Mother’s Survival

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cropped-Arabic-Logo-1.png‘‘Fatima! please eat, please eat my child, your mother needs you. I love you. I love you more than anything else in the world, please eat and I promise you on my life, I’ll do everything you want me to do. I will always be by your side, always be there for you’’

Mother’s Survival

Dear Readers,

Please, find below one of our real stories. This in particular is one of the most difficult stories to write. Some details have been left out and few things have been changed to protect the people concerned. Please note, this story is not subject to criticism and would be highly expedient that we accept the stories for what it is. It’s a real life story with underlying pain and courage.

 

Mother’s Survival

 

Anyone can hide. Facing up to things, working through them, that’s what makes you strong.

Sarah Dessen

 

Walking Park 22

At that certain time, many years ago, I looked at my daughter getting ready for her Medical College. She’s in her Third Year of MBBS. She securely tied the head scarf around her neck as she turned around to smile at me. She asked me if her look was okay. Perfect! I replied.

She took her breakfast and thanked God. Immediately as she was ready, I walked her to bus stop and didn’t leave till she was safely on college bus to her destination.

 

This was my daily routine, once my daughter returned late in the afternoon, I had to keep up my promises to simply remain by her side always. She’s my only surviving child right now and I owe it to her. I owe her love and care. Few years back I nearly lost her to a fatal disease called anorexia. We were very fortunate that she was quickly diagnosed and made a full recovery. The recovery was only made possible with love and the feeling of security that both me and her father showed her we made her confidence and recovery quicker with love than we loved and cared for any other persons in our lives.

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I walked back home with tired feet. Alhamdullilah.

Hoyuse

Next I woke my husband. It was time for him to take his medication. I served him breakfast, chatted with him and cleaned the house after which I went downstairs to help my mother-in-law with her chores. My daughter loves me so much love that she can’t stand seeing me shed a single tear. She hates the way I am being treated in the extended family.

 

My daughter’s anorexia.

I married at a very tender age, a very little girl. I was a child bride. I got married to a man who was nearly two decades older. I am illiterate and only studied till the 5th standard. I have many brothers and sisters. Money was always an issue. We never had enough. We survived solely on what my father earned and what we harvested.

When a proposal came from my father’s sister who lived in the city from, he accepted without any objection. The age wasn’t a factor to be considered and the fact that the future husband suffered mental illness wasn’t seen as a factor that ought to be looked into. His mother said that after marrying a wife, his health will be restored.

I entered the large family. My husband’s unfortunate and precarious situation was a challenge, it never left me intimidated however. He made me feel special and favoured. This single act didn’t go well with everyone in the house and they often ban him from spending his time with me. The attitudes I received culminated into jealousy that whenever he bought me a gift, he would always be questioned for it and blamed for not buying for his sisters. This is how first year of marriage fled by and somehow I was content, till I became pregnant. All my worries melted away with little Fatima. She was a perfection and things changed.

My daughter’s name is Fatima was a clingy baby. Her father adored her.

Due to my husband’s situation, there were days that the voices in my husband’s head would get very demanding. We feared those days. Some days he would go out of the house and not come back for weeks.

At having the knowledge of my predicament, my mother held to the belief that if a woman bears a son she becomes prominent in the family, things were going to change. They’ll have no choice but to treat her better and earn respect and dignity. I will always have a say in every matter. So she pestered me into having a son.   I had a strong wish and an outrageous desire for a son. I was then blessed with a son.

So when my little Hassan arrived, I soared high, high into the sky. The pride, the glow on my face. His complexion was fair, he was so beautiful, and every one approved it.

In this pride the first 9 months flew by. I was more devoted to him than my daughter. I started dreaming of seeing my son grow up so quickly so we can move out and have our own house and lives to ourselves.

