Happy mother’s day to my mum, who continues to inspire me with her tenacity. She is a fighter. She has fought major battles throughout her life and won. She is currently battling cancer. She was diagnosed with lymphoma towards the end of last year (2020). She has had a number of chemotherapy sessions and her treatment is ongoing. She has embraced cancer with a smile and patience that she has deployed throughout her life.
She fought poverty and won. When she married my father in the early 70s, my father was just a university graduate from a poor family in rural Bangladesh. He had no money. Job opportunities were very few and far between in Bangladesh at that time which had just become independent after a bloody nine-month war with Pakistan. Soon after, there was a devastating famine in the country. My father secured a job as a college lecturer. He left Bangladesh in the late 70s in search of better opportunities overseas. He worked in Algeria as a lecturer for a few years and then he moved to London around 1986. Meanwhile, my mother stayed in Bangladesh raising me and my five sisters.
My mother brought up six children all on her own. Between 1971 when my eldest sister was born and 1993 when my mother and my siblings came to live with our father in London, our father was away from us. Not through choice. He worked hard to give us a far better standard of living than the one he and my mother had when they were growing up.
Looking back, I can realise what an extraordinary job my mother had done looking after six children all on her own. She never complained once to my father. She always gave him the impression that everything was ok so that he did not worry about us being thousands of miles away from us. Actually, everything was ok because my mother managed things so well. We were well fed and well looked after. Above all, she instilled in us values that I hold dear to this day.
My mother’s life is a life well lived. Despite poverty and hardship in the early years of her life, she never complained and got on with living. She taught me to be grateful for the things we have. The way to truly appreciate what you have is to look at those who are less fortunate than you are, she taught me. For example, when you bemoan the house you live in, think about the millions around the world who are refugees and have no home. That’s when you appreciate what you ‘have’ rather than depressing over what you ‘have not’.
I love you mum. In our Bangladeshi culture, we don’t usually express our love in words but through action. But, I want you to know how much you continue to inspire me every day.