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Please, Mom, don't grow old

Please, Mom, don't grow old

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Opinion Women’s Rights Children

Saturday 17 February 202403:09 pm
إقرأ باللغة العربية:

أرجوك يا أمي لا تكبري


My mom takes care of her hair, and spends a lot of time styling it. She then braids it into two braids and places a rose-adorned blue scarf on top. A few days ago, she was combing her hair as she always does, but this time was not like the others. I noticed that her hair had turned white; it seemed like time wasn’t kind to her, stripping away the black locks I was accustomed to. The comb slipped from her quivering hands, which in her youth could shake wheat spikes faster than the wind. For the first time, I notice that my mom has grown old. Blood pressure medications have taken up permanent residence on her nightstand, and her eyedrops are positioned beside her pillow. Sorrow now walks across her kind face. I wished time would stop so that my mother wouldn't grow old.

For the first time, I notice that my mom has grown old. Blood pressure medications are a permanent fixture on her nightstand, and her eyedrops are positioned beside her pillow. I wished time would stop so that my mother wouldn't grow old.

The image I hold in my mind of my mother goes back to the 90s, when she was in full health and youthful, before time betrayed her. She would sew her clothes by hand and prepare food for the little ones who knew nothing but the joy of eating. She would wrap me in her coat, fearful that I’d succumb to a light cold on a bright January day, unaware that her coat could warm even a London winter. She would put the kettle on the stove, sit beside the National 543 cassette player and play a tape of the popular folk singer Fatima Eid, singing along, “Oh, they blamed me, in your love, they wronged me…

She was deeply attached to her voice, describing it as “warm like the seven o'clock morning sun.” My mom's love was one that knew no bounds, and not a ready-made love like those easy-to-open tuna cans that are easily thrown out.

During a Friday sermon at the mosque, I remember hearing the sheikh say that a child is born from his mother's womb with closed fists, as though grabbing onto life, and when one dies, their palms are open, as if bidding farewell, a symbol that one leave this earth without taking anything from it.

Before sunset, I used to go to the fields with my friends. We would chase butterflies and steal berries from our neighbor's tree. On my walk back, I would see her sitting on the rooftop of our large house, in the last light-filled corner before the sun sets, retreating behind its usual mountain for the night. She would hold a comb and brush her hair, which was as dark and long as a winter night. As usual, she braided it into two braids, in line with the current trend, which happened to emulate Fatima Eid's hairdo. My mom was so exaggerated in her imitation of Fatima Eid, wearing the same vibrant scarves, some were so bright and multi-colored that they appeared to be multiple scarves in one.

My mother would laugh as I watched her from afar. After she was done, she would wait for me to arrive at our door and hold my hand, so that I wouldn't fall on the stairs. In the evenings, she would give me a piece of candy as well as tomorrow's piece.

My throat hurt from how much I would look up longingly at the berry tree. I wished it would grow old so that its berries would fall on their own for me to collect. I grew, and my mother grew, yet the berry tree remained as it was, its roots deep in the earth. Its branches remained high, and its berries never fell on their own.

I was the shortest among my peers. My throat hurt from how much I would look up longingly at the berry tree. I wished it would grow old so that its berries would fall on their own, which would make collecting them easier for me. At the time, I didn't wish to grow up in order to reach the tree’s tallest branches to pick berries with ease. I don't like getting old. I wished it for the tree, but not for myself. But I grew, and my mother grew, yet the berry tree remained as it was, its roots deep in the earth. Its branches remained high, and its berries never fell on their own. And I still struggle to pick even a single berry from that tree. Have you not heard of the story of the one who envies a berry tree?

The image of the comb falling from my mom's quivering hand is ingrained in my memory, along with her tired face and white hair. Sorrow takes over me whenever I remember that she has grown old, and that time has not spared her weak body, or shown any mercy. I don't know how to stop time and the ticking of the clocks that never cease, with every hour a countdown on her life. Ever since I was a child, I hated my birthday, and never liked celebrating it, convinced that it was foolish to celebrate the departure of a year of my life.

Sorrow takes over me whenever I remember that my mom has grown old, and that time has not spared her weak body or shown any mercy. I don't know how to stop time and the ticking of the clocks, as every hour is a countdown on her life.

As a child, during a Friday sermon at the mosque, I remember hearing the sheikh say that a child is born from his mother's womb with closed fists, as if grabbing onto life, and when one dies, their palms are open, as if bidding farewell, a symbol that one leaves this earth without taking anything from it. I remember the sheikh's words on the difference between the love of life and the dislike of death, and they still linger in my mind among the other words he used to share in his sermons.

Last week, I bought a box of creams for my mother to use, which promise to eliminate white hair and restore hair to its original color. According to the manufacturer, these creams are safer and better than regular hair dyes. The cream marked my attempt to bring a smile to my mother's face, after her white hair had disappeared, or at least some of it, and with frequent use, her hair would gradually even revert back to its natural black color, if I were to believe the manufacturer.

If the hair cream did indeed restore her original hair color, who would restore her youth, stolen by the passage of time? The truth is that time does not return; it flows, crushing our youth beneath its feet.

I waited until my mother washed her hair, holding its strands and combing it, before applying some of the cream. In the morning, she woke up and washed her hair. And when she found that it had started to turn black, a clear smile appeared on her face, and questions started swirling in my mind. If the cream did indeed restore her original hair color, who would restore her youth, stolen by the passage of time?

The truth is that time does not return; it flows, crushing our youth beneath its feet. I didn't wake up to my mother's voice and her tapping my shoulder, and these words quietly repeating over and over in my head, “Please, Mom, don't grow old.”



* The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Raseef22



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