Part 2 – This woman.
This woman is my mother. Anyone who knows me knows how much I love her. I never shut up about it in fact. And while I can admit that my bond to her is beyond the normal mother/daughter kind, albeit very extreme, there are so many reasons to love this woman and here are just a few….
This woman was only sixteen years old when she was whisked away from her native country India to an arranged marriage with a man twice her age. Her first taste of Canada was way up North in Gagnon, Quebec. Life was so vastly different in the country she would later call home. The weather was cold, the people unfamiliar and the food so foreign to her that even getting something as simple as yogurt was beyond the grasp of anyone around her. And yet, she adapted, while never losing touch with her culture.
This woman did not want strangers to raise her kids. She wanted to keep them by her side so even as a young seventeen year old mother, she undertook family life while beginning a business that would endure five decades largely due to her dedication and sacrifice. She made lunches for her kids, made home cooked meals for her family while running a business, learning accounting, stocking shelves, being a wife and keeping her house in order. She did it all while wearing a sari, staying in contact with her family in India (long before Facebook and text messaging) and adjusting to life in a country with harsh seasons she had never experienced before.
This woman came from a culture and lived in a time when women didn’t run a business. That was for men. And yet she found a way to do it. As I grew up, I would watch her talk to customers with authority and directness. She never shrunk from outside pressure. I can vividly remember a customer coming into the store spewing racist hatred towards us. My mother didn’t hesitate and she didn’t cower. She stood up to him though he was twice her size firmly telling him where to go (which you can imagine wasn’t a pleasant place 🙂 )
This woman bought me art supplies and an easel when she saw that I could draw. She bought me my first typewriter when she saw that I could write. She bought me anything I asked for and denied herself things she wanted so that her kids could have whatever their heart’s desired.This woman endured countless lectures and pressure from her extended family about the fact that I wasn’t married. She went against age old convention and her family’s wishes to protect our choices in life and let us find our way in our own time. And while she was not ecstatic about the fact that I wanted to publish a book about sex, she still supported me and stood by my side at my book launch proudly standing up for me to any of those same naysayers who thought it unbecoming of a single Desi girl.
This woman has done more for me than any other human being I know. She has endured a life so hard it would make many people cave under the pressure and yet somehow, most incredibly, she continually climbs over every obstacle put in her path with still more love in her heart and not one ounce of bitterness. And have I mentioned that she has a wicked sense of humour? It’s the kind of down-and-dirty humour that pierces through convention and really affirms to me that we were cut from the same cloth 🙂
There is no human being that I love more than this woman. When I saw that running the business was getting to be too much for her, I came home to take over the store for the third time in it’s history and to be close to her again. Though running Aziz & Company was never my dream, it has been my privilege to facilitate it’s endurance and be a part of it’s legacy. And it will be even greater still to stand by this woman I know as my mother, my mentor, my touchstone, my guiding light, my best friend, as she heads into the retirement of her dreams. ❤