In this rush of happiness, I didn’t realise how my husband was nearly missing all the time, he was always with his mother and sisters. I didn’t realise how quiet Fatima was becoming and how the work load increased in house. I didn’t mind. My plan was take Hassan and Fatima and escape to a local park.

pakistan-sun

 

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One time, my husband went away for few days. He always had plenty of money to take off to one of his ventures. We were expecting him back days later, but he came home five days early. He didn’t look the same. He was muttering and mumbling and kept on snapping at us. He wanted Hassan in front of him. It scared me, I don’t know why, but it scared me. He kept on pushing Fatima to one side. That night something happened to my heart.

The next morning, I woke up early with a chilling. I checked on my children and my extended. Everyone seemed fine.

I dropped my daughter at school and came home and started cleaning the house. Hassan wasn’t due up for another hour.

All of a sudden something snapped in my mind. I didn’t know what made me go on a mad spree looking for him. He wasn’t in his bedroom. I started calling out on him and my husband said,

‘Don’t worry, he’s with me’, we are upstairs’.

He told me to make his breakfast in a stern voice. After thirty minutes he came down without my son with him,

‘Where’s Hassan’? I asked him.

He’s resting, ‘where?’ I asked him. ‘Upstairs’. He started eating his breakfast.

I don’t know what made me dash upstairs. The room upstairs was dark. My heart sank. I don’t know why but I started shaking, something wasn’t right.

‘My God, have mercy’. I prayed.

I opened the door. I couldn’t see a thing. It was very dark. I could smell something strong.

‘Hassan’ my voice quivered.

I was in hysteria, Hassan my child, Hassan, he wasn’t on the bed. And then I saw blood on floor and I screamed.

I screamed and screamed and ran out. ‘What did you do’, ‘what did you do’. I screamed at a man eating his breakfast. ‘What has to be done’, he said in calm voice.

Like a mad woman, I lashed out at him and then went out on the streets, screaming and asking for help. It was too late, Hassan was gone. My husband had killed him in a very cold manner.

I lost consciousness and when I gained it back, my world had had a drastic changed. I saw myself in the village with my father. I stopped eating. Fatima 9 years old at that time also stopped eating. She was watching everything and taking everything in.

Village 3

My husband was in prison, in agony and in pains. His relatives came one after the order begging me to consent to his release and I heeded to their wish. He came home and I went back to him with Fatima like a dead lifeless doll and I continued very silently with deadpan expression with my duties. My sister in law also moved in, I started taking care of her children as well.

When Fatima was 14 years old that things really changed. I would have continued with this slave labour and this life till I was invited by her teacher back in.

‘’Your daughter looks very pale. Fatima kept on fainting. She was always exhausted’’.

Seriously, ask me, I would say she was ok.

I took my very quiet and non-demanding daughter to doctors and there they told us she was severely underweight. That was when I realised that things were not normal. Each time I brought her food and she wouldn’t eat. I had to take her out of school and her weight further dropped. She would look at me with a cold expression in her eyes and it all left me feeling very cold too. I carried the remorse but wasn’t just receiving.

Seeing her wasting away was a big blow to me. I blamed myself as many questions blew through my mind.

What had happened, what had I been doing since the past 5 years? I was so engrossed in my grief, in punishing myself that I forgot all about my daughter and husband. I simply broke away from them and busied myself with anything and everything that took my mind off the horror of what had happened to my Hassan.

Fatima was eventually hospitalised. At the hospital, we were referred to a child specialist and all of these got me strong lessons to life.

hospital

My daughter hated my servitude. She hated the fact I was always busy with my in-laws and taking care of them. She felt like being hated.

She refused to eat. For years she had been giving her food to her cousins. She would throw away her milk at night and in morning while I was busy spoon-feeding my sister in law’s daughter, she would leave the table hungry. I missed out on all that.

It was very painful to see my daughter being tied to sick-bed, two nurses holding her still, so we could get some food into her. It was painful and that night I saw my son in my dream, he was turning away from me, walking out on me. I had let him down, I didn’t take care of his sister. He was unhappy with me.

That morning, I changed. I told the doctor and the psychiatrist to tell me what to do, and I’ll do it. I stayed by Fatima’s bed as her weight dropped further. She wouldn’t eat. She would look at me and would start crying.

And then I did what I should have done all her life. I cried in front of her.

