All images of flood victims are heartbreaking. But it is the faces of the mothers that keep me awake at night. I see the women of my mother country and I instinctively think of my own mom.
My mother is every bit a Pakistani woman. Her stern demeanor tries to hush up her inner tenderness. My siblings and I were raised on a rigid routine, almost army-like, but what I remember most about my childhood are my mom’s smiles when I made her happy. I like to think I’ve inherited her smile, something she hides at first but can’t suppress, until it lights up her entire face and the whole family. I have seen her face when she is hurt and upset, and it pierces my heart. As Pakistanis, we love our mothers fiercely. It is them who we think of in pain, and it is them we credit for our accomplishments. A favorite saying, “no success exists without a mother’s blessing” rings true.
These thoughts ran through my mind as I read about women in the “tent cities.” Women sat and stared at the walls, without speaking. Many of these women had watched their children die or had lost them somewhere along the evacuation and settling into camps. This level of trauma is beyond comprehension. Of the women blessed enough to have their entire families with them, the lack of food, clothing or a dry place to sleep kept them anxious and desperate. They say that a mother is the soul of a family. Then these women are the soul of Pakistan.
We need their blessing.
Once all the flood victim efforts are underway and we are helping to set up the families, we must begin with the women. They will know how to do the most with the supplies given and waste nothing. They will put their entire families ahead of them, as Pakistani mothers do. They will never complain but comfort their loved ones, promising to take care of them. We have to do what we can for them, so they may do what they can for families.
It is the job of the government to step up and do as much as it can, but this crisis is bigger than that. It requires every single Pakistani to do his or her part. This is our country, and she is our responsibility. The devastation of the floods has not received the international coverage other disasters have, but there is one glimmer of hope. Stunned Pakistanis all across the world, expats who had left 20, 30, 40 years ago, have donated supplies and money. This is a beautiful spirit of nationalism and a very genuine love for Pakistan. We all must do our part, nahin, we must all do more than we can, and we should start with the mothers. Perhaps it is their prayers alone that can bring about the peaceful future Pakistan deserves.