More his mama than mine

Published: September 9, 2012

Her eyes welled up with tears. Mama jaan’s (Mother dear) favouritism for her sons was evident. PHOTO: REUTERS

Uzma’s eyes were fixed on the clock. She had to wait for nine more seconds till it was exactly 3:00am. Her trance was broken by the aching last breath of the cigarette between her fingers. This pain was short-lived.

There were no signs of Ali’s return. Maintaining a smooth marriage was never on his priority list. Neither was this new to Uzma, nor was it the reason of her sleeplessness tonight. In her 12 years spent in Calgary, she had experienced insomnia every December.

The melancholic mewling of very noisy Frederic III was becoming unbearable. Its monotony seemed to be drilling a hole from Uzma’s left temple to the right. She feared the noise would wake little Sana up who had fallen asleep after a long bedtime storytelling session.

She smoothed her unwrinkled bed sheets wearily and stood up; gathering her hair in a taut, untidy bun which immediately fell back loose, unfastened. She walked into the lounge to find a big mess the cat had created; a chewed up family album was the first to alarm her,

Oh my God, what have you done, Freddie?

The cat responded by lovingly touching its head on her ankle.

The ripped album pricked her like a needle in the heart. On the front page, the 80’s Kodak model’s colour-blocked face was now chewed to a distorted horror. Uzma fell to her knees and picked up the album. Memories of her childhood and teen years flashed in front of her already sore eyes. Almost 7,000 miles away, this love felt the purest; family.

As she went through the album, she found not photos, but detailed bittersweet accounts of her life.

Uzma’s eighth birthday:

What a lovely day it had been. Of course, until mama had told her to wait until her brothers had had enough cake, she had said,

“Badtameezi nahi karo! Behnein humesha bhaiyon ke baad khaati hain!”

(Don’t misbehave! Sisters always wait until their brothers are done eating).

But mama always said this, and it didn’t usually hurt Uzma. Except, today, it was her special day. She deserved to be the first one to fill herself plump with her car-shaped cake. Uzma felt some heaviness in her chest but moved to the next photo.

Eid of 1988:

A sad pishwas-clad Uzma sat with her two brothers. The children had waited for their Eidi (money gifted to children by elders on Eid as a token of love) all day. Mama jaan had given the boys a hundred rupees each. It was a big amount back then for a child to receive. Uzma eagerly awaited her turn. And then mama jaan gave her her Eidi, fifty rupees.

She enquired as to why she was granted half her brothers’ share.

Her mother had said, again,

Don’t argue! You are a girl, Uzmi. You don’t have the kind of expenses boys have.

Shahid Bhai’s first child:

There it was; a picture of a proud grandmother who had flown in from Florida just to see her new grandson. She stood hovering a thousand rupee note over the child to ward off the evil eye.

This was the same grandmother who, four years ago, was satisfied with only some emailed pictures of Uzma’s daughter, Sana.

Her eyes welled up with tears. Mama jaan’s favouritism for her sons was evident. The reminiscing had rejuvenated the suppressed heartache of a neglected daughter. How her mother had not attended her recital because she had to go to Shahid bhai’s annual sports day.

How she had failed to remember Uzma’s birthday numerous times but it was a tradition to feed the poor at Abdullah Shah Ghazi’s tomb on Shahid’s birthday. How Mama didn’t come to see her off when she left for Australia for her scholarship. How many times mama jaan could have embraced her and didn’t.

Uzma picked up the phone and called her mother-

How are you, mama? I miss you so much.

I’m good, beta, just ate lunch. It’s extremely hot in Karachi tod–

Mama jaan… I want you to come to Calgary immediately. Please don’t say no.

The wretchedness in her tone was easy for a mother to sense. Uzma sucked in her tears and swallowed the dense, obstinate lump in her throat.

Khairiyat, Uzmi?

(Is everything okay, Uzmi?)

I feel depressed, Mama. Please come to me.

Stop crying, dear, things happen. Have you had a fight with Ali? It is called marriage, it isn’t easy. You are 34, Uzmi. I brought you up to be stronger than–

Maa, are you going to come to Calgary or not?

“I would have come had it not been for Shahid,” she had said. “You know he cannot go on one day without me.”

