A Child’s Adventure of Becoming Human

Arzu Okumuş
5 minutes

To the beloved soul of my mother, to all mothers and mothers of the future…

I love my mom very much. You might say, “So what?” “Everyone loves their mother very much.” It is true, of course, everyone loves their mother a lot. Every mother carries her child in her womb for nine months, she doesn’t eat herself but feeds her child, she doesn’t wear herself but dresses her child and when her child is ill, she feels down and blue.

I was born diseased, visually impaired, and so small that today I would be called premature. I had other nonapparentproblems, which I found out by chance at a later age. Like having only one kidney, but my mother never knew that. Not once did my mother say, “God, why was my child born like this!” I know because I would have felt it if she said so. This is how I learned from my mother to resign oneself to and to seek refuge in God.

We were five siblings. I’ve never seen my mother treat me with privilege. When my brother and I were five or six years old, shemade us take turns washing the dishes. She would never say, “She doesn’t see so she can’t do it.” She would describe us how to wash them. If she did me any favor, it must have been in her prayers, because I always felt the hand of God protecting me.

My mother was illiterate. When my sister and brothers started school, she learned reading to a degree with them. My mother taught me writing. In fact, the first word I wrote was the word “mother”. The “mother” who taught me to be determined and diligent.

I learned to listen from my mother. No matter who is speaking to you; old or young, smart or crazy, even if they are not in front of you like on the radio or on the phone, to listen until they finish… There was a very distant relative on my father’s side; everyone called him Crazy Mehmet, but we called him Uncle Mehmet. One day my father brought him home. Somehow, he couldn’t return to his village, to his home that day. He was covered in filth. Maybe he hasn’t seen a bath in months. My mother didn’t even scold my father, but she said, “Let’s give the poor guy a bath, so that his body can relax a little.” The man was exhausted from lice and itching. My mother gave him a bath, dressed him in my father’s clothes, washed his clothes and dried them on the stove. Then she chatted with Uncle Mehmet until he fell asleep. That was what it means to care for human beings.

We were little; my mother used to tell us stories. The stories which, in her own childhood they had heard from their grandparents when the whole family gathered around the hearth in the evenings or the stories of the battles of Hz. Ali read by their older brothers who were literate. We would listen to my mother with excitement, with complete attention. We always wanted to be the noble Ali who showed the will to choose Islam at a young age, the strong Ali whose pen made him call himself “the gate of wisdom” in the face of ignorance when he grew up, and Ali who was the “Lion of God” in the face of oppression with his sharp sword.

I am six years old. I will undergo my first eye surgery in Ankara. My father is crouching and crying. My mother said, “What are you doing in front of the child, you big boy?” and brought my father to his senses. That’s when I learned from my mother how to stand strong and be resilient even when I was hurting inside.

I was whiny for once in my life. And not just like that, irritatingly. After the surgery, we were traveling around Ankara. I saw a tricycle. I demanded it persistently, “I want it, I want it.” “Okay, we’ll buy it in Giresun, we promise.” “I want to have it right now.” It was not bought in Ankara, but they bought it in Giresun. I made that day in Gençlik Park, unbearable both for my parents and for myself. Through this incident, I learned not to be weakened by unnecessary compassion in the face of irrational and unreasonable demands.

I never upset my mother, never disobeyed her or broke her heart. I wasn’t afraid of my mother. On the contrary, I was afraid of upsetting my mother. My mom didn’t throw slippers at me. When we brought the toys we had made from mud home to dry them in the oven, she never said, “What are all these messes doing in the house?” and didn’t throw them out. When we brought out all the pillows, blankets, cushions and whatever we found and played house when she wasn’t at home, she never scolded and never said, “What a mess!” She just told us to tidy up and taught us to act responsibly and to be tolerant.

I learned a lot from my mother. To be patient, to be merciful, to forgive, not to lie, to be loyal, to be helpful, to tell stories, to listen to the radio, to sing, to pray, to call the chest the “Board of Faith”, to love people, to love butterflies, to love flowers and to smile no matter what…

I was with her at her death. When I covered my face on the sofa she was lying and cried, “Mother, don’t be offended, I can’t afford to lift you up and down anymore,” she lifted her weak hand with difficulty and placed it on my head. The last thing I learned from my mother, who consoled me with a last caress, saying, “I don’t feel offended, my daughter,” was that even though mothers die, their caring hands continue to caress the heads of their children. If anyone still doesn’t understand why I love my mother so much, let me tell. I am “human” because of my mother, and I am totally my mother’s daughter.

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