Monday, May 11, 2015

A mother is just a human

My mother had one leg amputated - below the knee. We got her a prosthesis but she found it to be too heavy to swing around and the material too 'stuffy' for the stump, and so more often than not, she would wear the prosthesis but preferred to sit on the wheelchair.

I have memory flashes every time i see an old woman in a wheelchair or anyone with plastic limbs. I am getting old myself, and with osteoarthritis and slipped disc lurking by, i find myself on a wheelchair sometimes. Some days i would need a walking stick and i use hers. And so i am more and more reminded of her - or rather, her absence.

There are a lot of regrets - that i should have taken better care of her, that i should have empathised more, that i should be there for her more, that i should made it known clearer to her that she was loved.

Someone said, i shouldn't dwell much on the regrets and the 'could-haves' as such thoughts are futile. While that may be true, aren't regret and remorse part of the grieving process? That we need to bash up ourselves a bit, knock our senses real hard so it could feel again after the initial reaction of numbness. Perhaps, my grieving period is taking longer than it should. But i am not mourning a goldfish, it is my mother i mourned. Didn't my mother and i, once shared a lifeline? When i was born, wasn't i attached to her through that cord? Which point in that umbilical cord indicates where a mother ends and her daughter begins? Wasn't i a tiny live growing inside her imitating her heartbeat? And when i was born, wasn't i just an extension of her?

As a little girl, she was everything i wanted to be - there was no woman more beautiful than her (which explains why i played with her make up) and there was absolutely no other woman as knowledgeable as her. Her words were the fatwa, the law, that ended all but-mak i could ever attempted.  My mother was a perfect being, she was a mother, didn't she? Mothers to a kid, are exactly that - semi gods.

And as this little girl grew up, she began to notice that her mother was not the semi-god she thought her to be. I didnt know exactly when, but i started to see that she was getting old, and she couldnt really help me with my homework anymore. My mother was not sophisticated, she did not go to high school, she didn't speak English, and it turned out her knowledge and the rules she abide by were all hand-downs from her mother, who did not go to school at all. Without me realising this, mak must have fallen from grace. The elevated status accorded to her was stripped back, she walked amongst my siblings and i - a human being.

It was easier to love her when i stopped worshipping her. I loved her more reastically, and there were other feelings then too. Grateful, for she worked hard at making me achieve more than she did through her incessant drill of the importance to continuously seek knowledge and self-betterment. Grateful. She accomplished more than her illiterate mother. She wanted me to achieve more than her. Where would i be today without that drive in her?

And sympathy too, because she realised that the more knowledgeable her children get, the farther apart we would stray from her.  She opened up all opportunities of acquiring knowledge to us, knowing well the price.  Her authority in various subjects were reduced. The distance between her and her kids grew. Where would i be today if she kept me cocooned around her skirt?

Thanks to Malory Towers of Enid Blyton, I was itching to go to a boarding school. She let me. And so i left home at twelve.  After which there were the universities, then i couldn't get a job in Kluang (not that industrial then, not much opening for a fresh grad female engineer), and then marriage.  As i grew farther and farther away from her, never once did she ask me to come home and be near her. I could go wherever i wanted to, whichever way my ambitions took me.  She never complained. She was all encouraging - cheering me to go higher and further. Go realise your potential, she said, you can do so much, you can go so far.  She was never an obstacle that blocked my path. She was the gentle but persuasive wind that kept pushing me forward, so much so that i didnt turn back often enough to see how she was doing behind me.

I have my own children now - three of them are girls. I knew when i was worshipped. I can sense how i am beginning to take up a human shape in their eyes. And i know they are beginning to realise that i dont know everything, and Dato Seri Najib does not always report to me.  They can see how my waist has thickened and my hair kept on changing colours.

Despite the human form that i take, the limitation of my knowledge, and the long leash i will (eventually) allow them, i hope they wont forget that i was once their home.

I miss my mother. I would so much want to tell her all this even if it would only make her say, see, i told you.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

hugs, my love. She raised an exceptional child.

2:17 AM  
Blogger tallang said...


2:40 AM  
Blogger Naz in Norway said...


I love this post. So beautifully written.

3:36 AM  

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