Beneath her feet

Perfection is the word that often cropped up in conversations about her son. “Oh Salma, I wish my son was like yours, he does everything for you” is what they’d all say and she’d thank them.

She lived under his roof, and the food she ate was the food that he provided her with. The clothes she wore were the ones he bought her. The phone she used was under the contract that he pays for. But when the conversations ended she’d go back to sitting in the clothes he gave her, staring at the empty wallet that he refuses to fill.

By the book, she was his mother, but off the record she was his prisoner and her empty card the jail.

While she lived her days alone at home, he was outside jumping between different deals. He went from being a first-year university student depending on student finance and his mother to a university drop-out with an unthinkable amount of money to his name. He went from being sheltered, clothed, loved and cherished by her to discarding her, in the same way he discards his burner phones.

A day came where his “friend” perished in the deal that he set up and it finally clicked. He came to see that the life he was living was no life at all. He saw the mother of his friend praying for him at the funeral. She was the only one. His mother alone stood by his side from the moment he was born til the moment he was buried 6 feet under. For “til death do us part” was initially a promise between a mother and her child, and when the promise becomes fulfilled there is nothing left for her. All the friends that man spent his limited minutes with and all the minutes he spent ignoring his mother, she ended up being the sole individual who stood by his side.

It was then that he began his job hunting journey and began working in a warehouse that paid him by the day. Although he was skinny, he was determined, and determination is the winning trait of them all. So the end of the day slowly crept in and his pay-check along with it.

“This one is for you Hooyo (mother)” he declared, looking up at the sky proud of himself. His first paycheck would be hers and so would the next, he thought. He passed by a flower shop and purchased the best bouquet of them all since she deserved the best, in his eyes. Along with the bouquet came a letter. The first that he’d written since primary school, the first of many.

As he neared his front door his heart began to race. His mind running loose with thoughts he’d never had before.

“Will she ever forgive me? Does she still love me? If she doesn’t will she? Will she like the flowers? Should I take her out to a meal? Wait I don’t even know what she likes to eat.. It’s okay she can decide for herself. Whatever she wants.”

But when he entered he wasn’t greeted with the scent of his protector on this earth. Instead, he was greeted with an unpleasant smell and he began to wonder what she was cooking. Intestines? Liver? He braved the kitchen where the source of the smell was, however, it wasn’t a poor dish but instead his poorly mother.

She had been poorly for a few days and his ignorance the cause. He realised that none other than he could be blamed and a single verse entered his mind.

“Which of the favours of your Lord will you deny and he realised he denied his mother, who he was blessed with and when you deny what is good for you it is taken away. In that moment that she died her first child, lost years before, ceased to be motherless. A favour that they accepted.

Out of shock, he collapsed and he was transported to a place he didn’t recognise with someone he subconsciously did. Between him and the other was a bridge. He slowly walked across it to get a closer look until he realised that it was she. That it was his mother. His heart leapt and his legs went faster than they’d ever gone before until he was an arms-length away. And at that moment the bridge collapsed, just as his mother had in the house he held her prisoner.

So I ask you now the reader, which of the favours of your Lord will you deny?