Mums, they never fail to surprise us
Mums, they never fail to surprise us. A mother knows you are going to catch a cold much before you or the doctor has a clue. She never frets over helping you pack your suitcase, even if you are 50. She is equally quick to pack her suitcase to reach out to you if the need be. They’re the same the world over; an emotional fact that I came face-to-face (once again) recently.
It was 11 am on a Saturday when I met Amrita (name withheld), a house help, in the elevator of the building I live in. The spring in her step suggested little about her age (she is in her 50s, I learnt that later), her newly-arrived status in Dubai, homesickness, or the exhaustion that comes with a new job in an unfamiliar setting.
From her black handbag, she took out a notebook and started to dial a number. Someone had scribbled down important phone numbers, directions from how to reach the apartment from the nearest Metro station, etc, in the book. She informed her employer that she’s made it back, safely and will be there in a few minutes. Elevator conversations start with overhearing other people’s phone calls, and so did ours.
“You’re new in Dubai?”
A month-old in this city of dreams.
“Where are you from?”
Mumbai, a city, she called home since she got married 29 years ago. Her husband and daughter are still there.
“So, what brings you here?”
And in the answer to it, I met up a mum, who packed her life for decades in boxes and landed in Dubai to make the dreams of her young daughter come true. The daughter is currently pursuing a course in filmmaking in Mumbai, and if the mum can make enough money, she’ll be headed to the US for further studies and training.
“Most literate Indian parents, until date, snub the idea of their kids pursuing a career in a creative field; it doesn’t bring in money, they remark.”
Amrita’s English is limited to words like ‘thank you’ and ‘good morning’, she confesses; and then just in the same breath, she tells me her daughter is studying various subjects — editing, shooting, choreography, writing, etc. She uses her hands (actions) to help me understand the words she feels she is pronouncing or recalling incorrectly.
“It’s wonderful. If she has your energy and spirit, she is bound to go places.”
Not places, she corrects me, to ‘Follywood’ (Hollywood) in ‘Loss Angeles’ (Los Angeles).
“Did you speak to your daughter recently? She must be overwhelmed with your hard work and decision to move here.” Her employer has put an app for her so that she can call her anytime. The daughter will turn 20 in October.
“You are brave, living here alone. Do you feel scared about sending her so far to study?”
No. She is an independent girl. She spent a few weeks in the US as part of an interviewship… er, internship.
“Good luck to you.”
Amrita smiles, warmly. She tells me God’s been very kind, “It’s not just her dream, you know. It’s my earnest wish and dream as well.”
Here’s a mother who has stepped out of her home country, India, for the first time, to provide for her daughter’s education. Here’s a land which allows you to realise your dreams. And then here’s the respect and love that fills up your heart each time a mother, in the most unassuming and straightforward way, shares how far she is willing to go for the love for her children.
This piece was first published in Khaleej Times.