Mostafa Kamal Majumder
Dhaka – I call my lone daughter ‘mom’. We have only one issue. The attachment we have for her cannot be compared with anything else. She has grown over the years and now works with the GP as a senior executive.
We are lucky to have had my mother living with with us in Dhaka for about a year which was also the last year of her life. I came to realise after sometime that in her presence I was calling both my mother and my daughter ‘mom’. My mother who was then 84 – breathed her last at the age of 85 – used to remain awake till I came back home every night after finishing work at my paper office. She used to fall asleep after confirming my arrival. Sometimes she used to ask for a glass of water or some medicine she had not taken by then.
My dauthers always rebukes me for getting back home late at night. She always wants me to sleep till late in the morning to make good the sleep deficit. She is also a late riser on weekend days. But never fails to start for office as early as 7-30 am on five other days of the week. Like my mother she monitors me, my food, my movement and affectionately remainds me of, what appears in her eyes, my lapses.
After several months of my mother being with us at our Dhaka home, I realised she responds everytime I call ‘Ammu’ or ‘Maa’ or ‘Ammi’. Sometimes when she realised that I actually called my daughter she used to exclaim, ‘o, the other ‘Ammu, what Ammu? did she rear him up? clean linens when he was small?’
These were effectionate exclamations of my mother. All her life she had been a hard working lady. Decendent of a noble family in Daudkandi under Comilla district she was married to my father – a scholar resident student at the Moslem High School, Dhaka – at an early age after finishing upper primary centre examination with distinction.
Ours was an agricultural family and my father was the living eldest among his brothers. His elder brother had died after doing his graduation in engineering from the Ahsanullah Engineering College, Dhaka. The responsibility of looking after my three other uncles, two aunties, our grandmother and a large farm estate was on my father, and in turn on my mother.
My mother had made sure, all of us – ten siblings – went to the school only after learning the skills of reading and writing at home. It does not mean she had enought time to remain busy only with us. She had to ensure everyone else in the family, including regular farm workers, the Iman of mosque and the house teacher had their meals and other family care. Also whether the fruit bearing plants and home backyard vegetables, the pountry fowls were taken care of. Or was fish caught from ponds for the main meals.
Alongside discharging all her responsibilities of the joint family, she used to tend us, take care of our knowledge of surroundings, the alphabets and made time to tell us stories. Sometimes she used to become annoyed if we sought extra attention or care at the time of cooking or other important family work.
I recall one day my mother’s annoyance made me angry and I set off for my high school without taking food. My elder brother followed suit. None at the school knew we remained unfed. We were called by our ‘Pandit Sir’ at the leisure hour from our class room to the school office room where my farther had brought us food, cooked by my mother, in tiffin careers. The school was little over two kilometres away from our home, and my father came on foot carrying the food in his hands. My father died in May 2007, and my mother in February last year.
I have my small mom now who takes care of me. She is the second administrator at our home. Sometimes she supersedes her mother, my wife. But I miss my mother who used to joke at my small mom saying, ‘mom without any pain. How many times you have cleaned his dirty linen?’ Today my small mom has entered the operation theatre for a caesarean section as the time for normal delivery of her first issue has exceeded five days. May Allah bless her, my only remaining mom.