Every Day Is a Mother’s Day
By Mohammad Yacoob
The train reduced its speed as it approached Secunderabad Deccan Railway Station. The people in the compartment became very excited and restless, started collecting their belongings, and had big grins on their faces. I felt miserable and began to cry. I was not happy to come back to this city. I had the feeling that I had been abandoned and sent into exile. At the destination of exile, I continued to cry. My uncle comforted me and told me that grandmother would be there to take us home. She did not come to the station. As soon as we reached home I ran up to her and continued to weep.
I was angry at my mother who had sent me back to Hyderabad Deccan from the city of Poona, now called Pune. I had bad dreams and nightmares, and with the passage of time I became very much attached to my grandmother. My mother was a very strong and outspoken person. Almost fifteen years later – ten years after partition of the Indo-Pak Sub-continent – my grandmother told me the truth as to why I was suddenly shipped to our hometown, Hyderabad from Poona, while my two brothers and a sister stayed back with our parents. My uncle, Major Iqbal, a distant relative of my father, was the Municipal Commissioner of Sialkot. Since he was an army man, my granduncle asked him to join him and his two nephews in Poona. Our granduncle, my father and my uncle (Taya Abba) were Royal Indian Army Southern Command (RIASC) Contractors. Major Iqbal was an asset to our business. Major Iqbal and aunt were very pleasant people. They loved children, perhaps because they did not have their own. It seems one day aunt mentioned to somebody that she was thinking of adopting me and was making plans to make a formal request to our granduncle, the family patriarch. If the patriarch of the family assents to such a request, then it was hard for any member of the family to refuse his command. My mother hearing this news through reliable sources knew that my father will agree with his uncle and will agree to the adoption. She shipped me to Hyderabad and let others know about her decision. I have no idea what transpired after my departure from Poona because I never saw aunt and Major Iqbal again. My grandmother never gave any details.
In the evenings and at bedtime, my mother would read to us the stories of Hatim Tai, Ali Baba and Forty Thieves, Aladin and his wonderful lamp and other fables from “One Thousand and One Night” – Alif Laila O Laila. After her return to Hyderabad from Poona, she continued to read us stories at night. In the beginning I was scared of her, yet I enjoyed the stories and even some personal incidents from her life and I began to love her again.
My father and my mother came to the United States in the late 1970’s and after three months decided that this was not the place they wanted to live and returned to Hyderabad. After the death of my father in the late 1980’s she decided to visit us after performing her second Hajj. Mohammad Yousuf Bhaijan, my older brother, was to accompany her during the trip. Ten days before their departure for Hajj, she had a mild heart attack. She survived the attack, which was the third in five years. During her first six days in the hospital she heard about four ladies who died in other patient wards in the hospital. One day she mentioned about the death of those ladies to her doctor who avoided talking about death. My mother quipped, “Doctor Sahiba, mai yahaan apney marzz kay elajj kay liye aayee hoon; mout kay elaj kay liye nahi.n” (Doctor Sahiba, I have come here to get medication for my disease and I have not come her to get medication against death). The same night she asked Bhaijan - my older brother, “When are we leaving for Hajj?”. “Ammijan, it is day after tomorrow,” he said. “We are leaving the hospital tomorrow morning,” she told him.
The next day without filling any discharge papers or obtaining any release authorization from the attending physician, bhaijan brought her home. I t could have been a classic case of abduction and kidnapping; usually newborn babies are kidnapped from the hospitals. The family members and close relatives were very upset and accused my older brother of trying to kill our mother. He said, “It is the command of my mother and I could not talk to her about her decision or disobey her wishes. Her wisdom, determination, courage and faith are so powerful that she would under no circumstances, change her mind not to go to Hajj.” She felt better after leaving the hospital and told my older brother to change the schedule and cancel the trip to California; she only wanted to perform Hajj and return. During Hajj, she again got sick in Mecca and my older brother had to take her to Jeddah, where his son-in-law was living. Our mother stayed in Jeddah for three days and then returned to Makkah to resume the Hajj. She returned to Hyderabad a much stronger and healthier person. She lived for another three years before going on her eternal journey.
My mother always received money requests from relatives and close friends. Many times distant relatives approached her for loan. She had developed a unique way of dealing with people. Whenever she was informed that a relative has arrived and was waiting for her in the living room she would immediately say, “Ask him, what does he want. Ask her, what does she want.” Once my younger sister came and stayed with us. Two weeks later my brother–in-law came to take her home. He was sitting in the living room when my younger brother went to tell our sister that her husband is here. On his way he saw mother and told her that brother-in-law is here. As usual and without thinking, she said, ”Ask him, what does he want.” My younger brother turned to her and said, “What does he want? Ammijan, he wants his wife to go with him.”
Now, I remember her every day. It is very painful, because, as soon as I think of her, the first word that comes to my mind is ‘speechless’. During the last week of April 1992, I kept on dreaming about my mother. Our older daughter Bilquis got married on 18 April 1992 and our mother very much wanted to attend the marriage and come to California but was too weak to travel. I think this is the reason that I kept on dreaming about her. I called her. She picked up the phone and asked, “Who is bothering me so early in the morning?” and hung up the phone. I felt miserable. I wanted to talk to her and tell her about those dreams and enquire about her health. On Saturday May 2, 1992, I called Hyderabad, late in the afternoon, to talk to my mother. My older brother picked up the phone. “I want to talk to Ammijan.” I said. “You don’t know, Abdul Rubb didn’t call you. She passed away two hours ago”, he said with a choking voice. It was a big jolt and a shock that rendered me speechless for a few minutes. Was it an ESP (Extra Sensory Perception) from her side that kept me restless for a week? I don’t know. It seemed Bhaijan called me within five minutes of her passing away. All lines were busy for an hour. Our younger brother Abdul Rubb was dispatched to the telephone exchange to make a ‘lightning call’ to me. He was still at the telephone exchange waiting for his turn to make the call when I called home.
Our mother passed away in peace. May Allah shower His grace on her and give her Jannat-ul Firdaus.
This year the Mother’s Day will be celebrated on May 13, 2012. It is a great day to honor mothers. For me, every day is a Mother’s Day. I remember her every day and pray for her Magfirah and salvation.
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