By Sara Danial
Tue, 05, 23

The beautiful and unparalleled bond of love shared between kids and mothers is honoured and celebrated on Mother’s Day, every year in May. This week, in our special Mother’s Day feature, the author pays tribute to her mum in a heart-warming way. Read on…


I adore every mum. You are great. You are unique. You are irreplaceable. At the end of the day, love is love whether you are a single or a married mother, working mother or stay-at-home mum. All of it is unconditional and obvious, but like millions of other children, I was raised by one mother. There has always been the perception that having several families interferes with the children’s ability to grow as individuals. It all comes down to a parent’s unwavering love and undivided devotion, and I consider myself incredibly lucky to have experienced both – the mother I didn’t choose, and the circumstances outside of our control.


As a young girl, I was over-ambitious. Stagnation was the death of my efforts. Every time I felt I am in a status quo, I tried to jump, I wanted to move, and I attempted to steer. And this constant struggle to achieve something better than the last was a tad overwhelming for a toothless wonder. Mum counselled, “It will happen when the time is right.” That two o’clock will arrive at two o’clock. Not before. Not after. Impeccable logic and nothing against it.

But like all children, the incessant questions continued. “But shouldn’t you make the time right?” Nonplussed but relieved that I didn’t ask her how much ammunition black vigos carry; she looked far into a blank wall, contemplating how to manoeuvre through this phase called parenting, a rebel. She reconciled and told me how the same clock can have different times for everyone. Mothering nailed.

The author with her daughter
The author with her daughter

The next time we spoke about it was during the third decade of my life. And guess what, I was still waiting for the right time. Maybe it crossed and I didn’t realise, in my struggle to see beyond what I had thought was right at 25. But the hard reality had rubbed on me way earlier. Some simply have started with the right. Some must work hard towards the right. All of us have different beginnings – some abundant, others humble. Once again, a worrying pattern was carving. I could deal with the unforgiving nature of time that befalls a mother, and the possible delay. But an unfair playing field was deeply problematic for the female parent. Something had to be done. And so, a fresh and unending barrage of questions began once again, where I landed in a career featured by legacy, heritage, birth right, entitlement – writing. Almost feudal to break into. I want to write a bulk of substance that, today, my mother wouldn’t approve of. Intrigued, she’d say, “This is good, but it’s questionable.” I asked her why. With a pat, she answered, “It’s easy for others; they have huge cars, and guns. They can go back to black vigos and ammunition.”

So, while others had room for making mistakes, every move I trod on was carefully calculated, and well planned, with a concrete output conducive to what followed next. Nothing was left to chance. No margin of error. Because if I fell, there was no cushion to take the blow. The struggle was continuous. The questions remained unanswered. But I kept asking, much to many people’s dismay.

And then, the divine timing is, of course, unparalleled, unmatched, unequalled. I was graced with being a mother myself, and ended up delving into another unearthly, profound conversation. “It is not where you start but where we are headed that matters the most,” she would say. What followed was the story of the slope.

The author’s mother with her grandchildren
The author’s mother with her grandchildren

Drawing on some basic math, the story starts with the formula for a line. The intercept is the beginning of the line. It can have a high or a low starting point. The slope can be positively or negatively inclined. All of us begin with different intercepts in life - with different life endowments. Some are born with high intercepts, full of prospects. Others yet begin with circumstances that are challenging and temporarily seem rather unfair. We then evolve along a slope of personal progress. “Your future will be determined far less by your intercept and much more by your slope.” That is one piece of advice I will hold dear. The potential is in the beggar, the sinner, and the weak. It is in the fisherman, the tax collector, and even the evangelist. Regardless of where we start, what we do with what we are given is priceless. While the world will force you to focus on the intercept, it is the slope that necessitates all the effort. In Mother Nature’s calculus, it is our endeavours that have the power to help us turn our slopes – upward or downward.

