In Loving Memory of a Mother: Sithy Fowzia Razak

BY IMTIYAZ RAZAK

rose redJanuary 14, 2014 marks the 70th birthday of my beloved late mom–Sithy Fowzia Razak, a simple woman who was born in Sri Lanka and gave her best to her kids after her husband [my beloved dad, Razak] passed away at Mecca while he was performing Umrah in Saudi Arabia.

Generally speaking, studies on parenthood suggest some interesting links between kids’ development and a mother’s role. I n my life, I experienced what studies had suggested.  There are many things that I can discuss and write books about her simple life.  One of the things is her commitment and resolve to help her kids to come out of poverty and to seek decent education. Actually she did and I am one of her successful models.

There were some Tiger mom approaches and actions from her that I hated.  One of the things I often hated when I was kid is her strictness at my siblings, especially at me and me.

To me, she is a tiger mom. I hated it then, but I realize now that it helped me a lot to grow into what I am today. I am not suggesting that “tiger mom” model is the perfect one, but in different societies, different people behave differently to perform well and to gain better results. The tiger mom model worked for us, [like it works in China for many parents].

My parents, especially my mom taught me that you have to work hard to get what you want.  Sometimes you’ll have to follow rules that you don’t like.  This was particularly tough for me when I grew up because I had begun to challenge some myths related to my religion and social order.

The status quo I had then may not be popular among kids who grow up in the present times, particularly in the west, but it was what it is for me then. And I am enjoying the results. Another key lesson from her is that we [her kids] should show compassion and heart to the poor and weaker. And further to do whatever we could in our own capacity to ease the sufferings of the poor. I remember when I was in high school—Zahira College, Colombo; I tried to explain to her how societies work. The good news is that she understood my position and approved of my journey to a better world. There are so many beautiful contributions she made to my life.

One such position that makes me still proud of her is her strict position on smoking.  I remember when I was in the middle school, I smoked once in the bathroom at my home in Colombo, Sri Lanka. She discovered it, and the punishment I got from her was not pleasant, but I am happy that I even do not know how to smoke now.

I still remember that my mom once told me not to do three things. They are,

1) no smoking

2) no wine or beer [alcohol]

3) no wife beating

I have been strictly keeping my promise on 1 and 3. But struggled with no 2. I remember, my very first time communication with wine occurred when I was in China: the country that changed my life for years to come.

A few last words. You may get more than one girl friend, wife, female friend, but ONLY ONE mom. Love her and respect her. I remember reading an Islamic sources suggest something like “Jannah (Heaven) lies under your mother’s feet”

May the departed soul of my beautiful mom rest in peace.

Gaya’s Postscript: Thank you Imtiyaz for sharing this.  This past year two friends lost their old mums and we lost another friend who was a mum.  In remembering them I realised how these ‘moms’ included me in their lives as a friend of their daughter and how the memories of all these families and homes came flooding back from Colombo in the painful knowledge that it hurts not to be there at the funerals.  What made it all the more poignant now is the realisation that these homes were Muslim-Tamil mixed, Sinhalese and Tamil-Chinese homes. These moms were precious and the island nation has a tender reminder : That we are better for having known these different cultures intimately in our growing up days.  To remind us of the rich cultural diverse legacy of what we have inherited as Sri Lankan descendants and not only of what we have lost.  I would like to receive more ‘in memoriam’ s from the Diaspora and from Sri Lankans at home of surrogate parents and family who have passed on and write a few of my own.

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