The words echoed through my mind as I stared at the silhouette of my mother. She was finally at peace – or so I hoped. She lay as still as death dictated, and while guilt gnawed at me from the inside, I felt relieved.
What kind of disgusting child feels relieved on seeing her mother dead?
I felt a tiny tug to my hand. I looked into the innocent eyes of my own daughter. “Carbon-copies” my mind taunted me again and as I realized my worst fear, there was no stopping my tears.
“You’re a carbon-copy of your mother”
I often heard these words from family and friends alike. While they meant it as a compliment, I took it otherwise. I was terrified of becoming like my mother simply because I saw a side to her that no one else did. I saw my mother’s weakness, and ironically, my mother’s weakness was in failing to understand the deeper meaning of the words “carbon copy”, despite the many times they were thrown at us, as mother and daughter.
I remember the many times when mum would scold me harshly for not reading my salaah on time. Sometimes, the scolding would include a beating with the clichéd rolling pin. It wasn’t the beating that I loathed, but rather the constant testimony it became to my own mother’s hypocrisy. The very rolling pin that was used to discipline me was the same distraction that often had mum missing her own salaah because the roti’s needed to be ready on time.
Then, there was the constant pressure to always be the best daughter. Mum would expect me to drop anything and everything, ensuring that I was always at her beck and call. While I appreciated the importance of honoring ones mother – this too was only unbearable because of the double-standards it highlighted. Often, while mum was giving me the do’s and don’ts of being a Prized Daughter, my maternal grandmother would call only to be cut-off because my mother didn’t have any time.
I resented my mother for forcing me to be what she was not. But more than resentment, I feared for my mother. I feared for her because in failing to realize that the best way to groom me was for her to lead by example, my mother had begun treading the dangerous path of not practicing what she preached, even if it was only to me, her child.
I often recall the narration of our Prophet (ﷺ) regarding his journey of Me’raj. It is said that he (ﷺ) passed by a group of men whose lips were being sheared with scissors of fire and he (ﷺ) was informed that this is the punishment of “the preachers from your nation who commanded people to be righteous and they forgot it themselves, although they recited the Book.”
I look into my daughter’s eyes and realize that the responsibility of being a mother is as great as the rights that come with it – if not greater. To my daughter, I am her ‘khateeb’, her own personal preacher and teacher, in word and deed.
More than this miniature version of me, being my “carbon-copy” physically, she will duplicate my actions and words faster than my looks. Before I can mould her into everything she needs to be, I must become the best that I can be for the pleasure of the Creator, who made us so strikingly similar yet unique.
I smile at my daughter and then reach out for the Qur’an in front of me. She returns my smile and copies my movement.
“We’re making dua for Naani, isn’t Mummy?
I place a kiss onto my daughter’s forehead. The best form of forgiveness I can now seek is to learn from my mother’s mistakes and so do I promise myself to always lead and teach by example.