MOM, WALIDA, MAA JI, AMMA
BY: Nusrat Osama
Reading the title some might think I was talking about four different mothers, but no, these are four different endearing names given to me by my own children. Since when they started calling me differently, I really do not remember. But it has been a way in my household that each of my four children has a different nomenclature for me; Mom, Walida, Maa ji and Amma, in the order of the caller’s position by birth. I find this a unique speciality. Interestingly, their spouses too have chosen to call differently, like Ammi, Mama, Mummy and Amma. As I look back and recall, I find the same unique speciality in their habits and behaviours as well. In their cell phone contacts they wrote a sentence instead of my name. Whenever I called Ashar the sentence ‘ghar kab aao ge?,’ on khawar’s phone ‘kidhar hain aap!’, and on Mehwesh’s cell ‘kahan ho?’, blinked with the ring tone.
The exclusive trait that set my children apart started quite early. My second child was born exactly after one year, on the same date and month as my first born. They both share their birthdays. The guests thought that we celebrated one birthday for the two children out of convenience; sometimes we even presented their birth certificates as evidence. However much the two detested, we had one party for both. The elder blamed the younger for spoiling his birthday; ‘couldn’t he come a week later or before.’ The seed of eternal sibling- rivalry was sown between the two.
My eldest was exceptionally good at mathematics; this quality was evident from his tender age of six. He could orally add big figures given at random in few minutes. We, the parents would proudly display this quality in front of guests. Both the children remained competitive throughout their student life. The elder being more conscious of winning in leaps and bounds, while the younger like the slow and steady turtle kept his even pace; But in the heart of hearts, there was a fear lurking as to who would achieve better marks in school exams each year. The fear came out in the open when the result of Matric exam of the younger was announced. I was offering fajar prayers; my elder son came and sat beside me and said, ‘Mom! Plz pray that Ashar has one mark less than mine.’
‘How can I do that, it won’t be fair.’ I said.
‘Mom please, just one mark.’ I looked at him and smiled, ‘let Allah decide.’
He went back and a moment later Ashar, my younger son, strode into the room. ‘Ammi please, pray that I get only one mark more than Athar.’ This was a tricky situation; both my children wanted an edge on each other and both were requesting me to pray for them. I gave him the same answer, ‘let Allah decide.’ When the result was announced, Ashar had one mark less than Athar. ‘Mom! Aapne dua mein dandi maar di.’ Ashar exclaimed; Allah had upheld his elder brother’s position. But seeing the statistics of their result it was difficult to judge who actually won. Athar had 756/850, Ashar had 755/850. Athar who was a wizard in maths was beaten by Ashar, who secured 100/100, while he had 99/100. Athar was placed 7th in the Science group and twelfth in the list of Merit whereas Ashar was placed 4th in the Science group and ninth in the merit list of the Federal Board.
With such close competition and result, Athar brushed his ego by saying that the standard of the Board was getting lower by the year.
But this is not the end of the story, my third child, also a son by the grace of Almighty, has a totally different stance in life; A street smart boy, good in everything but studies. Living under the shadow of two elder brothers, whose examples became a sore point in his school life, and a much younger sister who was the baby of the house, declared one day that ‘it is better to be a dog than to be the third son in the house.’ Although the age difference between the third and the second was only two years and the three could have been good friends too, but as the adage goes, two is a company and three is a crowd, the poor third child could not mix up with the older ones. His attention was thus focussed on bullying the little sister. The two became worst enemies and later best friends as they grew up. Though I am sure when they read this account of their mother’s saga, for a second the two will vehemently deny and in the next moment they will both smile secretly for the truth of it. I can dedicate a whole article to the life of my illustrious third child, Khawar, later perhaps.
While the youngest revelled and bloomed under the loving and forever affectionate eyes of her brothers and parents, she became closest to me when my nestlings flew away and the nest became empty. And Oh yes! I was talking about my children calling me by different names, my grandchildren too followed suit. I am DIDDA, DADI and GRANDMA to them.