My Beloved Mother
By C. Naseer Ahmad
You and me against
Sometimes it seems like you and me against the world
When all the others turn their backs and walked
You can count on me to stay
popular song in 1974 captured the deeply spiritual
mother-child relationship. It certainly captured
my attention and I remember how fondly my beloved
mother responded to my letter – about this
song - from USA back then.
Every mother is protective of her child and likewise
every child needs a mother to help survive birth,
infancy and the formative years. My beloved mother,
Hamida Aziz, who was born on September 17, 1931
and died on June 8, 2005, was that kind of mother
whose love and care enable me to learn to read and
write and to be whatever I am today.
I remember the day when she recorded my first “Azan”
– call to prayers - on a brand new Grundig
tape recorder my late father had brought from Germany.
Through that experience I learned to discover the
world of technology from a housewife with just elementary
school education. I remember the joy on her face
on the day I finished the reading of the Holy Qur’an.
Remember when the circus came to town
How you were frightened by the clown
Wasn't it nice to be around someone that you knew
Someone who was big and strong and looking out for
Through life’s journey, which sometimes seemed
like a circus, I remember facing many clowns. None
of them scared me more than the ride from Kharian
to Multan – which back then seemed to me the
longest journey in life to visit my father in Mailsi,
where he worked on an engineering project. The scary
beggars – with their distorted bodies - who
peeped through windows of cars terrified me. I remember
how calmly my mother handled them.
In 1963 when my father was transitioning from the
army to work in the private sector, we lived in
Kharian for a year. I remember the day when President
Kennedy was shot my mother was preparing breakfast
for me. She taught me about the world that existed
beyond the walls of the kitchen. During Ramadan
when all my friends would fast, my mother would
not want me to observe fast since I was asthmatic
needing medication during the day. There I learned
that one could be deeply spiritual without being
After learning how to operate (and dismember a tape
recorder), I discovered how to fidget with the mosque
loud speaker. Every morning, I would race to the
mosque to make the call for prayers (Azan), before
the designated muezzin could reach the mosque. My
unbridled enthusiasm and fast feet beat his age
and guile every time. Naturally, he would complain
about me. Since, my mother and my grandfather were
forgiving, he tried his luck with my grandmother.
Among my other crimes were also jumping on people’s
rooftops and scheming other mischief. I had given
her some reason to lend him sympathetic ears, because
the night before I made her scream with my mark
of “Zorro” costume. Tired of my antics,
my grandmother pulled me aside and said, “Think
about gaining a useful skill.” I actually
did think it over and found that I was pretty skillful
in creating trouble and I found gaining notoriety
to be a worthy occupation then.
The prayers of villagers in Kharian were answered
when my father came to take me to Lahore in 1964.
Perhaps, it was my father’s disciplining or
just a revelation that going to school was not so
bad after all. My energies now were channeled towards
more constructive activities like participating
in community service.
At college, I served as a vice-president of an inter-collegiate
student body. The leadership meetings would often
bring me to my friend Pervaiz Minhas’ house
for evening tea, it helped me cope with asthma.
My friend’s house was close to “Alliance
Francais” which offered evening classes in
French. Just to keep life interesting, I decided
to enroll in those classes in addition to full time
college studies and other activities. Late at night
after taking care of her other children and my father,
my mother would come to the dining table with a
cup of hot tea for me. As I worked on learning French,
my mother joined me too. By the time I was done
with the course, my mother and I could speak a few
sentences in French.
I remember how happy my mother felt when our first
trip outside of Pakistan took us to Paris. We felt
that we had an edge over the rest of the family
members. Whenever she wanted to say something privately,
she would use her limited knowledge of French to
confide in me. In fact, until recently when I visited
her at the National Hospital in Lahore, she would
crack a few lines in French when she did not want
to let the nurses know what was on her mind.
And when one of us is gone
And one is left alone to carry on
Then remembering will have to do
Memories alone will get us through
Think about the days of me and you
You and me against the world
Such are my
memories of my loving and forgiving mother and I
am sure such is the story of the mother-child relationships
in the world.