"Inshallah, if God lets us live that long"
My mother wakes up before the rest of us every morning, makes coffee and very often bread too. I wake up late; I'm so happy as I awake to these aromas that are so familiar and so good. I sit at the table, my mind wandering and drink my coffee slowly, as if I want time to stop.
I munch the hot bread hungrily and watch my mother cooking lunch, completely relaxed. I look at her beautiful hands and her wrinkles. How can she be so calm?
I often think about ends, while she always thinks of beginnings.
She wants me to get married as soon as possible, have a family, bear a child or two, but no more than that, because she knows I'm not up to bringing up children. I can hear her asking me silently and repeatedly, "How can it be that you haven't found the right man? How can it be that a girl like you, who doesn't take a break all year long, can't create opportunities and take advantage of them?" In her silence she says, "If I were you, I would have married a government minister."
That's all I need!
I remember that I have lots of things to do today. The day won't be long enough. I should have woken up early. My mother says, "The early bird catches the worm." I tell myself that it doesn't matter, I'll be patient. I'll do what I can and besides, there's no need for careful planning when we're surrounded by absurdities on all sides.
I get dressed and then, in front of the mirror, I put some kohl on my eyes. I like to give my eyes some attention, to see in them the sparkle that helps me muster some confidence. My mother walks past and repeats what she usually says: "Don't put anything on your face, my dear. You're more beautiful without that muck!"
I smile as usual, gather all my stuff: my computer, handbag and other things. Before I get into the car she reminds me to be careful on the road and not to be too late, as I am every night, then she ends her advice by complaining that I work too much, never relax and that I would do better to find another job, or a man who would save me the trouble. I nod in agreement. Long ago I stopped expressing any opinion or objecting to the way my mother sees success. Deep down inside I sneer at the idea that marriage would be more convenient.