single mother


Silence. Silence is over-rated. Silence is golden, but not so golden. I know silence because I have mastered it. My current read is ‘Silence is my mother tongue’ by Sulaiman Addonia and the last time I talked to anyone is months ago.

As I hit rock bottom and eventually made it my permanent home, silence is the only way to speak. Silence until you hear your own fading heartbeat. Silence until your legs warm up to the extremely cold water as you continue drowning. Silence until it becomes sharp and loud, your body disappearing into the blueness. That’s how much I relate to silence. That’s how much I am the silence.

Staring at my mirror, I touch the strings of my grey, white hair. Wrinkles staring back at me. Cheeks flabby like inflated balloons. How did I get old too fast to notice? If I died in this empty house or went missing right now, no one will notice immediately. The first person will notice a week later at least. In the midst of her shuffling between her busy schedules, it will strike her. Silence is not always good. She will remember. In the midst of her jolliness, she will remember me the way you remember that you left a child all alone at home or when you lose a toddler in a busy supermarket. Sudden. Almost in a panic. God knows she cares.

The second one will notice roughly a month later. No blame whatsoever because that’s how we roll.

My son would be the last one to realize. News would get to him as the stranger he’s become.

I lie down on my bed, hands stretched apart wondering how to do this the right way. He’s leaving the house. He wants to start a new life in a new city with some of his friends. He had said it so casually like I was but a nanny to him. How does one live alone after their entire lives revolved around one person and they left? How does a fifty five year old woman restart her life afresh? How do I break the habit of worrying about his asthma whenever the weather gets too cold? Or cook food just for one? How do I be myself without him?

He has grown now. He wants to go after his dreams. Build an empire of his own. Make new friends. Have a new family. But what does that leave me with?
I know how this works okay. I know. First comes in the distance. Then the busy schedules and less conversations. Then less visits home. Then the small talk, hurried phone calls. Then silence.

I know how this works because that is how it went down with everyone else. He was the only one left and that too, I am losing now.

I don’t want to be the selfish kind of mother. I don’t want to cage him. I don’t want to tighten my grip on him way too much until he slips away in between my fingers. He already slipped though. But how do I let go of him without losing him entirely? Is that even possible? Fathomable?

How do I start self-discovery at this age and time? How do I ask myself what is really my favourite meal after his, became mine? How do I identify what I love about life when I see a drone flying past and I smile because I love what he loves? Does that even make sense?

I don’t have friends. Okay, I have two out-of-this-world friends who have many other friends. That makes me very dismissible. Very much replaceable. I don’t have friends because I thought being a dedicated mother would cover it all. Because his friends became my friends and my sons too. Because I could always expect to walk into the house and see him with a group of them fighting over food. I didn’t prepare for this. No one prepared a single, obsessive mother of the day she will have to let go of not just her son, but her life as well. Because now, how do we untwine all that we have? Our entire lives? Emotions, Books, Thoughts, the pictures in the album, moments. How do we share them between us like, ‘This is mine, this is yours.’ How do I even know what was really mine for my own sake and what was mine because he was in it?

Listen to the silence in my room. In my house. In my big, empty house. It reminds me of my own soul. Lost within all the familiarity.

How do I love without being the enemy? How do I respect his decision of moving on without crying, without it eating me up like wasted wood on fire? How do I deal with nostalgia; the literally painful pangs of missing him without going insane? How do I become the good, understanding and supportive mother without losing my essence? The very thing I was living up for?

Apparently this is how life is. Everyone eventually leaves. Whether it is by travelling, going after dreams, changed priorities, death, unresolved matters, masks falling off…whatever it is, they eventually leave. How then can I hope for love as intense as my own from anyone? At this age and time? How then do I expect to ever get in return what I give out without holding anything back?

If I died or went missing, barely anyone would notice. And now, I am losing the only beautiful thing in my life. Tell me, tell me…how do I love and let go without losing him entirely?


You have done it again. You have, in your stubborn nature, done it again. Unbelievable! Annoyingly unbelievable. But for your mother, it isn’t exactly unbelievable. All she ever said when she knew what you’ve done was, ‘What is new…’ Even so, her voice was heavy and almost cold when you told her of your crisis. You are her son after all; even when she knew how shady and irresponsible you are, she still hoped and prayed for you to change and settle down.

The last time it happened, it was three years back, when you started going after the mother of your ex fiancée. Hell broke loose. Insults were thrown. Your mother was abused right on her face. About how she hadn’t raised you well. How she had horribly failed as a mother. There were blows thrown on your face by your fiancée. Tears. A lot of tears. And of course shouting. The neighbours were all there; whispering, staring and shaking heads. A disgrace. You’ve always been a disgrace to your mother, your family and community.

You tried to protect your mother. Tried to stop both mother and daughter from dragging your mother in the mud. But your mother had always been dragged into your mud and she always cleaned it up. Maybe that was her mistake. Maybe her biggest mistake was that she hoped her son will change and that it was just the hot-youth hormones within you burning you into ashes. This too shall pass, she convinced herself. He will grow up soon. So she took it all in; the insults, the stares and being the black sheep of the family.

Everyone said it was because she is a single mother. She needed a man and you needed a father to put you in your right place. That she was weak-hearted towards you. You are her only son and her only child anyway. People said a lot of things. But you knew better. You know better. You know how your mother gave you endless pep-talks about respecting women. How she warned you not to be what your father was to her. You know how your mother struggled to bring food to the table. You know how she taught you about God. About empathy and compassion. You, better than anyone else, know how she would cry alone silently and the only thing you’d hear from the next room is her frequent sniffs. You know how she’d wake up with eyes swollen and red like ripe tomatoes, laughing nervously and blaming her allergies for it. You know. You know.

Mother and daughter broke your mother’s heart into pieces just like you had broken their relationship; their bond, their home. Who gets in between a mother and daughter anyway?

Your mother cried her heart off and begged for death. She begged for a calamity. She begged for cancer and a fire to burn her down into nothingness. She begged for the angel of death to appear. She begged. She begged a lot. That was when you promised that you’d change. You promised never to let her down again. You promised her to be a better person; a better man.

Years went by and your mother stayed by your side. Praying for you. Guiding you. Loving you. For a moment you settled. For a moment, there weren’t any scandals happening. You just stayed low key. You travelled to the Middle East to start afresh. For a moment, it was quiet. Your mother held her breath; always scared on a phone call that would inform of her of your other evil-doing or worse. But for a moment, nothing happened. For a moment, she believed you had changed and settled.

Then came the late night phone call. It was you once again, calling from the Saudi cell. You have been arrested for impregnating a minor. A 16 year old. Your mother’s silence on the other side of the phone was too loud you could hear her cry and touch her anguish. She barely said before she ended the call.

You are here now. Holding the cell bars with both your hands. Looking outside as the police officers pace back and forth as they speak in Arabic. Big macho men hovering around you. Pee stench all over the place. Guilt is chewing on your heart like sugarcane, only your heart is not as sweet. Maybe just bitter. You want your mother to speak to you. To say it’s going to be okay as she’d always done. You want her to not be angry and disappointed with you. You want to cry on her laps and ask for forgiveness. You want to tell her you deserve it; to rot in this cell in a foreign country or be beaten up to death. You want to tell her she deserves better because she is the better human being. You have a lot to tell her, but this time she wouldn’t listen. This time, she has disowned you. This time, she won’t clean your mess.

Here you are; burning inside and trapped outside.

You have done it again.