‘When you have a mother, you have everything’ – a very wise and true saying.
Being a mother is a very thankless job. Right from bearing a child in the womb to delivering it with great pain and holding it in their hands, from feeding milk to seeing it take baby steps, from allowing them to walk out of home (with a heavy heart and teary eyes) to the day care or nursery to seeing them graduate and get independent thereafter – one whole life cycle of a child and the many years of selfless service of every woman behind them.
There are different shades of selflessness to every mother I have met and these shades are magically beautiful, each wonderfully painting the lives of their children, families and beyond like a rainbow. Until now, this time of my life, I have some really special mothers I look up to for their selflessness, strength, wise attitudes, unconditional love and care and abundant energy. I have never got a chance to express my love, my feelings, my gratitude to them but I would like to take this chance to thank them and out of respect to other mothers too, whom I do not know personally but have definitely inspired me in some or the other stage of my life. I hope these letters I’m writing reach out to my special mothers to whom I want to hug and thank them, touch their feet (as in Islam it is said, heaven lies in the feet of a mother) and pray that their selfless attitude of love and care will help their children grow up as beautiful and strong as they are.
To my Dearest, Loving mom – ‘Loving mom’ – Just the way I have saved your name on my phone. I have people questioning me why I have it as loving mom as mothers are never ‘hating mom’s’. All I tell them is…you never know. Mom, you have been selfless not just in motherhood but also in your entire life since you were a kid. Serving your family in all big or small ways was your only motive. You had your inner desires to be yourself, to stand for yourself but you kept them all buried within you just so that you could do what Nani always wanted you to – do household chores, cook food for 10 odd people in the house, get settled, bear kids and live your life for them. You bore the first grandson of the family – my brother who is now a role model for everyone who wants to follow. He would not have been where he is now without your 40 years of unconditional love and care which you still have, just that it is in indirect mode rather than direct. His calm mindset, hard working attitude, love for family and zest for taking up responsibilities have been your gifts to him. He has always been your adoring son and will be. You do not tell him but I know your care still overflows for him, though you see him only once or twice a month. I have heard you ranting, “he misses biryani, chicken” and how his daily commute, work and family responsibilities are keeping him on his toes which is why he is busy all the time and that worries you equally.
Thirteen years after his birth, you gave birth to me. You also told me all the incidents when you found yourself pregnant with a girl child and how dad was not willing to have a girl child in the family, how he forced you to abort or even sell of to a businessman or the nurses in the maternity home. The day I was born, I remember you were still busy with your household chores, fetching water from the street tap and walking towards home, after which my kicks within your tummy made you realize that it’s time :). You gave birth to me and were so adored by my innocence and beauty that you and Bhaiya decided to keep me as your own. You readily accepted me with all your love, even though you had to bear dad’s wrath, live away from him for 3 months all by yourself just because he wasn’t happy to have a daughter. You still cleverly planned to bond dad and me together, when he came visiting you after 3 months and you purposely took Bhaiya with you, and left me alone in the house with dad on the behest of getting groceries and I played my role well too. I cried incessantly so that the fatherly love I was missing, could flow out of my father’s heart and it worked well as planned, mom. He took me in his arms as he couldn’t bear to see me crying and since then you know – I have been daddy’s favourite always :).
Your sacrifices have been innumerable mom. I know how much it hurts for you to see Bhaiya and me go to school, then college, now at different phases of life and with corporate jobs of course where you spend your time at home busy with home chores and waiting for bhaiya and me to return home. You have been living all by yourself daily for those 10-12 hours, even when dad was in Saudi for 3.5 years straight consecutively twice. You never let Bhaiya or me miss dad ever and you single handedly took care of us and our home in his absence while he worked hard for our happiness miles apart. You always pushed us to take up challenges like these of working abroad or taking up corporate jobs, not for your motives just so that we have a good future atleast. You have felt lonely most times but you do not say because you know we are working hard to earn for the family, for a good future and I salute your spirit mom. You wake up early to pack lunch,handle household chores still and it pains to see how it has still been your first priorities than your health. Your daily phone calls to enquire if we finished our lunch, was the salt content right, what time we are back home still shows your care for us. You wait till I get back home so you can have dinner together, you always put Bhaiya and me first than you in just everything – getting us our favourite things, basic necessities, in food and during our pains and illnesses too.
