“I was so busy when you were young, I could never give you much time, and I feel so guilty,” she was telling me one day. Being the only child, I have become even closer to my mother ever since Papa’s sudden demise. Since I was little, my parents had tried to provide me with the very best of education. Papa’s government-scaled income alone was unable to support my studies for elementary and high school education at Scholastica, that is when my mother started taking her teaching job more seriously, but there used to be a time when she catered to supply lunch at the English medium school she still works at.
In addition to taking care of me, she would wake up at dawn and start preparing supplies, get ready herself, walk me to school, and take a bus ride carrying a large heavy bag that had containers of different sizes with food in them wrapped in foil paper. Having said that, she is an excellent cook.
Usually, I would come home from school, have the lunch that she had already prepared for me, and maybe take a nap while Maamoni would be designing dresses at a boutique which she co-owned in order to earn some extra cash, every bit of which was useful as I eventually required coaching for my education. A little would be saved when my father was in Dhaka since he would teach me, but that would be a rare sight considering army postings are usually at the most rural regions of Bangladesh.
Moving on, there were times she would come back home, all tired and drenched from the rain since she never seemed to have an explanation to why she couldn’t take a rickshaw from the nearby bus stand. She had probably thought of saving the fare since she would have to get home and freshen up anyway. Then why bother spending a little for shelter from the rain?
My parents got married and had me at such a young age that I could hardly enjoy government facilities from my Papa’s job since he was not a senior official, at least until things were gradually taking a turn during my A Levels.
Papa was not only posted in Dhaka but promoted to a full Colonel, a VIP and that is when we got a full-time flag stand car from the military. On the other hand, Maamoni was fortunate enough to get into a private television channel as a presenter, specifically Randhan Shilpi, and Papa went for a UN mission to Sudan while it was time for me to join a university.
The middle-income, humble life never seemed to have made them unhappy. Their relationship started out with love, and their marriage was not only beautiful but their smiles were so telling that the couple would receive enormous compliments as to how good they looked together. Papa and Maamoni had literally grown up together. The Bangladesh Army even punished Papa few days after their marriage, for tying the knot 4 years prior to the army’s required age of 26, and it would always be a negative point for him every time the promotion board would have sat.
When things, financially or otherwise, began to stablise a bit, that is when my mother and I experienced the worst. We seemed to have nothing else left in life – the BDR Pilkhana tragedy killed Papa and 56 other valiant officers of the Bangladesh Army. Till now, the wounds remain fresh, and even after 5 years, have yet to heal. The second phase of struggle for Maamoni began, and this time she smiles no more. My mother lived apart from my father for years in Dhaka just for me. She had to struggle all her life just to give me the best she could and now she can only go down the memory lane, the beautiful days she had spent with my father since the brutality took him away from her. I just look back and blame myself, what would have happened if I just went to a country-side school? Why did she sacrifice so much for me? At least she would be able to live with the love of her life for longer.
Maybe these days she is quite a known face in her field, appearing at so many television channels, including “Lobbi-r Rannaghar” on BTV, newspapers and magazines feature her as “Lobbi Rahman – the Kitchen Queen of Bangladesh,” and by the grace of God, her own earnings now bring bread to our family of two, but I realise that she can never get back her days, days she could have possibly been so much happier but she had let it all go just for me.
Simply thanking her would never be enough. The lady, surprisingly, does not even have any expectations from me. She only addresses her sacrifice as her duty. I would never be able to pay her back, in fact I have no idea how to. I never could say it to her, but my love and respect for her goes beyond measuring; in fact, as much as my gallant, martyred father, who had made the same sacrifice.
Well Happy Mother’s Day Maamoni, please consider this write-up as your gift since it perhaps conveys my feelings more than I practically tend to show or say. I love you for being the most wonderful, talented, caring, understanding, and supportive mother one can possibly be.