Apr/May 2004  •   Spotlight

The Song Says Keep Smiling

by Hazera Forth

Someone has given your mum the DVD of Hason Raja. You show her how to use her DVD player, and she says you should sit a while and watch, wait for the song he sings to the girl. He is a playboy; he descends from a great Hindu Warrior. Stay a while, watch with me, wait for the next song, it is about the death of his brother. Now wait, his father dies too, he must take care of his father's estate, he has such a responsibility, he must grow up.

She watches you putting on your bright red scarf, the one from your English mother-in-law, then your coat. She watches you putting on your shoes.

She offers you tea, but you must get home. It's Shrove Tuesday, and you want to make pancakes for your husband. She knows you won't refuse milk, the prophet's favourite drink, so you drink the milk, slowly. It's semi-skimmed. She has taken the doctor's advice. She won't let any salt pass her lips, or cholesterol. She eats mostly fish, or whatever she can manage to chew. She'll be having two molars out in March. She wants to know if she will be sedated. She doesn't want to be sedated.

The next song comes on, and her attention is back on Hason Raja, the main character, the son. He is embracing his mother. Your mother says it lifts her mood, it takes her mind off her children. She has not spoken to your brother since August 7th. She has counted.

She laughs when Hason Raja is scolded by his mother. Never too old, none of you, she says.

So, you offer to take her to the video shop. She wants a DVD about Medina, about the life of Mohammed. She wants you to learn from his examples, the Sunnah and his wife, who was the fourth most perfect woman created (after Eve, the wife of a Pharaoh, and the Virgin Mary).

She asks you to rewind to the part where he sings to the girl. You remember then, the songs you heard when you were three, four, five, but didn't know the words to, the ones you can still hum, like "Yeh Dosti" from Sholay and "Purdah Se Purdah" from Aamer Akbar Anthony. Your heart twinges at the reminder. Memories of the way things were before. So, you make wishes.

And your mother complains she has yet to see the offspring of her last-born. Is there something wrong with you, or is it your husband? Why don't you see a doctor. Is something out of place?

You want it to happen soon, too. Before she dies, so at least you will have done something right, something to make her smile, instead of just the songs.