What I love the most about you is your beautiful smile and laughter which I aim to kindle everyday with my purposeful goofiness (even at this age) or with the comedy shows which I always want you to watch so that you feel less stressed and be more happy for your long life. I love how you do not tell us about your desires to hang out like us but when we go for a movie or a dine out, I can see your childlike happiness watching the movie, enjoying popcorn and coffee and of course your favourite dishes that you relish at the restaurants. I love how you like to dress up now, which you never did in your 20s or 30s but it is very cute when you are concerned about your looks – if your brow is still white, if the compact you applied on your face is more and how you ask me to apply kajal to your eyes. I’m so glad that even now mother daughter are really particular about our good looks, attires and fashion- Haha touchwood!. I’m grateful mom that at least now you choose to do things that you desire. I love it when you see me struggle on something and your instant ideas break my struggle bubble so quickly that I always love telling you – ‘Mom you are so smart’ and your genuine laughter following it is always magical. I love the stories of your parents, your childhood memories, how life has changed over the decades, the past and the present, how you adore and find your grandchildren super smart and laugh at their cute fights and fun. I love the fact that you let Bhaiya and me be so independent and responsible children of yours, irrespective of how you lived your childhood or adulthood with all the struggles and hardships, but you let us live our freedom in the right manner. You also fought against society norms and always stood by us in our choices, in our decisions even if your heart was not fully there, just for our happiness.
A big big big thank you going out your way mom, you have been my inspiration always in everything from life situations to challenges to being ever loving and childish and also for being there for dad, brother and me always. This gratitude is never going to fill your lap for the unconditional love and care you have given us. May God bless you with good health, happiness and love always.
To My Dearest Second Mom Nusrath Aunt – You have been my other mother in my childhood, Nusrath Aunty. Being a sister in law for mom, you have been more of an elder sister to her. When mom had her set of struggles at home, you chose to support her by allowing her to visit your home, take her help in cooking, you allowed us to enjoy meals together with you, be around and keep in touch. I have never spent this much time of my childhood in grandma’s home, than I spent in yours. Your house was really big then and so was your heart. Your sweet nature of calling people home, serving them delicious dishes, enjoying the evenings, going shopping etc were the best part of your loving nature. You were always selfless in your love not just to your own children but also to all your sisters, brothers, your husband’s side sisters and their families and kids. Your love for every kid in the family was adorable. I still remember how you treated me as your daughter and cared for me when I reached your home after school on the pretext of meeting mom and I cried immensely on not seeing her and you calmed me down, fed me lunch and let me sleep peacefully while you gave her a call and informed her that I came to your home and I was missing her. I really loved your care and always loved being a part of your family.
I have seen your love for your daughter and sons, my cousins – Asma Didi, Asif Bhaiya and Muzzu Bhaiya – all elder to me by 10-12 years. You married off Asma Didi at a very young age even when she was the best precious piece of your heart. She still was after she moved to her in laws home, gave birth to two adorable daughters who were your most loved cuties you admired. Asma didi is an exact mirror image of you and your love for her has been in abundance always. The trips you enjoyed with her, the shopping etc. I have seen how you used to take care of Asif Bhaiya and Muzzu Bhaiya even when they were in their 30s – you still fed them with your hands, caressed their hair, put their heads to your lap and laughed your heart out with them. You were and are the most beautiful image of motherhood to me.
I have seen your life’s ups and downs when things changed drastically due to bad financial conditions. How you moved from a real big home to a small one. You never complained or even let your own children know the struggles you were facing and still did your best to make ends meet by your own ways like starting catering business, home made papad etc just so that you could get rid of the debts. You stood by us in our bad times and we chose to stand by you in yours. Your smile never disappeared even in those hard times. You chose to stay strong not just for yourself but for your husband and children. Even during these tough times, your nature of spreading love through your delicious delicacies didn’t end. Everytime people came home, you still chose to feed them with whatever you had at your disposal. There was never once anybody went empty stomach from your home.
Years later, when I visited you to pick up something from you after college timings, you had made yummy biryani for one of your catering orders and since I had lunch at college and then came over , I refused to eat. You still pestered me to eat the biryani and the dessert without which you never allowed me to go. It was part of your catering order yet you chose to serve me neglecting your difficult financial conditions. Your love never ended with your death Nusrath Aunt. I never thought that was the last biryani I was relishing. Your death shattered me the most, as it was so sudden. I really wanted to hear you call me again, tell mom to send me to your home, wanted to see you smile and laugh, wanted you to be a part of my wedding that you had been dreaming since my childhood. Even now I have your phone number saved , even now I miss you calling me or mom to enquire about us and ask us to come home and visit you. I don’t even have a photo with you but you always will live in my heart forever.
Thank you Nusrath aunt for your selfless love to all of us, in the form of your care, your yummy food, your immense happiness and sweet nature that I will always miss in my life. May your soul rest in peace.
