Monday, June 17, 2024


Dhaka Tribune

An open letter to Maa

Update : 10 May 2015, 12:25 PM

Dear Maa,

Whether or not your children remember you today, the corporations won’t forget you. Expect to be bombarded with packaged spa deals, customised restaurant meals, discounts, and special offers wherever you go (conditions apply, naturally).

The media won’t forget you. There will be talk shows, concerts, interviews, and, of course, ads. Or maybe your kids will remember, and your smiling face will take pride of place on their Facebook profiles for 24 whole hours, while they shout out to the world how much they love you.

And why shouldn’t they? Yours is, without a shred of doubt or ounce of irony, one of the hardest jobs in the world. No downtime, no vacations, no benefits -- you have been on call, round the clock, since before your kids were born.

The sacrifices you make cannot be denied. And after your invaluable contributions towards your family, and to society as a whole, the very least you deserve is a little celebration of you.

And so, today, the card companies will wish you, the RJ on the radio will wish you, and the magazines will wish you a Happy Mother’s Day. And along with their wishes, I have a few of my own.     

I wish you confidence in your self-image, and comfort in your own skin. After all, your daughters watch and learn from you. Even before they discover beauty magazines and Disney princesses, they take their cue from you.

So, when you are fretting about your weight or complexion, they absorb your insecurities and develop their own. This is not to say that grooming and fitness aren’t important -- of course you want your children to be healthy and presentable where it counts.

But let your daughters learn that they are so much more than the shade of their skin and the breadth of their hips. May your sons also learn from this, and not treat the other women in their lives as pretty little trinkets, but as people.

I wish you the courage to speak out and demand more for yourself and to allow your children to do the same. Maybe you chose to stay at home to take care of your family. Maybe you chose to carve out your own career.

All parents have hopes and dreams for their children, but children have aspirations of their own that deserve to be honoured. May your sons never be forced to give up subjects they have a passion for in favour of “safe” degrees that guarantee them a job.

May your daughters never have to choose between careers and marriage -- the two don’t have to be mutually exclusive.

I wish you keep an open mind that doesn’t judge the children of others. Maybe your neighbour’s unmarried daughter is coming home late because she really does have to stay at work late. Maybe that boy accompanying her to the door really is ensuring that she gets home safe.

Above all, Maa, I wish you strength, because whenever your sons get caught in the act of perpetrating such atrocities as they did during the Boi Mela or Pohela Boishakh, someone else’s son swears similar retribution on you and your daughters.

You’re the one who taught us our first words, held our hands as we took our first steps, and helped shaped our values. If things are to change, as they must, if you want your children to be safe and happy and upstanding human beings, the change must begin with you. Happy Mother’s Day. 



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