My mother. My father.
It wasn’t that my grandmother didn’t love her children. She did, most certainly and fiercely. It was that she became a mother at the age of 13/14, she had no mother as hers had passed away when she was a very small girl, and I am sure she suffered from intermittent explosive disorder. This is when a person becomes so angry that they black out and without even realizing it, they do violence to other people. Unfortunately and really heartbreakingly, my grandmother’s victims were her own children. By the time I came along, she was mild and loved me more than life itself. It is her love and my Ammi Khala’s, Fatto Khala’s, and my Ahmed Mamoon’s love and care that has made me as strong and as normal as I am. Truly it is. Without their love and care and adoration, I think I would have been a total basket case. Why you ask? Because even though my mother was never beaten, she must have internalized all the violence. She was not allowed to be beaten because my grandfather forbade it, because she was beautiful, intelligent and my grandfather’s favorite. So, she was never beaten. My mother was in Medical school in Bhopal, India, where my father, Shahid Kamal Pasha, (his real last name was Khan, but because his oldest sister loved Mustafa Kemal Pasha, she named him that) saw her. He was also from a princely family, the youngest of his siblings. They were from the family of the Nawab of Bhopal. He fell madly in love with my mother, and being the handsome, spoilt, young, entitled man that he was, he pursued my mother. In those days, as even now, there was no dating allowed, but my mother was far away from UP (United Provinces), where her home was, and they did sort of date. And against my mother’s family’s strong wishes, my mother and my father got married. Then I came along. I was born in Bhopal on June 30th, 1960. Apparently one of my lungs collapsed when I was just a few days old and I had to be hospitalized in those days’ version of the NICU. My mother’s Pediatric professor was my doctor and told her best friend, Saroj, that he didn’t think I was going to pull through. But pull through I did. I have had an enormous amount of strength since the day I was born! My mother had not graduated from Medical school yet, she was in 2nd year. So my grandmother took me to Karachi, Pakistan, where my whole family was moving. I lived with my grandmother, My aunt Liaquat, whom I called Ammi Khala, my Farhat Khala (khala means maternal aunt) and Ahmed Mamoon (mamoon means maternal uncle) for two blissful years. I was perfectly taken care of, I was adored, every need of mine was met. I don’t think they ever let me cry. Ammi Khala cared for me and loved me like I was her own daughter and I loved her as if she was my mother. They took pictures of me and sent them to my mother. In the meantime, my mother’s young marriage was not doing too well, and she and my father moved to Karachi after she graduated from Medical school. Of course she reclaimed me and life in paradise was over. My parents’ marriage deteriorated steadily. And by the time I was four years old, my mother started beating me mercilessly. She finally stopped when I was fourteen years old, when I lifted my hand as if to strike her, to protect myself. Finally, it took me TEN years to say “Enough, you can’t hit me anymore!” Oh I had black eyes, bloody lips, a bloody nose, black and blue marks all over from being hit with anything that came into her hands. Yes I did. And I know why she was doing it. She was spoilt, her husband was probably cheating on her, he didn’t have a job, she was angry that she had to work all the time to support us. She probably suffered from the aforementioned disorder (IED) and she had no one to take it out on except a defenseless young child. I hated her for a long time, I was extremely angry for a long time, but around the time I was in my early thirties, I forgave her. I decided to let it all go. With the help of one of my best friends, Deb, I truly forgave my mother and started loving her as a daughter should. I forgave my father as well. He had never stayed in touch with us since their divorce in 1965, I looked him up in 1999, and stayed in touch with him until he passed away a few years ago. They were people and people make mistakes. And anyway, they were not the same people in the 1980’s or 1990’s or the 2000’s as they were when I was a child, so how could I keep holding grudges against them? I couldn’t. After forgiveness comes love. Comes lightness, airiness, comes Grace. And all the mistakes I’ve made involving anyone, my beloved son and husband, my beloved friends, my beloved family members, I hope they will forgive me too, not only for my sake, but for their own sake as well.
Should I feel guilty about writing this down? I do. Even though it is my story, I feel like I am blackening my mother’s name and I really did love her very much. She was an extraordinary woman, an MD in India, when girls weren’t allowed to have any education, she sang well, she was a self taught gourmet cook. She loved Art, Music, Fashion, Architecture, Urdu Poetry, she was a remarkable woman and I did and do love her immensely. My story is my story and I think it needs to be told. Maybe the truth shall set you free…
Rest of the story, soon.