To My Dearest Grandmother (Nani) – Nani, you have been the ideal strict mother of your times. I have seen your strict nature yet you loved each one of us – the 7 young girls, your grandchildren who lived under your guidance all our childhood. Your daily routine of waking up early, taking bath, keeping everything in order, preparing for the morning Arabic and Quran classes at home even before having your breakfast were commendable. You really had the authority of the house with all the kids staying along with their parents. I always admired your strength with which everyday you set out to teach Quran lessons to the children in the neighborhood. No matter the distance, you always preferred to walk even at the age of 70. Every night after dinner, it was sweet to see you sit and read your favorite urdu newspaper and tell us the daily current affair news. Your authority was as strong as your voice. When all of us 7 sisters played screamed and were being naughty, you always put us under control with your high pitched angry tone. I never saw you adore us or love us with your soft heart which I know you had but you never expressed. Your authority reigned with your cupboard keys too which no one dared to touch or open. We were always curious, as to what you had saved in your cupboard that you never opened in front of us or let us touch them.
Mom always told me that you were strict even for her. Your authoritative nature had been constant since she was a kid. Your respect in the society was so much that everyone knew us as your grandchildren- Asiya Bi’s grandchildren. Every Eid in your house was more grand because we had biryani from literally every household, from all the homes where you used to teach Quran to them and their children.
When you passed away Nani, the entire city mourned and even the skies. It rained heavily that day when you were taken away from us for your burial. Your service to society has been so selfless. You did not worry about your age or health yet you ensured you pass on the knowledge of Quran and Islam to kids and women. You gave all your life to this selfless service and your contribution to society has been tremendous that even the Almighty wanted you back to Him and on your death even the skies were teary eyed. Your contribution to society till your last breath is very inspirational and I wish to be of some service to mankind just the way you were. Your stubborn attitude and anger was only on the outside but I know within your heart how much you cared for each of your child and your grandchildren. You know, I go grocery shopping just like you with a list of things to get and when I get back home, mom and I arrange them in the same manner as you used to do even in your 70s. To us 7 little girls, you were more than our grandmother. We miss your angry voice calling our names everytime we did something naughty. Thank you for all your love and care Nani. We miss you loads.
To My Dearest All rounder Bhabhi – Bhabhi, you faced a lot of hardships when you got married to bhaiya, 11 years ago yet you kept yourself strong. You did your best to keep my Bhaiya happy and gave him his life’s most precious gift, his first child – Baby boy Ayaan. I still remember that day when I saw both of you so happy and blessed. With Ayaan coming to your lives, your lives changed immensely. Every set of pictures taken, I remember how much Ayaan has been the apple of your eyes. You managed home, office and Ayaan with sleepless nights and odd working hours , yet you never let Ayaan miss anything from love and care, time, his first injection, his first bicycle, his first tooth fall etc. You single handedly managed it all along with Bhaiya who changed from how he was all strict to currently a very loving and understanding father and your life partner. Two years later, you had your second child – Baby girl Muskaan who is a replica of me. I remember during both your pregnancies you did not have much of help or knowledge but you ensured you took care of yourself during your pregnancies with right food, right amount of sleep, nutrition and it showed when you held each of your baby in your hands. I adore how you became a pro with both the kids, in terms of making them understand when they become cranky or demanding, teaching them life lessons when they are at fault, having a proper time table of their food, home work, play time and sleep ensuring they are well disciplined right from their young age. Your children Muskaan and Ayaan are this intelligent, sweet, caring and smart all because of your immense selfless efforts. Your motherly attitude though had been your first experiences but you really are a pro, Bhabhi.
It takes a lot of courage to quit a corporate job to handle two children, give them time but you use your time very wisely with the children’s library that you opened in the apartment. Such a thoughtful decision and it not only was a decision for you but your willingness to service the society with your whole hearted nature of sharing knowledge and nurturing little talents. When the whole society has ladies who keep servants to do their household chores whereas they while away their time, you chose to manage your time like a wonder woman by doing all the household chores, handling kids with their school time, play time, home work time, helping Bhaiya with his office and then spend the day with managing the library and your art classes all by yourself. Hats off to your undying spirit Bhabhi.
You are an inspiration to every young mother who feels she is struggling at some phase of her life with her children, her job, her family responsibilities. You truly are a motivation to all the women out there.
To My Dearest Wittiest Miss Bernard – You were my class teacher during my most budding teenage times, during my 9th and 10th Std. Until then you had already completed a decade of your selfless service to teaching over a thousand children. You never had kids biologically but you already were a mother to those thousands whose lives you had touched, inspired and shaped with your teaching and lessons. Your witty attitude and your fashion styles were something I always admired and of course your one liners that could lighten up even the most serious situations. You knew every nerve of the generations of children you have taught and knew how to handle them with your fun loving tactics. You knew how to keep us quiet when we used to chatter while you dictated the notes and also knew how to put us on the right path with your wit and humor. It always put us in a fix to feel embarrassed with the punishment yet smile at your witty scoldings we were targeted with.
