An Open Letter to My Mother

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A mother adjusts her daughter headscarf to celebrate the start of the three-day Eid al-Fitr festival in Kuala Lumpur on 30 August, 2011. AFP PHOTO / Mohd Rasfan
A mother adjusts her daughter headscarf to celebrate the start of the three-day Eid al-Fitr festival in Kuala Lumpur on 30 August, 2011. AFP PHOTO / Mohd Rasfan

Mother’s Day Special: Mae knows how strong her mother is but that strength never really dawned on her until she got pregnant. Here, Mae pays tribute to not just her mother, but all the supermoms around the world today. Please visit her blog HERE.

Dear Mum

Ever since dad taught us children how to pray, I’ve never let a day slip by without asking God to grant the both of you eternal love and mercy, which you both thoroughly deserve. Today is no different.

Even though your tireless devotion to the family is undoubted, I’ve never pondered deeply into it until I became a mother myself. I was pregnant with my first child at the same age as you were pregnant with me, your 10th. The scoreboard read 10:1 in your favour. I felt instantly defeated. Each time I struggle with the myriad of responsibilities that come with being a woman and feel tempted to complain, I think of you.

As a young mother, you lived in an era where water for domestic use must be collected daily from the well, disposable diapers were unheard of, washing machines were few and far between and you had none, oil lamps were used to light the darkness, and meals were manually prepared at home not helped by any sophisticated appliances, which now adorn our modern kitchens, sometimes uselessly. In short, everything that I do domestically now, you did them 10 times more and a lot harder then. So, how could I complain?

As a child, I listened to your captivating stories of how you pulled through trying times and I bore witness to some of them. You took everything in your stride with utmost faith that God would provide. Dad was the sole breadwinner while you stayed home to manage the domestic affairs of our very large family. By today’s standards, it seems like a mammoth task, which only the fittest could survive. Your marriage is the epitome of exceptional teamwork between two soulmates who not only complement each other perfectly but who also ride out the storm in solid unity. It wasn’t until I encountered a very rough patch in my life that you shared with me about the ups and downs of your own marriage. Above all, you never once hinted about stress but regarded everything as part and parcel of married life. You made me realise that my problems were so trivial and solvable, that I needed to toughen up. I wished for just 1% of your magnanimity and patience, which were the cornerstones of your successful and lasting union with Dad. Alas, my life story has been predestined and because of your relentless prayers, I am blessed.

 

Your world crumbled when Dad – the absolute love of your life and your rock – passed away. I was only 16 then and struggling with the huge blow myself. He was the wind beneath my wings. Even as you grieved, you were concerned that I was not too affected by the loss as to neglect my studies and well-being. You gave me one of Dad’s clothes, which he had worn before his passing, just so I could keep him close to me even if it was metaphorically. You reminded me of this Hadith and asked that I continue to pray for him:

The Prophet (peace be upon him) said,
“When a man dies, his good deeds come to an end, except three:
ongoing charity, beneficial knowledge and
a righteous offspring, who will pray for him.” (Muslim)

As I mature into an adult, I desired to emigrate and told you about my plan. You said very little and stared into space. I was so consumed by my own excitement that I didn’t realise how despondent you had become. Still, I felt you should be happy for me to start a new life in a new place, insisting on the common adage “to love is to let go”. I must admit that my mental frame then had been brainwashed by clichés. While battling your emotions, you gave me your blessings all the same.

Now that I am thousands of miles away from you, my heart cries each time you end our telephone conversation with “I love you and I pray everyday that you are in God’s care and protection always no matter where you are.” Your prayers are like soft, shady clouds under which I find solace. For that, I am incredibly lucky and forever grateful.

The Prophet (peace be upon him) said,
“Three supplications will not be rejected by Allah:
the supplication of the parent for his/her child,
the supplication of the one who is fasting,
and the supplication of the traveler.” (Tirmidhi)

I treasure all the moments we had together. We both loved taking joy rides around town in my car, often stopping for meals at your favourite spots. You have always been extremely unassuming despite having a very famous media personality and multi-award winner for a son. I recall how a relative had been quite excited by the buzz of his popularity that she introduced you to people not by your name but by the fact that you were your son’s mother. You kept your cool and remained unfazed by the attention.

Words can’t express my gratitude to you for all that you have done for the family. I felt I still have some unfinished business with regard to providing care for you now that you are in your golden years and we are apart. I seek your forgiveness for all my shortcomings and wrongdoings, which are like the foam on the sea. May God guide me to serve you in the way He knows best and may He bless my siblings who have been watching over you.

Today, when I look at Cookie, I see you. She bears a resemblance to you which appears obvious in many of the photos I have taken of her. Her presence in my life makes me appreciate you even more. I have started telling her about God’s existence and generous mercy, and taught her prayers for filial piety, some of the numerous important values and lessons you and Dad had taught us very early in our childhood. These days, Cookie says with conviction that God is in her heart everywhere she goes. I look forward to teaching her Iqra’ in time to come. As a champion Quran reciter during your youth, you will be an easy inspiration for her.

I love you more than you know. Your place in my heart and in my life is irreplaceable. Thank you for showing me what selflessness, resilience, forbearance, humility, fairness and unconditional love are without even defining them verbally.

“My Lord! Bestow on my parents Your Mercy as they did bring bring me up when I was young.” (Quran 17:24)

Love
Your Daughter

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