Navida’s deep love for her mother “Ammi” only grew when their roles interchanged, and Navida became both a daughter and carer. “When I fed her with my bare hands, she would have a cheeky smile and then attempt to bite my fingers softly as a playful gesture.”
Our Roles Interchanged
A mother is the greatest gift any person could have. I opened my eyes to this world only to recognise that I had someone in my life who always wanted to understand me and absorb all my fears and pain. When people say things about their painful lack of connection with their mothers, I cannot relate since my mum really means the world to me.
In 2008, Ammi (‘Mum’) came to Australia to attend my graduation ceremony at Monash University. I was unwell and struggling with severe mental health concerns. At the time, she was my ultimate carer – emotionally, physically, and financially… providing constant stability and safety. I took her to St. Kilda beach and said to her, "I feel like lying down and just sleeping for a while". She immediately put my head on her lap and said, "So jao beta". In my mother tongue Urdu, this meant, “Sleep, darling”. I did have a good restful sleep during the midafternoon that January on my mum’s soft lap.
Fast forward eleven years… Ammi, due to weakness and age, had suffered a fall and injured herself in Muscat, Oman, where she lived with my brother. She had two fractures on her right shoulder and was unable to use her right hand completely. I immediately flew from Melbourne to Muscat to visit her and was pained to see her right arm in a sling. Ammi gestured to me with her eyes that her shoulder was broken, and she could not use her arm. I hugged her and assured her that everything would be alright and that she would be fit and fine again.
The next three months involved unshakable faith and tremendous care in order that both of us siblings could continue to feel determined to help our mother to recover. The most difficult thing was that, after a month, my mum relapsed and got sicker. Her legs started to become inactive, and it seemed as though she was losing her ability to walk. A physiotherapist came home and used big medical terms such as “Parkinson’s” and “Alzheimer’s”. My brother and I were both dumbfounded. I extended my leave by emailing my senior manager. She was very forthcoming with help, and I was filled with gratitude.
During mealtimes, when I attempted to spoon-feed her, Ammi would bite the teaspoon sometimes out of frustration, and sometimes, unconsciously. When I fed her with my bare hands, she would have a cheeky smile and then attempt to bite my fingers softly as a playful gesture. I can proudly say that Ammi recovered her good health to a significant and satisfying extent.
My mother, though old and fragile, remains my pillar of guidance and my pillar of light. Our roles have interchanged outwardly but in fact, she is still my Carer and my Only Parent as she has always been. Ammi is my greatest gift of all.