My fingers feel a little bit unfamiliar today, yet typing on the laptop has been something that I have done incessantly for the past many years. Perhaps it feels a little strange because I haven’t written on the blog for a long, long time.
There was no time. No time to breathe deeply, or think, or even do a self-analysis. There was just the mad rush of meeting deadlines, doing the school runs and somehow making sure everyone was fed and watered and that uniforms didn’t sit in the laundry hamper for too long.
Now as my children attempt e-learning and I (unsuccessfully) try to tutor my little one, pretending to be a wonder mum, I can’t help but take stock of everything that’s happening. Sometimes I smile too much because I want to be positive and happy and spread good vibes around the house, sometimes I feel utterly depressed and (almost despondent) and wonder if anything I’m doing even makes a difference.
There’s a mountain of dishes at the sink and a half-finished cake batter sits on the counter, some of it splattered across the cooker. Crammed inside the fridge are a lot of grocery supplies to last us for more than a week (hopefully) and nestled on top are yellowed, over-priced flowers I’m hiding from my daughter. It’s her birthday you see, and I want it to be special, as special as it can be in the circumstances. I think wistfully of the hired help that would come in and make my house look less like a war zone. War zone. That’s exactly what it feels like right now.
As I send my husband off to work I wonder how can he go? Is it safe? And who knows how long the job will last? And is it even under my control? The realisation that so little is under my control dawns on me and I look upwards in a silent prayer. I fumble with my phone and realise that yet another friend has just lost her job.
As I scroll to my newsfeed I look away – the number of people infected by the virus is spiraling completely out of control. People are struggling and suffering around the world. I look outside the window and the road is eerily silent. Then a garbage truck shows up and a man dressed to the nines in protective gear empties the dump out into the truck. I bite my lip and think — that in fact is real risk and he’s doing it without a complaint. Why have I never been thankful? Is now the time to start?
I often think back to mum, and her indomitable spirit and her ability to give thanks in the hardest of moments. She passed away without witnessing these strange and uncertain times. I wonder what she would have said if she were here. She would have asked me to take stock of myself, of my life. She would have asked me to realise all the blessings I am surrounded with.
She would have told me to appreciate the roof I have over my head and enjoy the little things my children get excited about. She would have called my depression nonsense and she would have told me to get more productive and stop wasting time. Gosh, I realise I miss my mum. It’s been years since we lost her but it never gets easier.
The icing has gone completely runny and I have to admit my cakes usually look much nicer. But it doesn’t matter. She’s so happy. She loves the card I wrote.
As I finish the cake batter and ensure that the oven is hot enough I stop for a moment and think to myself — if there was ever a chance to prove myself, it is now. A voice inside me says something along the line of “I’m done!” but then as a lovely smell wafts from the oven I feel as though I will get through this after all.
It isn’t about living a perfect life in a perfect world — it’s about being the best you can be in a world that tests you. It’s easy to have faith when paycheques are fat and life is exactly as you want it to be, but isn’t now the time to truly submit to the will of my Lord? Isn’t this the time to ask forgiveness and give thanks and realise that the world is but a test?
“Surprise!” We all say together as she walks down the stairs. The icing has gone completely runny and I have to admit my cakes usually look much nicer. But it doesn’t matter. She’s so happy. She loves the card I wrote. The Pringles are hugely welcome too.
It isn’t a giant celebration or anything but it’s definitely very special. “Thanks Mum. The cake is delicious.” I steal a look upwards and stifle a tear as I finally, say thanks.
— Mehmudah Rehman is a Dubai-based freelance writer