Mama

My mama, my hero.

The child

I want to dedicate this post to my mama. Today, as I look at her, it takes me back to everything she has ever taught me and how her perseverance has paid off. Her academic education came to an end in her early teens as she was required to maintain the household whilst my grandfather went out to work in the sugarcane fields and my grandmother sewed at home. This wasn’t a unique scenario in villages in Mauritius. She was required to learn how to cook, clean and maintain a household in order to, one day, look after a family of her own while her future husband worked. She never felt like she was able to push herself academically so she worked to her strengths and improved her skills as a future housewife. Throughout her childhood, she was often criticised for not being a quick learner and not having a full education. Unfortunately this knocked her confidence and resulted in her creating limiting beliefs.

The wife

In keeping with the tradition and customs of Mauritius, my grandparents introduced my father to my mother with the intention of an arranged marriage. They got married in September 1984 and moved in to my paternal grandmother’s house. This was the first time my mama was out of her comfort zone. She had transitioned from living with her parents and sister to now living with her new husband, in-laws, her new husband’s brothers and their wives… all under one roof! My dear grandmother, the matriarch, was very strict on her daughters-in-law. She would compare their cooking and cleaning skills. This was her way of pushing them to achieve their best. She was completely unaware of the negative effect this had on their self-confidence. My mother quite enjoyed styling her hair and wearing pretty dresses, but this was forbidden in this household. According to the matriarch’s rules, the daughters-in-law had no reason to waste time styling their hair or wearing make-up. Suddenly, my mother found herself feeling confined and limited.

The mother

Within a year she was pregnant with me and I was her ticket out! My parents had decided to move out and rent a small flat to bring up our family. This flat was a fraction of the size of the previous house, but my mama felt as free as a bird. They didn’t have much so my mama sold the few jewellery items she had to raise some money for their new home. She would wash all the clothes with her bare hands and cook on her tabletop stove; all whilst I lay in a box beside her. As she still reminds me today, I was a very hungry baby and she had to feed me 2 bottles of milk each night so that I would fall asleep! My father was a teacher so he would be out for most of the day and my mum decided to start sewing for local people to help financially. During one particular period, they had run out of money and one of her clients still hadn’t paid her, so she sent my father out in the middle of the night to go and ask them for the money so that they could buy milk for me and groceries. Not that she would admit this, but I can imagine my mum talking to me as a baby and hoping that I would never suffer any financial difficulty when I became a young woman.

In my early teens, my mother was determined for her daughters to have their own minds and their independence. She didn’t teach us how to cook or clean. Instead, she taught us that we needed to get good grades at school and achieve our dreams.

moms

The student

When we moved to the UK, she was so blinded with the intention of doing the best for her daughters’ future, that the thought of not being able to have a conversation in English didn’t stop her. This was her first big step out of her comfort zone. When she realised that she would need to work in order to make a living, she never showed any fear or hesitation. At the age of 38, she decided that she needed to go back to school and learn to speak English. She knew that giving up was not an option and the only choice she had was to find a solution. When I would return home from school, we would sit together and help each other improve our English.

She knew that she would no longer be a housewife and that she was doing things which go against the traditions and customs which she had been used to. She realised her independence and this excited her. She learnt how to travel around London on her own and how to buy things in the shop. She learnt that using the internet would help her increase her knowledge, so she taught herself how to use a computer. She is now able to navigate through the internet and open her mind.. This may all sound very simple but this was just the start of her spreading her wings. Nowadays, she travels to different countries every year. She is not concerned about being anywhere out of her comfort zone.

The therapist

She would always tell me that I was her beautiful daughter. It wasn’t until I started going to secondary school in the UK that I realised that I didn’t fit the ‘beautiful’ mould. As a teenager, I was becoming aware that my beautiful friends at school were getting attention from the opposite sex but I didn’t seem to have such luck. I was the ‘geek.’ I remember getting home from school, sobbing and asking why I was ugly. I would ask my mum if there was something wrong with my face or if there was something wrong with me. Confidently, she reassured me that I would always be her beautiful daughter and I should be grateful that I am healthy. She asked me to have patience; she didn’t want me to be overly concerned with my appearance at such a young age.

When I wanted to go against our traditions and be independent, she stood by my side and supported every decision I made. When I made mistakes and fell hard, she reminded me:

‘After rain comes sunshine’

This simple sentence has helped me get back up on so many occasions. For me, it has a sense of optimism and gratitude.

beautiful

The hero

Today, as I look at my mama, I’m so proud to be her daughter. She taught me to always step out of my comfort zone. She held my hand into womanhood. She supported me when I made surprising career decisions. She sat by me when I cried with a broken heart. She laughed with me when I did something silly. She would get angry with me when we had disagreements but I hope that she knows that she will forever be my idol. Aside from the extreme, I don’t know many people who have demonstrated the courage my mama has. She didn’t read books on how to be a perfect mother and she didn’t have anyone around her to tell her how to bring up two strong daughters.

So maybe, just for following her heart and trusting her maternal instincts… she is my hero and the most successful person I know.

 

mama

5 Responses to “Mama

  • Nini i don’t know what to say , u make me realized where i come from and who i am now, it was a hard life, where i always encourage who felt down, this is an example , never give up, no matter what be happy to fight with life
    Mama………….XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX

  • H from what you have written you are very like your mum. Xxx

  • Fatima Mohammed
    1 year ago

    H, your writings have touched me on so many levels and reminded me of my late mother who at the age of 25 with 2 daughters aged 3years,me, and my sister 18 months left Cyprus to join my father in the UK. I do not remember the journey across the seas but my mother tell me that I was a very active and inquisitive child who often got in to trouble with the ships personnel. However, getting back to mum. She arrived in the UK with no understanding of English or the culture. She too must have bee out of the comfort zone, this never really occurred to me before now. She would travel around London and to and from work with ease or so it seemed. One day, I questioned her about how she knew when she had arrived at the place she needed to be. Why she said, ” I count the number of times he bus stops and at a given number I get off” Until now I never stopped to think how frightening it must of been for her given that she had come from a small, insular, village in Cyprus with little or no value for education. What strength of character she must have had to undertake such a journey I miss her so much.

    H thank you for pushing my buttons. Fay x

  • Fatima Mohammed
    1 year ago

    H, your writings have touched me on so many levels and reminded me of my late mother who at the age of 25 with 2 daughters aged 3years,me, and my sister 18 months left Cyprus to join my father in the UK. I do not remember the journey across the seas but my mother tell me that I was a very active and inquisitive child who often got in to trouble with the ships personnel. However, getting back to mum. She arrived in the UK with no understanding of English or the culture. She too must have bee out of the comfort zone, this never really occurred to me before now. She would travel around London and to and from work with ease or so it seemed. One day, I questioned her about how she knew when she had arrived at the place she needed to be. Why she said, ” I count the number of times he bus stops and at a given number I get off” Until now I never stopped to think how frightening it must of been for her given that she had come from a small, insular, village in Cyprus with little or no value for education. What strength of character she must have had to undertake such a journey I miss her so much.

    H thank you for pushing my buttons. Fay xx

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