This post originally appeared here

Read more by Imaan here or follow her on Twitter @SheikhImaan

Join us on Facebook for blog updates and more!

Imaan Sheikh

Imaan Sheikh

An undergrad pursuing a mass communication degree from the University of Karachi, Imaan enjoys reading, writing and listening to classical psychedelic rock. She blogs at www.imaansheikh.wordpress.com and tweets as @SheikhImaan (twitter.com/SheikhImaan)

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.

  • J.K

    Beautiful piece. It happens everywhere. Even in the 21st century, where girls are neglected and boys given all the privileges. Just keep working hard and dont be disheartened.Recommend

  • http://www.pakistankakhudahafiz.com H Q

    Islam teaches to attend to daughters before sons, primarily because this favoritism is in the nerves of humankind. However, the fact that the mother’s attitude towards a daughter, who knows her gender more than anyone in the world – is really annoying.

    don’t worry. you can recover the injuries of your heart in taking good care of Sana. Never let her sense what you’ve felt during your childhood. She’ll grow up to be a great lady.Recommend

  • Ali

    Koi kaam dhanda nahin hai kia bhai? Saara din R.Ronay mein nikal jata hoga!Recommend

  • Fahad Zia

    Is it only me, who grew up in a daughter favoring family??????? :(Recommend

  • Boy

    Sure it happens, but not in every house.Recommend

  • kinzah

    @Fahad Zia:
    That makes two of us :) Recommend

  • tj

    nah i have seen many pakistani families favouring and prioritising daughters and listening to whatever they need and feel more than they care for boys.yes moms naturally are more inclined towards sons as fathers are inclined towards daughters.Recommend

  • imaan.sheikh

    Thankfully I’ve grown up in a daughter-favouring family, too.
    This piece of fiction comes from the real lives of some people I know. :)

    Recommend

  • ZAIN UL ABIDIN

    applauding………..it’s a grave situation…but don’t worry….as for as i observed mothers always shower their love on their sons..even they provide them narcotics if they demand..it’s a fact……but on the other side father’s love is for his daughters……because they know that daughters will spend a few days in his home and sons forever…….Recommend

  • farhan

    @fahad zia

    hand up nops bro i m from the same league :DRecommend

  • Malehood

    I have experienced my mom favouring me and my brothers over my sisters. I always see her bringing the big pieces of chicken for me and male members of my family leaving the smaller ones for herself and my sisters. So many times I was enraged and didn’t eat the meal but she always says, “Tussi Kha Lo Bachey wo kha lengey.” Recommend

  • Tayyaba A

    No matter how strong a daughter could be she will always need her mother`s emotional support..sadly many mothers dont realize this, where as they must have experienced the same when they needed it themselves. A daughter is never stronger without a mother`s love.Recommend

  • Parvez

    You have a way with words and have written this with good effect. I just think that one can not generalise so such an extent. Mothers, daughters, sons and their relationships differ from house to house, country to country.Recommend

  • A

    For myself and for most of my relatives, I can fairly say the families were very much daughter favoring. Even the mothers, though liking boys more than the dads did, were giving more love to daughters on the balance. Not to mention that love for daughters was unconditional and boys were reminded of their “responsibilities” in return for the love.Recommend

  • Logic

    Its simply because sons r the opposite sex who will later financially take care of old parents that is why mothers favor them more and c daughters as a financial liability and a useless being.lol.Recommend

  • Emotional boy

    Sniff! imaan my dear, i strongly suggest u write a book of short stories. If you want, i will become ur agent! … i was weeping as i read this blog..i know girl pals goin thru the same experience…siggh
    u mind if i record an audio version of this blog ..with ME narrating it? Recommend

  • Hammad

    God was that tedious and cliché.Recommend

  • usman

    I had quite the opposite experience or at least not as what is being depicted.Recommend

  • Haider

    @Author..You forgot to mention role of a brother here. He always cares for his sister.Recommend

  • Sheikh Salman

    Lets make it four Fahad, Farhan, Usman and Me. :)Recommend

  • umer

    Boo hoo…
    A cry baby… apart from husband thing !
    My mother and father have been entirely opposite – my sisters always first ! allhumdulliah I have grown to realise that they deserved more care and importance which was well needed. Age of 34 of the character described…. One suggestion – grow up please. At least thank your mother for what ever little you think she did for you. Recommend

  • Muhammad Waqas

    Reverse for my family!!!!!!

