Saturday, 13 June 2015

In Her Footsteps

I wanted to write this before I left for the airport because I knew I would be an emotional wreck when I returned home. However, I got busy so I'm now writing this as my dad drives us back home down the M4.

My mum is going to Bangladesh today for eight weeks and two days (yes, I'm counting) and she is leaving my eldest sister and me in charge of looking after the house and family. My dad has reassured us that we will be fine while she's gone but it's such a big responsibility.

When I first found out that she was going to Bangladesh, I was in denial and kept telling her, 'You're not going' to which she replied, 'Yes, I am!' But then I had to be practical and started learning how to cook typical Asian dishes once my exams were over. I knew cooking Asian foods would be my biggest obstacle because we're slowly approaching the month of Ramadan and my family (like most) seek comfort food after a day of fasting. Therefore, there were days when my mother shadowed me as I added the garlic or spices after which I would frantically wipe my hands on my apron to scribble this step on a piece of paper. Some days, however, she left me alone in the kitchen to prepare and cook three separate dishes. I'm telling you now that whipping up three individual pasta dishes is easier because the multi-tasking involved cooking curries almost killed me. Thankfully, my mum froze some dishes before she left so all I have to do is defrost them and they're ready to eat!

During the last few weeks, I have had to learn a lot. I've made many notes of recipes and mental reminders and I'm hoping I remember it all. Unfortunately, I have the worst memory ever so I'm praying my brain is screwed on tightly (FYI I did almost put a bottle of oil in the fridge).

There's so much my mum does for us that it would be futile to list (plus, many mothers do the same). That's why it's going to be really hard without her. I haven't stayed away from her for this long, none of my family have. I don't really know how I will cope. During the past few weeks I've wished several times that I could travel to the future when my mum has returned just so I could know how to manage things now. If I had my way, I wouldn't have let her go. My eldest sister was huffing about my mum going but it's easier to comfort someone else. I told her that mum needs a break, that she deserves time to herself. Then she says, 'this is how mum must feel whenever we go on residential' and I realise how true that is. Only difference is that she's going for eight weeks and not a week.

I don't why it's so hard to let go of you mother...

Who will plait your hair when your arms ache from fatigue?
Who will stir the "perfect" amount of sugar into your tea?
Who will clip your nails when you can no longer reach your toes?
Who will bother getting a bowl of Frosties and milk when you're craving a midnight snack?

I don't really do it because you can't. I do it because you did it for me.

I hadn't cried up until now. I was the only one besides my dad who would be available to go to the airport so I knew I was the last to say goodbye. It's so hectic in the airport and when she had to leave for immigration I panicked and started blubbering. My dad didn't let that go on for too long though thankfully because he urged us towards the airport exit. I don't know how the next few weeks will be. I don't know whether I will remember all the things my mum has said I should remember. I don't know whether I will be able to coordinate the things that happen in my family. All I do know is that I will try my best to act in my mother's footsteps.

After God, I devote my life to my mother and father. I try my best to help them, make them laugh, make them proud. It's only recently that my mother and I have become really close. Whenever we're laughing together about something, my younger sister often randomly says, 'amma (mum), lal afa (what she calls me) is your favourite daughter innit?' I always respond that I wasn't always her favourite. You can tell when you live in a big family such as mine whose your mother's favourite and a year ago it certainly wasn't me. But then I learnt how Islam teaches that 'Paradise lies beneath your mother's feet' and that transformed my attitude towards my mother.

I began to change the way I spoke to her. I reminded myself of that teaching whenever I felt like raising my voice. I realised that although it was my life, my parents were responsible for that life so they deserve to be respected irregardless of my rebelling hormones. Because of that teaching, I finally understood why in year 7 my friend was shocked that I had shouted at my mother. I also regretted the time I told my parents that I would visit them in the care home near our house because Islam taught to look after your parents in old age as they did for you. So I honour the upbringing they gave me and treat them with respect. I recognise the sacrifices my mother made to ensure that we were happy and sacrifice my time to revise or study to help her in return. Our relationship isn't perfect (whose is right?), we do argue sometimes but I'm practicing. I will always be practicing.

I don't ever want to be angry and impatient towards her because a mother's grief never goes unanswered. I remember once at an Islamic gathering, a student said how her friend was arguing with her mother and then when her mother asked for water, she refused to bring it because they had just argued and that would be awkward. Shortly after, her sister in law brought water but her mother had passed away. That story serves as a strong reminder whenever I feel too arrogant to forgive my mother or anyone. My mother on the other hand is amazing at forgiving people. She will be annoyed with you one second and offering you a plate of rice with meat the next. No amount of anger could equal to a mother's love.

My mother taught me to love, to laugh and to cry. She taught me how to sacrifice, how to give up, how to dream for something better. The next few weeks will be hard. They will put everything she taught me to the test. I just hope I do half as good a job as she does.

I hope I make her proud, walking in her footsteps. 



  1. Love this post Rima, my mother went to Pakistan last year in the last few months of A2, I had to cook/clean/shop and do all my coursework at the same time :') I know how you feel. You'll miss your mother every day, but I'm sure once she comes back you'll be proud of how you handled yourself, and took care of your family :)

    1. Ahh, during alevels! You had it so much harder than me. Hopefully I'll be stronger mentally. I've already started appreciating the time my mother puts into the family; it's really hard!