I had the privilege to be nurtured, tutored under your guidance and you helped me grow with my leadership skills. You knew how to tap each one’s talent at the right moment even when it made us uncomfortable. You allowed us to take up challenges, fight our fears and come out victorious. During the 10th std board exams, you were my second biggest support , after mom when I was diagnosed with chicken pox just after 3 exams. I had given up in my mind to overcome this problem and also was ready to give up a year of my studies. But your words of encouragement and constant prayers helped me finish the remaining 3 exams and made me the second topper of the school. I was very grateful then and I am very grateful to you even now. I had the special status to be your right hand in school and I tried my best to live up to your expectations. All my friends were jealous of me but I loved being your right hand, doing the right things under your guidance and polishing my leadership skills and excelling in studies and extra curricular activities at the same time. My multi tasking talent was brought out by you Miss Bernard and you will be happy to know that I am able to grow in the corporate world all because of your support and teachings.
A big thank you for being there for every child and your 20 years of lessons, motherly love and guidance has been God’s gift to every child which will help each of them for their entire lives. I wish my kids get to study under you too.
To My Youngest Yummy Mommies – My dearest friends Tasneem and Syrup, I met each of you in college and you have been my bestest friends ever since then. Over a decade of friendship and we are still going strong, touchwood!. Life has changed since college till now with each of you married, settled abroad with your lovely children. At such young age, it requires a lot of courage to stay away from your parents, miles away with just phone calls and video calls to keep in touch and with your children growing in a different country away from their own. Each of you are my inspiration. I salute you Tasneem for being so strong handling troublesome situations of your in laws yet being able to stand to your ideals and taking care of your husband and your beautiful daughter Maisarah on the different side of the world. You are my motivation to be a super mom handling your family, your job, your hobbies and self. I wish you remain this strong always and Maisarah grows up to be your shadow as she already has your beautiful smile and style.
I salute you Syrup for I know how hard it was for you to accept the decision of getting married at such a young age just for the sake of your parents. Moving to Europe and settling there was not easy and I know how depression took over your life and it changed you forever. You still chose to pick yourself up and start things that made you happy like your art and crafts which in college I always admired. Slowly you began to excel and do more and then life brought you to the beautiful side of motherhood with your first son Arham and now Amaar who have your smile and are so happy and energetic just like their mommy. Your smile, laughter and naughtiness are still the same and I am amazed how you carry yourself so well and still manage to come over with your cuties so that you could meet all of us and be at home for mom dad. You have been my biggest support in terms of making me strong by sharing your tough experiences, telling me – ‘Zeba you have to be strong for yourself. No one will always be with you. You have to be for yourself during your tough times’. Thank you Syrup, at your age you are way older in your thoughts, values and responsibilities. You are the mother I admire to be. Stay strong and happy always.
To My Dearest Friends’ Mothers – Vaishnavi, Afshan and Megha – I have met each of you in different phases of my life and each of you have been my thickest supports ever since. It was not just your friendship but also each of your mother’s love that I have been blessed with and I cherish that with all my heart. Vaish, I met your mom just once but I have always been her ‘dosa girl’. Her yummy dosas have been more mine than yours, thank you for being the mediator between our love :). A big thank you to your mom for being so thoughtful of me everytime she made dosas at home. Her tag for me as ‘dosa girl’ will always remain, and as I write about her here, my mouth is watering as I am missing those dosas I relished a decade ago. Her selfless love in the form of dosas have been a blessing for me. I adore her innocence and miss her.
Afshan, you are your mom’s strongest shadow. I have no words to express how your mom has been so strong even to this day to take care of her two beautiful daughters in the absence of your father. It takes immense courage to stand on your feet in this male dominant world to work hard, to earn for your family and to make a mark for yourself. She is truly an inspiration to all the Muslim and non Muslim women to remain modest yet take up responsibilities like a man. I salute her undying spirit of service even now after she chose to retire but comeback just so that she can support your well being and growth. All my love to her.
Megha, you have told me tons of stories of your parents and their sweet love story and when I met them in Chandigarh, I was blessed to have been under their care for those two days. Your mom’s beautiful smile, her fashion and style, her sense of humor and constant care are very admirable. It broke my heart when I heard about your cancer,but her spirit is really strong that she will comeback strong just as she did after her car accident and the dog attack she had last year. She is an answer to God’s biggest tests that she is a warrior woman who will be back stronger come what may. I wish her positivity, strength and all our love and support will help her make a beautiful comeback to life.
To all the mothers I see struggling to make a living yet being strong standing in the buses or selling vegetables with your heavy wombs or driving with your children tied up to you, I salute your strength not just physical but mental too, your courageous hearts are filled with immense selfless love and care that they act as every child’s life support system.
Thank you for being an inspiration to all and I wish you a Happy mother’s day not just today but everyday. Kudos to each one of you!.