How to Live with Elders Without Tranquilizing Them

     
 

“Work is the refuge of people who have nothing better to do” ~ Oscar Wilde About six or seven years ago, when my brother Ade started making serious money, he suggested our mother should stay home to relax and enjoy her retirement.

Everyone loved the idea, except that it did not go so well with her.

Actually, it drove her mad. Seriously, being replaced by a younger woman was something, staying at home moping about it when the kids are all grown up was a WHOLE other kind of crazy. I'm sorry for everyone who had lost their faiths in those days.

Then, four years ago, she finally got her business started up, the thing that made it legal for her to run around town and country with the dignity of a free man.

It is worth to mention that it was also around that time when I started believing in a God again.

When mother was cornered with hectic work, dealing with bedus and bookings, she bothered nobody. She complained all the day, but it was CLEARLY not about us. Bedus and bookings are just migrant fairies from WorkingLand.

As soon as vacation season comes, she starts reciting from the Book of Faults. Faults by the people who live with her, then by the people who live on the phone (as far as Bali and Jatibarang and North Carolina), then the people who no longer live, like my grandparents or her former partners, and eventually by her own until she is paralyzed with faults. Or until vacation season ends.

Do you see my point? My two points actually.

1. Here is to girl power, and boys who want to learn from it.

My mother is a hyperactive mutawwifa; she handles group accommodations, meals and transportation between Jeddah, Meccah and Madinah. In a way, mutawwifs secure the earthly matters for pilgrims so that pilgrims can concentrate on securing their path to heaven. Since going heaven is expensive and complicated, God generously rewards everyone who work on it. I mean, REALLY generously. In Riyals, Dollars and Rupiahs, okay?

Let all of that sink in and then reconsider mother's status as a foreigner and a middle-aged, divorced woman living in Saudi. Everything they say about gender discrimination in Saudi? Half of it was caused by mother's business successes.

2. Nothing beats the blues like work.

People who work with their hands, reach God with their hearts. If idleness is the devil's playground, then work is where God celebrates creating us. Hallelujah, mankind was not a complete mistake after all.

To live sanely is to work; to have something and anything done. Whether it is giving flyers in malls or driving for someone. Whether it is parenting and keeping house or taking pictures and movie making. It is all service. Even if it physically hurts, or does not seem to make sense.

Wait, what am I saying. Of course it makes sense! It makes absolute sense now that we did not stick to the first plan of keeping our mother at home معززة مكرمة بس تجننّا معاها honored and revered but driving all of us crazy along with her.

 
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