Mission Maryam 2…

She lay on her back on the bed too scared to breathe. She had just put the fussing baby to sleep and she did not want to make even the slightest sound that could wake little Maryam, for she knew it would take her another half an hour just to get her to sleep again and then she would not have time to pray the Fajr prayer. Humph! Another day of joy, she thought sarcastically.

Before the birth of Maryam, Nasreen always prayed on time, and tried to stick to the ‘waqt’ time no matter where she was. Now, however, she barely managed to pray at all, let alone on time. Praying on time was one of those things that Nasreen valued dearly, so much so that she chose her husband, largely based on the fact that he too was very punctual about prayer. The idea of not being able to pray during the allocated time let alone praying at the beginning of the waqt was daunting. Is this what motherhood was about? How does a woman be a mother, a wife and a daughter and still nurture her soul? To Nasreen, it seemed improbable, if not near impossible!

“Allah hu Akbar, Allah Hu Akbar”

“Allah hu Akbar, Allah hu Akbar”

The sound of the athaan wrang loud in her home. Still trying to gather her thoughts together she knew that this was a special time to make dua’ for alleviation of her difficulties. But she was so tired the thought of having to make dua’ did not seem appealing. Instead Nasreen got up to make wudhu for the fajr prayer.

“Why don’t you make a dua this morning? You hardly ever make dua these days.” Yusuf asked her after the congregational fajr prayer. He liked praying at least one of the five compulsory prayers at home with his family.

“No,” she bit back. Her icy, short-clipped answer made Yusuf turn the other way. He made a dua’ and got up to get ready for work. immediately Nasreen regretted her actions, but she did not apologise.

The strain that she was putting on her marriage was enormous. She had never been this ugly person with him. why was she now? After all it was not his fault that she was having so much difficulty with Maryam. She wished she could hold him and tell him that she was sorry, that she loved him and she didn’t know why she was behaving like this. But she knew she wouldn’t. she didn’t trust herself to say what she wanted to. She wanted pity, she didn’t think she was able to be lovable at this point in her life. If she cannot even love her innocent baby as she deserves to be loved then how could she say those words to her husband?

After fajr the day seemed to drag on as if there was no purpose to it besides breastfeeding. Nasreen tried to stay at home and busy herself with chores, in between looking after Maryam but it all seemed so mundane to her. She frequently remembered the days of her university life, when she would be able to bask in the sunlight all day long, chatting and laughing with her friends about some nonsensical story one of them just told. Today she was remembering the times when she would be able to wake up in the morning and decide not to go to class but to the beach instead, or spend the entire day at a friends place watching Bollywood movies and crying her eyes out for the dramatic story-line. It was this memory that lingered at the back of her mind the entire day, and when Yusuf came home, she could not help but look at him as if he was the reason that she could not have that carefree life again.

Even though it was her idea to get pregnant sooner rather than later, she still wanted to blame him for taking away her youth. Because that was what it inevitably was: she was old now, like her mother-trapped in the house due to responsibilities. It was up to her now to make their house a house of peace and tranquility, as her mother had made her childhood home. She was the one who was supposed to see to it that the house was clean, good food was cooked, the children (in this case child) was bathed and dressed before the husband came home and that the day ran smoothly. It was her responsibility to check on homework, as her mother did, to keep tabs on teachers and schools, to make sure the kids are home before magrieb and to keep their development on track, not to mention teach them Quraan, salaah, fiqh and all the rest.

Just thinking about it, Nasreen made up her mind there and then that she did not want anymore kids. Allah willing, one is enough she thought.

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MISSION MARYAM

Depression settles in. She stares blankly at the bouncing babe on her lap; her tears welling, hair unwashed, unbrushed, unruly. “So, this is it? This is Motherhood,” she thinks aloud. There’s no adult ears around to hear her melancholic tone – no children even. Just Maryam, a 3-month old baby girl, barely able to stand on her own two feet.

Images vividly return to her mind – of a teenage girl on her bedroom floor, curled up in a ball-like creature. It was supposed to have gone away forever. Depression was supposed to be a thing of the past – an ugly nightmare, a forgotten thorny bush. But no, it had returned, and there she was – alone again, this time alone in the company of her brand new daughter.

When her husband asked her to wait two years until they tried to have kids, Nasreen was flabbergasted! The gynae said she had cystic fibrosis, and she did not want to wait like her sister did – and then have difficulty conceiving. Her sister had tried to have a baby for 3 years, and only with the help of fertility treatment, and of course lots of dua, she fell pregnant with a baby boy.

Nasreen wanted to stop contraceptives before the cysts got worse and affected her hormone levels, rendering it near-impossible to fall pregnant without treatment.

Two months of trying and boom – she broke the news to her parents; two months after her sister, Shahista, also gave their parents the glad tidings of the birth to be of Imaad.

Looking back, she remembers the happiness at hearing the news.

“How quickly 9 months goes,” she thought. Maryam’s shrieky squeal brought her time-travelling mind to the present.

“yes, how quickly life goes by,” she said half smiling at Maryam.

Maryam returned the smile with her dark black eyes. They were pretty eyes with long eyelashes, like her father’s. she remembered that it was those eyes that attracted her to her husband at first, before real love for him settled in her heart. Now she was holding his baby, that love that they had kindled for nearly a year and a half, a thing of the past – lost in dirty nappies and drool.

“Here I go again,” she said as a bout of fresh tears dropped down her face.

“I am so ungreatful. Maryam, your mommy is so weak. Your mommy is pathetic. She is a selfish witch who doesn’t deserve a beautiful baby like you.”

Her gloomy ramblings were answered by a gurgle of laughter. Nasreen could not help smiling. Truly Maryam was a joy. She was such a contented baby.

Nasreen had so many hopes and aspirations for her children. Before she married she had made a special dua’ on one of the last ten days of Ramadaan, hoping that it was the Night of Power. She had asked for righteous, pious children who would become the soldiers of Islam. Children who would become sahaba-like adults. Children who would be strong enough to be martyred in the path of Allah if need be.

But how was she to be the rearer of those special children? How was she going to pull-off the hard task of raising the friends of Allah if she was so weak in imaan?

She got up and re-tied her hair in a ponytail. “Come on Maryam, let mommy get you ready for your bath before your daddy gets home.” Nasreen had a difficult time trying to implement a strict routine for Maryam. She had read in Gina Ford’s “The New Contented Little Baby Book” that babies thrived on routine. Ever since, she had been pulling her hair out trying to get Maryam into a routine. It was 6pm already and according to Ford’s book the baby had to be washed and ready for her last feed before bed time at 7pm. Nasreen knew that if she was late it would throw her whole schedule out so she had to stop wallowing. “jeese, even my time of wallowing in my own sorrow is limited,” she laughed out loud. Motherhood was really something different she thought.