Mum, maa, mommy, mom
French love songs
In a patriarchal world and a patriarchal third world society where domestic abuse, violence, marital rape among other gendered ills are a norm, the talk of French love songs feels like a anomaly when it’s not so in the rest of the world.
In the rest of the world, couples love and respect each other, they contribute to each other’s emotional, mental and intellectual evolution.
All around me were couples where women were subjected to both physical and verbal abuse by their male partners.
Marriage, a sacred institution for many has been historically employed as a tool of oppression against women by men. A toxic patriarchal mix of power dynamics and power politics.
A law for the protection of married women, victims of domestic and marital violence could not be passed by the parliament of Pakistan. Nothing surprising there. The dangerous interpretations of religion and an obsolete tradition of human rights violations (for women rights are most essentially human rights) that are practiced and propagated in a country such as this lends men a status of legal, religious, societal and familial superiority over women.
And French love songs
I heard the music, witnessed the epitomisation of those love ballads in one couple whose union created the author of this piece.
My parents loved, adored and respected each other not just as part of a westernised ethos but as part of a universal love imperative.
The man was there to love, nurture and share with the woman but it was the woman whose extension he became overtime. Both consciously and unconsciously. She influenced him in such a manner that he being a big masculine man with an overly pronounced effeminacy, a beautiful polarity in itself, organically gravitated towards her even more intense, almost overpowering strength and sensitivity.
She personified the two in a way that not only stirred him to the core but also had me floating in the air, ecstatic to see this surreal nearly unreal fusion.
“Me and your mom have a relation like the ones they sing of in French love songs”, he once said to me. Tears welled up in my eyes, a lump appeared in my throat and I smiled and nodded.
Being young, inexperienced, naive and excessively idealistic at the time, I did realise the beauty of it all but not it’s depth. A depth, description of which renders words truly futile devices.
He passed away years ago when my mother was young, very young. Her vitality and youth started to fade. She plunged into depression. The despair, grief and pain left her numb. She was in denial for a very very long time but as time passed she began to comprehend not only her loss, her beloved’s passing, her lost years but also that life will have to be found again, that life will have to be given meaning and purpose and beauty again. For life is intrinsically beautiful. She learned that in a long time but learn she did, embrace this inherent reality she did. Her constant consisted of the steadfastness that she exercised in her mind and in her unwavering spirit.
She was crushed when the holistic and fulfilling companionship, partnership, the emotional support that she had grown so accustomed to were all gone in an abrupt moment of intimacy, he passed away while professing his love for her. She was there.
She is still here.
She promised him to take care of their creations, in other words, their children. And she gave all of her to them while retaining her incisive sense of individuality. She gave all of her to her children’s dreams, aspirations, she helped them stand up on their feet, live all their dreams in a threatening and suffocating society while helping them to come to terms with the loss of their beloved, most loving, maternal father.
And she did it all by herself without any external support or assistance.
She did it listening to old Hindi songs that they used to listen together for hours on end and she forever remained his eternal love, the woman of his dreams as is characteristic of the classic French love songs.
And as Eddie Redmayne who played the late legendary physicist Professor Stephen Hawking, in the movie ‘A theory of everything’, in one of the last scenes while receiving an honour from the Queen, looking at their children walking towards Redmayne (Stephen) and his then wife Felicity (Jane), says to her, “Look what we made”. I am certain that my father in some far off parallel universe must be whispering to my mother the same, “Look what we have made, look what you’ve achieved. Look how fortunate I was as a man to have had a person, a woman like you to love me and build a family with me and even after my departure, you kept us both alive by being your unique self that I have the privilege to be a permanent part of and you made us immortal through your infinite love and invincible strength. I am sorry I left too soon and I miss you too and I know that I will be whole again when you’re in my arms forever and for good.”