    I have a sister. She always gets more Eidi than me. she always gets money from our relatives more than me. Moreover parents always supports her rather than me in any argument between us (though i m not always wrong)Recommend

  • Javeria Mahmood

    Got Heartache… honey superb piece Recommend

  • waqas

    it doesn’t happen in every family,just like as in my own family,girls/daughters are prefferd over boys/sons.
    At this time,I would like to mention my observation that the boys/son which are previliged more than girls, do not care well their elders in their old age and these poor girls/daughter are always ready to look after/help thier elders.

    Salam ay bint e hawa Recommend

  • Ali T.

    @Fahad Zia:
    Nopes I also grew up in a family where my sisters always were and still are given preference over me Recommend

  • RK Singh

    not in my house.Recommend

  • Tauseef

    In my house, we have one sis (younger one) and No decision takes place without her consent. It doesn’t happen now a days but in some real sub-urban areas….. Recommend

  • shoeb

    I come from a family which treat its daughter like freaking royalties however there are families in Pakistan where daughters are named “TALHA” …if you know what i mean.. Recommend

  • Mlh

    Well written. Sadly still prevails in our society, and then there are instances where sisters get bitter towards their brothers, so the siblings relationship is ruined, the girls’ relationship with their parents, and then there are instances where the brothers get this sense of undeserved self importance. Unjustifiable practice, this one! Recommend

  • Morning Glory

    It might be happening somewhere in our country but in the 24 years of my life in Pakistan, I have never seen a single case where this prevails. So if this attitude is on a decline, why should we bring such issues forward on a platform where we are supposed to present our country? Why should we paint a negative picture while we continue to neglect the many positivities we have?Recommend

  • Midhat

    I come from an average Middle class Pakistani Family and I remember complaining to my Mom” You love them(My brothers) more than me. But honestly even then i knew that I was emotinally manipulating her into getting more attention ( All all girls do:$).
    Like most desi families, my brothers got their fair share of beatings, with me always spared. and even when we siblings used to have fights, my brothers always got the scolding( behan pe kabhi haath nahi uthana!! )although I would be the one beating them up!
    Even in acedamics My brothers were always told they were nikamey, while I was appreciated like Ms. Einstien.
    For all I know, I now feel sorry for My BrothersRecommend

  • Shabbir

    @author: Though I cannot say how prevalent this is in society today, I do understand it is the norm in a lot of families.

    Either way, this is a very well written blog/story. One of the best pieces of writings I have read in this newspaper.Recommend

  • asma

    oh i guess i accendentally opened the blog for an urdu novel… i mean seriously ET has dropped down to this! if you need to write on gender biasness please adopt a mature way to express the idea.Recommend

  • Nobody

    @umer:
    Grow up? That’s your reaction to an adult wanting their parent near them…? It’s not about growing up, I’ve seen many older adults in their 30s, men and women alike who want parents nearby in times of difficulty because no one can offer what they can, especially if someone has a crappy life partner. Yes, most adults have to deal with it but wanting them near does not warrant the reaction “Grow up.” I’d have more to say but I’m sure ET mods will censor it…. or would they….Recommend

  • Sheikh Salman

    I think no one is eager for listening and cares about the problems of Males have got.. The girls grew as they are the most hated and depressed or suppressed human beings.. All the world problems are not always related to females… :) Recommend

  • dunya.com.pk

    it doesnt happen in all familiesRecommend

  • umer

    @ nobody…
    take it easy man !!! or should i say “dont grow up” :P
    It is one thing to want your parent and other to cry for it. A attitudes that distinguished kids from adults specially the ones who are in their 30s. So cry mode of a kid at the age of 30 did warranted the comment – grow up !
    Having sad that – please accept my appology for hurting you. I apologized, yeah ! thats what grown ups do :PRecommend

