Sunday, September 25, 2011

The Day My Mother Went To Live With The Stars

The sky had opened up and it poured like there is no tomorrow. It was easy on the grave diggers since the ground had swelled, grew soft, and the shovels went in easy! It was typical of my mother to leave the world in a way that was least troublesome for others, who were in her life. In life her need was bare minimum, and so it was in her death.

She was of a time that allowed people to be content easily, albeit, even for that time she was astonishing in simplicity. From a modest beginning, I reached a position in life where I am able to fulfill most of my reasonable demands without much sweat, and my mother knew it very well. Nonetheless, she never asked me for anything—anything at all, because she did not need anything. She lived the life of a hermit, within the bound of society.

My earliest memory of her—it was a noon, on a very hot summer day, when my mother was about to eat her lunch. She used to eat after everyone else in the family did. In those days, we had no refrigerators, and cooked food would get spoiled easily. Therefore, every day, there would be three cooking sessions, so that food would be consumed fresh, and there would be no left over.

Outside our home there was a ground, where I would spend the whole summer vacation playing cricket with my friends. On that day, I had just come in the house to fetch some water for my thirsty friends. As I was collecting water from a tube well I saw a beggar come in and ask, “Is anyone at home? I am hungry; would you give me some food?” It was customary in our small town for the beggars to come in through the main door, which remained open throught out the whole day, and wait inside. It was a disheveled woman with all white hair, very sharp eyes and no teeth, who had just entered in.

My mother was about to begin eating, she saw the woman, and said, “Take a seat mother, let me bring something for you.” That day she shared her food with that old woman. This would happen many more times, and therefore, would leave a very strong impression on my mind that is as vibrant today. I can close my eyes, and watch that old woman sitting on the verandah and eating from a piece of banana leaf.

The most vivid memory I have of my mother was when she beat the hell out of me. I was about 12, therefore, old enough to remember it very well. On top of that it added sort of further embarrassment for a while, because the next day, our school maulavi narrated that story in our Arabic class. He said he was passing through the area, when he saw my mother beating me with a stick in front of our house. My mother was tiny, nevertheless very strong built. And even at that age she could make mincemeat of me.

As he narrated the story, my embarrassment slowly evaporated and a kind of pride took its place. He said that the whole class should be proud of my mother. He said, the son from a house that had a mother like mine, did not need any disciplining in school. He said that he had a new respect for my family, and after that day he never beat me.

Another memory I have of her, was of an evening in the middle of one winter. It was the night of shab-e-barat. She trusted, she was required to spent that night in prayer since on that night God writes fate for the next coming year. She had collected water from the tube well which was at one corner of our house, for taking a bath. That night was very cold, and the blowing wind made it worse. When I was huddled in a room in warm cloth, my mother took her bath open in the cold, with cold water, to make her ready for the prayer.

In my life, I do not face east or west in asking mercy of God, notwithstanding, I have a strong conviction, that I have had such a blessed life—it must only be because of my mother, her account with God is so rich that my lifetime of sins had not depleted it.


  1. Your story reminds me of my mother and the mothers of all my friends.

  2. Yes Muneem, that was probably a different time, when compassion was commonplace. The same thread ties so many of our stories, but those are the tale of bygone days.

  3. I am sorry for the world's loss, but it sounds like she has earned her rest. Good memories.

  4. I read this and laughed and cryed at the same time. How similiar we all are in the universe.