Earliest Memories of my Mother
I spent the earliest days of my life living in a very small Dhok, Basira near a small village Mustafaabad in the Soon Valley. I was born there, at home, without any trained medical person in attendance or nearby. During the next five years we moved back and forth between army cantonements and Basira. Abbajee was gone most of the time, so Ammanjee was the care taker.
My fondest memories are from Basira.
I would wake up very early in the morning to the sound of the Chukee, with my mother grinding wheat into flour. When she was done with that, she would go milk the cow(s). One of my cousins or uncles would then come to take the cows to the hills for grazing. Meanwhile my mother would get busy with churning yogurt into “lussie”, “udh ridka” and butter, and then prepare breakfast for us. The sounds of the Stone wheat grinders and later yogurt churning coming simultaneously from 10 to 15 homes in the Dhok, are a fond memory that often still ring in my ears.
My mother was a simple and loving person. Later when we moved more permanently to the cantonements, she still lived with the same values. We used to spend our summer vacations in the village, and even though she was now the wife of an only army officer within several miles of the village, she would transition seamlessly into her role described above. Plus now she became the defender of the right to respect of all the poor and the “excluded” members of the society, and the care taker of the less privileged members of the family.
Meanwhile back in the cantonments, she took care of all of us, and any members of the extended family that had moved to the city, mostly through my father helping them find jobs there. She prepared all the meals herself. The “workers” who serviced the family ate the same meals that we all did. But they were served the meal before Abbajee, and the children. She did not want the family helpers to serve us any food with empty stomachs.
I spent lots of my younger days away from my family, because my father would periodically get posted to places where there were no “good schools”, so as I grew older to be able to learn more from and about her, I could not make enough time for it.
Three of my sisters died very early, miles away from any meaningful health care facility, and became part of the high IMR statistics of Pakistan. She rarely spoke of these experiences, and I was never smart enough to ask her about how she felt about it. But deep down, I know she suffered immense pain.
And I know even today, millions of my mothers, sisters, and daughters are suffering the same pain, all over the world.
Dear friends, that is why I live my life the way I do, and that is why there is an HDF, trying to end this pain.