  • Fizza

    I have listened a lot of similar stories from my colleagues and classmates but I think they are not as true as often portrayed. The natural attraction between opposite sex is evident in the relationship between mother and son and daughter and father, but, in usual, parents love their daughters more than their sons, as far as I have seen in my family. And this is the reason you’ll see that parents put more restrictions on their daughters, a thing I do not personally like. Even if you feel your mother is not loving you that much as she loves your brothers, think about how much love you have gained from your father. Don’t you notice that your father do not scold you but your brothers? Give it a thought. Recommend

  • Fizza

    This Eidi thing is not digestible to me. In my family, and in most of families in Pakistan, it is a custom that girls not only get Eidi from parents but also from brothers and they keep on getting Eidi even after they are married and have children. In contrast, boys never get Eidi from sisters and as soon as they start earning, elders stop giving them Eidi saying that “Munda ab kaman joga hu gaya hay ab Eidi day ga lay ga nahi” :DRecommend

  • Shiekh Salman

    @Fizza:
    Finally some sane voice is coming from females.. Fizza Ji tussi cha gai ho ;-)Recommend

  • Vikram

    @Fizza: “Parents love their daughters more than their sons, as far as I have seen in my family. And this is the reason you’ll see that parents put more restrictions on their daughters, a thing I do not personally like.”

    Restrictions are to prevent her from getting close to men in a sexual way.

    Lot of things happen in our lives, but we pick few to compare who was loved more.Recommend

  • Vikram

    @Muhammad Waqas: Moreover parents always supports her rather than me in any argument between us (though i m not always wrong).

    She is you sister, so what. Is Winning an argument important for you or seeing your sister happy?Recommend

  • Fizza

    @Vikram:
    That’s exactly my point that though I do not like being restricted I know that these restrictions are because my parents care for me.Recommend

  • Nobody

    @Fizza:
    With respect to your opinion as I agree with most of it, I have to disagree on one point. Parents putting restrictions on female children does not show their love (at least not in a normal healthy way IMO), rather it shows that they have little or no faith in their daughter’s intelligence and sense of judgment to protect herself from situations that may cause her harm. My parents never had different rules for girls or boys, it was always the same and we were taught to be smart and figure out for ourselves what situations may be dangerous so once we grew into our teenage years and early adulthood we could choose for ourselves.
    Having said that, I too have never been witness to the Eidi thing. In all cases I’ve seen both here and in Pakistan, girls are more pampered than boys (although I know that’s not always the case) but good to see it does exist. Cheers. Recommend

  • Nobody

    @umer:
    Haha apology accepted, but I wasn’t hurt by your comment, just thought it was a bit harsh. And yes, adults don’t normally cry for their parents, BUT, we can never judge what someone’s situation is and/or how far away they are from their folks; no matter how old people seem to get, having the umbrella of your parents seems to be a source of comfort for everyone. Who knows what the subject’s life situation was for her to want her mom nearby. Anyways, I’m rambling. Cheers!Recommend

  • Vikram

    @H Q: “Islam teaches to attend to daughters before sons, primarily because this favoritism is in the nerves of humankind.”

    No it is not in nerves or blood. It is a learned behavior being passed from one generation to the other. Islam gives men one degree above women. Islam allows 4 wives.Islam allows men to beat their wives. If Islam teaches Muslims to attend to daughters before sons that is wrong too. Why not treat boys and girls as equals as is done in Western culture. Any way Muslims treat women as lower class.

    In arab culture, if you ask a man how many kids they have, they just give you number of boys they have. If a girl has sex, it is connected with honor, if a boy has sex, no one seems to care.Recommend

  • Vikram

    @Tayyaba A: No matter how strong a daughter could be she will always need her mother`s emotional support

    Love makes one feel confident, fear makes people feel insecure, emotional. if a woman is too emotional herself, she may not notice / or have energy to love others. How do you think this problem can be fixed?Recommend

  • iqra

    Yeah it happens in reality dOn’t know y but it really really happens .Recommend

  • AbdulRashid Behlim

    Well thanks Allah in my home daughter’s were always given much preference over the sons, No matter how strong a daughter could be she will always need her mother`s emotional support..Well don’t worry time will come when your mother would need your emotional support and hope you will be there for her and yah for your own daughter too. Recommend