Mum prepared me for both – it was comforting for those like me who struggled. It may render a pause to those who grew up privileged. Mum had a lesson for both, and I would address both separately. Those who begin with difficult circumstances, limited access to education, challenging family situations or physical disabilities, mental health constraints, or strong genetic predispositions – recognise that your struggles are not unbeknownst. We are succoured according to our infirmities. Focus on where you are headed, not where you began. It would be erroneous to flout your circumstances. Yes, they are real but can cause it to constrain your ability to choose – better, for yourself. It is tempting to confuse empathy and concern for the situation you start with, with a desire to lower standards.


But, I eventually realised that the most powerful way to navigate through life and realise my potential is to never lower my expectations. With everything I knew to do, I focused on my potential, and each step began to elevate my slope. My growth was gradual but steady. It didn’t come easy. It didn’t come naturally. I had to work hard, lose a lot, gain still more, make tough decisions that I wasn’t ready or willing to make, to climb the slope. With much less at my disposal. But then, who said it’d be easy?

Few mothers teach hard lessons. Most shower their children with immense love, ensuring their daughters get the crème de la crème at their homes for the first half of their lives. Because who knows what’s destined for them once they marry? And rightly so. Plenty of them pamper them – fulfilling every wish mouthed by the children, sacrificing their own desires all the while. It takes courage to put your children through something you don’t want to – to wish the best for them but prepare them for the worst, come what may.

And then, two cents of counsel for those with elevated intercepts. Some humility? For circumstances, one may not have created oneself – drinking from wells that you did not dig, and warming yourself by fires you didn’t build. If one fails to reseed the fields planted by others, it is the equivalent of returning a talent without increase. Also, often, a high intercept can deceive you into feeling that one is thriving, when, in fact, the inner slope may be quite stagnant.

I, once, read that the most successful people are the humblest – they are confident enough to willingly accept and seek correction.

The writer is a communication

specialist and a freelance journalist based in Karachi. She can be reached at

So, as a strong woman, raised by a stronger woman, here is a letter to thank you richly:

Dear Mama,

Thank you for keeping a strong front when it felt like the walls were crumbling.

Thank you for all your hard work in making sure we have delicious food on the table and appropriate clothing on our backs.

Thank you for disturbing your dear sleep to make us breakfast, and send us off to school. Thank you for preparing dinner every night and helping us with our schoolwork.

Thank you for being a venting jar in addition to being a mother to a child who coined ‘rebel parenting’. Thank you for being a personal chef. And a life professor.


I wish I could be there to make a hot cup of morning tea and be lazy with you all day; I wish I could buy you everything in Pottery Barn that you always longed for. Because you were too busy having to play dad.

Although not stringently, or religiously inclined, every day, I thank God for the sacrifices you made for the family. It was never about what was going to be the theme for our next birthday, or what we were going to wear coming Eid. It was about harsh life lessons that you ensured were drilled from the very beginning, not because you had a hard life, but because you wanted us to learn how to respond to one.

You see, it is not only that we as mothers bear, but we continue bearing with children. It is not only the prenatal carrying but the lifelong carrying that makes mothering such a staggering feat. Of course, there are heart-breaking exceptions, but most mothers know intuitively, instinctively that this is a sacred trust of the highest order. The weight of that realisation, especially on young maternal shoulders such as myself, can be very daunting.

But what a wonderful thing you have done as Mama. You have given birth and nurtured. You have entered into a pact with God to give mortal experience to us. We are His children and we are yours, flesh of your flesh, for whom He will hold you responsible. You have rejoiced over us and you have sorrowed. We brought you happiness as no one else could. We brought you pain as none other could.

By and large, a remarkable job. I have said many times that I believe you have been the finest woman I have known. Because we are better educated; we are better motivated; we live the word of wisdom; we try to do the right thing. We are bright and able, clean and fresh, attractive and smart.

As you grow old, and your hair turns white and your body grows weary, when you are prone to sit in a rocker and contemplate on the things of your life, nothing will be as important as the question of how your children have turned out. It will not be the money you have made. It will not be the cars you have owned. It will not be the large house in which you live. The searing question that will cross your mind time and again will be, ‘How well have my children done’?

And I hope your answer is remotely close to ‘not bad’.