anymore, or feel her hands or her feet makes the pain of having lost her fresh again, and the eight months that have passed since she breathed her last cease to matter.

Time is a healer, certainly is, but not if you’re visiting D8. Oh God, please, I just want to run away. I plaster a smile upon my lips – a tad too bright and I am too chirpy. I hope no one will notice. I need out.

(A couple of links in the post above are articles I wrote about her)