It was 10:15 pm when my mother entered my room, as I was working on my new project which had to be submitted the next day. “Stop working and sleep child, you have to get up early tomorrow” she said that in her usual concerned tone, I told her I had to work so she left without saying a word.
As I was busy in my project, time passed in a blink, at 12:00 am, mom came to me again “child, it’s too late now, go to sleep” this time more concerned. I gave her a sharp look “I have to work; don’t you get it? Please let me work!” I almost shouted. She was offended, I could see that in her eyes and I regretted saying what I had but the tension on her forehead was surprisingly relaxed and very calmly she asked “Is this work important?” “yes, very.” I replied instantly. She nodded in agreement, and left.
Half an hour later, I felt a wave of hunger running in my stomach, I was tired and hungry and I still had work to do. As I was wondering what to eat, mom appeared with a tray. She placed the gingered tea and homemade biscuits (which I love) on the table, gave me a smile and left. All this time, I kept on wondering how did she know exactly when I was hungry? I ate all the biscuits and started working again as I drank the tea.
It was nearly 2:00 am when the last bit of work was still left. My head was dizzy and eyes were giving up, I turned around to look at the clock which was hanging above the door of my room but instead my eyes were caught at the door. Mom was standing there leaning at the door, looking at me “why are you still awake mom?” I asked in a worried tone but she ignored my question and asked “tired?” She came to me before I nodded and started stroking my hair. She was standing behind my chair so I leaned my head against her stomach and closed my eyes; It was so peaceful. Around 10 mins later, I lifted my head and told her my work was almost done “5 more minutes and then I will sleep” she just smiled at me and left.
But it didn’t take 5 minutes, it took an hour and as I got up from my desk and sat on my bed, the light went out. We live in a country where load shedding is not unusual and not everyone here has a generator or UPS at there house. We had a UPS but It was not working properly, for the whole week. As it was August and the weather is usually humid then, it was a misery that it was load shedding but I was too tired to think of anything so I lay in my bed and fell asleep shortly after.
RING! RING! RING!
I woke up to the alarm ringing at 6:30 am and was astonished to find my mom sitting beside my bed on a wooden chair with a hand fan with her. She was asleep on the chair and I could see how uncomfortable that wooden chair was. I called out to her and she opened her eyes saying “what happened child? Are you feeling heat?” that was when I noticed she had been waving the hand fan for me all night and had been sweating herself.
“no mom, it’s 6:30, it’s time for me to wake up” I got out of the bed and said “mom get up from the chair and sleep on my bed”
“what time is it?” she asked almost asleep “6:30” I replied and my words seemed as if they struck her like an electric shock, she got up in a blink of an eye and exclaimed “I have to wake your father!” saying this, she rushed towards the door then turned around before leaving “you, get ready and don’t leave without having breakfast.” I couldn’t help but smile. As she left I wondered ‘mother will always be a mother’
I had breakfast with everyone else at the table, then got up and walked towards my car. Before I could unlock the car, I heard mom calling “child wait! You forgot your lunch” and again I couldn’t help but smile. She came to me, handed the lunch box then kissed my forehead “May Allah bless you with success” saying this she went back inside.
As I sat in my car, on my way to the university I wondered how mom had the capacity to stay awake all night, wake up early in the morning, rush up and down to wake everyone else, then prepare breakfast for them, then send them to their office, university, schools. And then did she have breakfast or did she start her everyday chores right away? No one asked her if she had breakfast or what she would like to have or how was her day or what she did all day or is she tired?
All we did was ask her what she cooked for breakfast, lunch or dinner or where are our clothes or why didn’t you wash my green shirt and so on and on. Why doesn’t she get tired, I wondered?
Today, I wonder what I would have been if it wasn’t for her. It is 12:00 am, mom is sleeping in her room, all my siblings are busy in their respective lives, they come to visit her once a week and sometimes don’t come at all. Dad is gone, mom stays with me at my place. She is not well, neither can she properly walk nor see. Old age is cruel to many.
Its 1:12 am and the lights are out; load shedding. I went to mom’s room to switch on the emergency fan and I saw her laying there on her bed, her face is wrinkled now, hair grey, her hands show swollen blue veins, the doctors have given up hope, but how can someone just go away like that?
What is more painful? The world? reality? or aging? Whatever is, I guess this is life. After all, this world is not a wish granting factory. After all, pain demands to be felt. After all, life ends in a middle of a sentence.
Its 7:30 am and I am leaving for work, as I went to mom’s room, the nurse exits. I went to mom and kissed her forehead, then got up to leave. I hear a low voice behind me as I place my hand on the door knob “child” I turn around “don’t leave without breakfast”, “okay” I said with a nod and then left.
As I sat in my car I can’t help but smile, this time tears in my eyes. ‘mother will always be mother’ I wonder.