“Behind my mother’s tears”

By Nur ‘Aadila Abdul Rahman

“Do you miss grandma?” I asked my mother as she sat at her favourite chair while looking out of the window. It was difficult for her to answer me but finally she uttered, “I never knew I could lose her. She looks so fine, so strong. Somehow I thought she was immortal that I could have her forever with me. But I guess Allah loves her more.”

It was early in January of 2017 when my grandmother passed away. It was the most tragic thing that has ever happened to our family. It was the most tragic thing that has ever happened to my mother. People might say “losing someone is never easy”. I say that seeing someone losing someone they truly love is harder.

My mother has three siblings. She’s the only girl in the family. She comes from a broken family where her dad left her mother undocumented for years and married another woman. She is the middle child between a brother and a younger brother. But her brothers were not always with her and my grandmother. My mother said, “My brothers would always be with their dad and I’m always left with your grandma.” This obviously explains the close bond she had with my grandmother.

My grandmother lived in a wooden house with my mother before she got married. “She was the strongest person I know. A single mother raising her daughter with her own hands without any complaint. Well, of course there was my uncle, but mostly grandma did it alone,” said my mother. For some reasons my mother said that my grandmother never wanted to marry another man, not because she hated a man, but because she’s comfortable living by herself with my mother.

My grandmother was a machine. She was the ‘man’ in the family as my mother explained. “She did many jobs back in those days. She was a farmer, she worked at my school canteen and also helped her brother harvest his palm tree.”

My grandmother worked hard to raise her children. I wrote “children” because sometimes her two sons would visit her. But most of the time, they’ll be with my grandfather. My mother looked up to my grandmother and wanted to be like her when she described, “she was my only role model, the one I looked up to – my superhero”.

“My love for your grandma is beyond words. When I was a child, I could not let her out of my sight. I would follow her around. I’ll always listen to her and never go against what she did not like.”

My grandmother was everything to my mother. A mother and a best friend. With a smile on her face she said, “She listened to every joy and sadness. She was always there when I needed her.”

My grandmother passed away due to a tragic accident. She was on her way to the clinic with my cousin. They were riding a motorcycle. Somehow, my cousin lost control of the motorcycle and they fell. A girl also riding a motorcycle, who came from the opposite side of the road, hit them. My cousin was lucky and escaped, but not my grandmother. “I couldn’t remember what really happened but I just knew that it was the worst day of my life,” my cousin, Faiz, told me.

“I remember the first time your dad told me the news, I couldn’t believe it. I thought it was just a dream until we drove there and it finally hit me that she was gone. She’s no longer alive. My mom, she’s gone.” My mother explained how she felt. She was in pain. She never knew the meaning of pain until she lost my grandmother. “It was the hardest thing for me to swallow, to accept the fact that she’s no longer here on this earth. I missed her.”

My mother was known as the most forgiving person in the family. She gets mad sometimes and gets over it immediately. She has the lowest ego and always apologises first even though it’s not her fault. I guess she acquired those values from my grandmother. “Your grandma was the most ferocious person I ever knew but she had the kindest heart. She would get mad at me if I didn’t get home in time or skip my prayers. But she would always make sure there’s food on the table for me even after she scolded me.”

The girl who was involved in the accident was a teenager at about 18 years old. She lives just a few blocks from my grandmother’s house. We never knew how she was or looked like. We just knew that she lives nearby but we still do not know which house was it. She never came to see my mother nor apologised. “I did not want to put charges on her because she’s just a girl. I don’t want to make a huge fuss out of what happened. Grandma is at a safe place now and that’s good enough for me. I just want to move on and focus what is still left for me.”

The incident happened early in the morning. Everyone was in a rush after receiving the news. My mother was quiet the whole time we were in the car. By the time we arrived there, my grandmother was already in the van ready to be driven to her house.

As painful as it was, my mother described her feelings for the first time she looked at my grandmother, “I remember the first time I opened the white cloth and stared at her face. I immediately closed it back because I couldn’t believe what I just saw. And then your aunt asked me to calm down and take a deep breath. After a few minutes, I opened it back again and there she was. She looked like she was asleep. Her face was pure and clean without a scratch on it. No blood, no bruise, nothing. She looked fine.”

When we arrived at my grandmother’s house, neighbours and cousins started to visit. My mother was all the time sitting beside my grandmother, who was laying in front of an old furniture, reciting Surah Yasin. She never left her side. “That moment I just wanted to spend my last day with her. I wanted to closely look at her so that I’ll always remember her. So that she would always be in my heart even when she’s not around anymore,” said my mother.

We spent the night at my grandmother’s house like we always do. It’s the only place we’ll hangout and spend our time whenever we went there.

“The first night was the most painful. I couldn’t sleep that night. I kept on waking up every five minutes thinking about her. Your dad had to calm me down many times and asked me to send my prayers for her. I completely lost it. It was too painful. Her face kept appearing in my mind. That night I just lost someone that meant so much to me. I felt like it’s over, I lost everything.” My mother was in pain that night. I could hear her crying in the middle of the night. As much as it was painful for her, it was painful for me to see her in that situation.

My mother was in pain for the few weeks after it happened. She is still in pain right now. She still cries after her prayer. Every time she talks about my grandmother, tears dropping from her eyes before she could even finish her sentence. “There’s not a day that she will not cross my mind. I miss her every day.”

My mother believes in fate and destiny as she explains, “I believe that everything happens for a reason. I know there’s a reason to all this but maybe I just don’t know yet.”

Despite that, she still recovers from what had happened. She spends most of her day keeping herself busy with the rest of the family. “I want to focus on my children and my family. I want to make sure they’re all happy.”

Now and then my mother will visit my grandmother’s grave twice a week. She will clean the area and recite Surah Yasin. “I still want to be a good daughter to her even though she’s not here anymore. I couldn’t do much for her like cooking or cleaning or even just make her smile. The only thing I could do now is just to pray for her.”

My mother describes the meaning of ‘mother’ as she said, “The definition of a mother to me would be everything. I ate, sleep, bathe and do everything with her. She’s everything to me. Of course, losing her is the hardest thing for me. But, this might be funny, because when I look in the mirror I see her. She lives in me. The only thing I want is, to be like her. I mean, I already have her looks. I wish I can be a great mother to my kids as she was to me.”

My mother sometimes wishes she could still have my grandmother by her side but as she said, “It would be a miracle if she could come back. But, I just have to accept that she’s gone and there’s nothing I can do to have her back. I love her, but God loves her more.” ***

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