‘‘Fatima! please eat, please eat my child, your mother needs you. I love you. I love you more than anything else in the world, please eat and I promise you on my life, I’ll do everything you want me to do. I will always be by your side, always be there for you’’

She didn’t respond, bending down I touched her feet,

‘’Please forgive me Fatima.’’

‘Mama, don’t’ she screamed. Her scream was higher and louder that we both screamed and cried.

We cried that nurses had to come and pry us away from each other.

TODAY

Fatima here’s your lunch.

‘Thanks Mama’,

‘How do?’ I look? She would ask;

‘’You look perfect’’.

Six years had passed. And I looked at my daughter. I waited patiently till she turned away from mirror to sit down in front of me to have her breakfast. I would always see her eat as she chatted away her experience during the day and her expectations. We discussed like friends, more like colleagues.

I couldn’t thank God enough. Alhamdullilah! She is well. It took months of hospitalisation missing out on full academic year of school for her to recover.

I had to do what Fatima wanted me to do. Loved her like she is the most important person in the world and love myself as well. I was no longer allowed to serve my in-laws 24/7. Instead, I have my breakfasts with my daughter and when she returned from school. She simply wanted me by her side.

 

When she turned 16, she said, Mama I wanted Dad to move upstairs with us. And then she taught me this little girl about her father’s illness.

She told me how the illness had made her father commit that heinous crime.

She taught me many things.

I was so scared of her anorexia that I started to do what she wanted me to do. Go on walks with her, not work in my sister in law’s kitchen till midnight.

She hated their treatment.

pakistan-jogging

She’s now in her third year of medical studies. She wants to be a doctor. She studies very hard. Sometimes, tell her to mix in with my in-laws. I know she’s willing but some wounds and scars take years to heal.

Her dream is for us to have our own little abode one day and she wants to be proud of herself. She’s so focused on the goal that anorexia has no room.

I love making her feel special and I’ve been doing that for past six years now. I wake her up with a kiss on her forehead, I do everything for her and in return she kisses me, hugs me, and tells me everything will be fine.

She tells me every day, ‘Mama I love you’.

Her father is now more stable, we see his illness for what it is and we do our best by him. He struggles. The memories haunt him. He’s an outcast. But He loves me and his daughter.

I walk her to bus stop.

She still wonders about the harsh treatment we endure;

‘’What Mama! how do you do that, have so much patience with everyone. You never say a word. Look how they still treat you.’’

She told me with tears in her eyes.

‘’It’s ok’’. They make me so angry. I just wish for them to disappear. Forgiveness is the key my child. We need to have a clean heart. God is the healer.’’

I tell her.

Once she’s safely on bus, I walk back home slowly. Tired.

How can I tell my daughter, my heart died alongside her brother Hassan?  How can I tell her nothing affects me anymore? The only thing that hurts me is seeing her in distress and memories of her brother brings tears to my eyes. Everything else doesn’t matter. How I am maltreated, berated and used for others convenience doesn’t affect me at all.

My destination is my son and to get to my son, I’ve to cross many bridges. One bridge I’ve crossed is bridge of forgiveness and forgiving everyone. I’ve forgiven everyone and myself. God has made my heart silent. No ill feelings. I know my son is happy where he is.  I know Hassan is proud of me. Angels are looking after him and he’s waiting for me in heaven. If I do everything right, one day Allah will reward me with a meeting with my son.

I still feel guilty. I wish I could spare my daughter that pain. I wish I was more careful with her; how it hurt her as a little girl how I neglected her. I wish I had stood up for myself and spared her the trauma of seeing what I was going through with my in-laws. when she saw how her mother was treated, mocked and abused. She took it all in. However, I can’t believe how far she has come. Her confidence is high, she’s a strong girl now. She gives so much love to her father. She’s united us all.

I ask you only for one thing, please, keep my daughter in your prayers.

 

 

 

 

 

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About Author

Islam and Eating Disorders founded in 2012 – run by Maha Khan, the blog creates awareness of Eating Disorders in the Muslim world, offers information and support for sufferers and their loved ones.

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