Balancing act ~ 2

Last night I encountered a gray African parrot  at a friends place. The parrot belongs to his father, who is a bird aficionado, and Raju, the African gray, has been around for many years. I walked over to his cage for a closer look and he immediately bristled and turned away, wary of newcomers, but I whistled to reassure him of my friendliness.

His feathers settled down and he slowly turned around to inspect me with an unblinking birdy eye, head cocked to one side. Then he whistled back. I whistled again. He whistled too.

‘Hello birdy,’ I said.

‘Hello!’ said Raju.

‘Helloooo….’ I repeated, stunned.

‘Hellooo!’ said Raju.

Needless to say, I would have been quite content to hang with Raju the remainder of the evening, shooting the breeze, but etiquette demanded I socialize with my human friends. I’m told Raju does a great imitation of friend’s Dad, repeating an idiosyncratic phrase in his exact voice, calling out to the chowkidars loudly,  ‘Javaiiiiiid…..’…..’Mukhtiaaaaar….’. He also greets everyone with a chirpy ‘Good morning’ every day.

I had a cup of very good coffee, as a result of which I had trouble falling asleep. (This is the first time I actually put two and two together)

Consequently, I woke up later than usual. Huz said he woke up during the night and heard me making strange purring sounds as I slept and he wondered what I was dreaming of. It was so weird to be told I was doing something I was completely unaware of doing. He was so amused.

Amu has been agitated of late. I watched as she paced the rug yesterday, going in circles as she followed the border pattern.

‘Have you ever considered that I might actually really need to see a therapist?’ she asks.

‘Nonsense, therapists are useless. I can do a better job of sorting you out,’ say I, the bird whisperer.

We sat on my bed and talked for an hour, girl to girl. Turns out I’m not the only one with friend woes in this family. Turns out I’m not the only one who over thinks things and drives herself crazy. And apparently she is just like her mother, tears spilling over as she gets emotional.

My concern for Amu’s emotional well-being is visceral. If she is troubled, I am troubled, as simple as that. No one gave me a handbook for parenting an only kid. When I was growing up, I didn’t seek out my mother to confide in or discuss my problems with…..I had my sisters. Apparently people who have sisters tend to be happier and more optimistic, simply because of the connection they feel when they talk. Sometimes I feel crushed when I think that Amu’s long-lasting happiness and optimism have been sabotaged, because we didn’t provide her with any. It is a sadness I carry around with me.

Not a lot of people I know can understand the intensity of the balancing act I do, trying to be both mother and sister.

The good thing is, Amu talks to Huz too, albeit of different things. We hang together as a family. That doesn’t mean Amu isn’t a moody, broody teenager, but I’m pleased to report she isn’t closed off to us, just because we’re parents.

I tell Amu to keep calm and eat chocolate. I know she doesn’t like chocolate, but I wish she did. I had made hot cocoa the other night and it sure had a therapeutic effect on me.

Sometimes I wish I was less goofy and weird, but it is the idiotic things I babble that make Amu giggle. As for me, I just felt absolutely relieved to see the clouds on her head dissipate. She bounced off the bed and ran off to scribble things in her diary. Later that night, as we were driving to aforementioned friends place, I heard my phone beep. There was a text message on it that said, ‘I love you loadz nice parents of mine.’

Mother’s Day, in retrospect.

So yesterday was Mother’s Day and here’s my two-bit for what it’s worth.

There’s been a flurry of posts and related articles, not to mention radio shows and TV shows on the subject…people debating whether or not said day should be celebrated. Some glorify their mothers and quote sappy sayings ad nauseum, declaring their love for all the world to see or maybe they’re just saying it cos’ everybody else seems to be doing it. No doubt they mean it too!

It started a few days ago when everyone began changing their profile pictures on Facebook to one of their mom’s. It was kinda weird to see a woman’s picture with a man’s name next to it. Those of my girl friends who look a lot like their moms left me confused for a second, but not to be left behind, I hopped on to the bandwagon and put up a picture of my Mummy. It was fun! I ended up confusing a lot of people too 🙂

It’s true though, all my adult life I have had people exclaim and tell me how much I look like a younger version of my mother. It’s rough hearing things like that when the last person you want to turn into is your mom. *mock horror*

When you’re one of four daughters, every one of you will have a different relationship with your mother. My eldest sister has the dubious honour of being the firstborn, hence has all the personality traits that go with being the eldest sibling. My youngest sister was born 12 years after the first and has, true to tradition, always been a brat. The middle two, of which I am one, didn’t know what was expected of them so we played it safe and behaved like middle children should. Reasonably. But all my life I have been accused of being my mom’s favourite, maybe cos’ it slipped out of the horse’s mouth one day. The biggest manifestation of being the favourite was being home-schooled for the first six years of my life. The Montessori system had just been introduced in Karachi and Mummy got to learn of the methods of teaching. Don’t ask me how. She just did. I hear she made a lot of flash cards and stuff and proceeded to experiment on my brain. If only I had known what she was up to, I’m sure I would have felt like a guinea pig. Sadly, I have no recollection of all the trouble my mother went through to teach me alphabets and words using pictures, but perhaps it was a result of her efforts that I fared better at school than my predecessors. 😉

When we were growing up, we didn’t get showered with hugs or kisses. We weren’t a very touchy feely family. We were fed and clothed and bathed and de-flead and put through school and could do whatever the heck we wanted, as long as we allowed ourselves to be dragged to the masjid and agreed to pray namaaz and read the Quran.  Mom was always busy cooking in the mornings and always had hot meals waiting for us when we got back, ravenous, from school, after which she pretended we didn’t exist and set to work with demon-like determination on all her various pursuits, only taking a break from it if one of us needed a haircut. Or a birthday party.

But to get back to Mother’s Day, I really don’t see why anyone would NOT want to celebrate it. There are those who say things like ‘oh, mothers should be made to feel special every day, not just one designated day a year.’ What a load of crock.

The fact is, NO ONE makes their mother feel special every day. We take our moms for granted. That’s just how we roll, my friend. It’s the nature of the relationship. Goes with the territory, like it or not.

I love my mother, always have, always will, and I’m not ashamed to say that I feel rather silly saying it. Because THAT goes with the territory too. My mother is opinionated and is extremely good at getting her own way, and she bugs the hell out of me most times. That’s the reality of it. As for all that she has done for me all my life, I can’t really say I feel grateful. I just feel entitled! That’s what parents are SUPPOSED to do! It’s give and take really. Kids give parents the pleasure of their company, parents take care of the kids. It’s win-win all the way. Imagine how lonely our parents would be if we weren’t there. Actually, it’s US they should be grateful for! There should be a day for US!

Seriously though, it’s only after getting married and having her own family that a woman realizes just how much she must do, and how thanklessly. We’re basically unsung heroes, even if I say so myself (on behalf of all mothers.) I shall leave the specifics to your imagination. (Hint: think…1) pregnancy/labour; 2) diapers; 3) cracked nipples. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg.)

So my point is, by all means, be good to your mothers. Love them in your own way, whether you hug them or not, declare your love, or not. You don’t need me to tell you that, so I’ll shut up. But I’ll tell you this. Mother’s day is here to stay. So If you don’t do something specifically nice for her that day, it’s bound to hurt. Don’t underestimate the power of a present. Something you just KNOW your mother will love. It may just be a token, or it may be just another thing you do for her amongst the other things you do for her all year round. But why ignore the celebration of it, just because you’re against the principle of it? Being against a principle is a principle too. And it’s just idiotic. Does that sound opinionated? I can’t help it, I get it from my Mom 😀