Dear God, says an Atheist Mother

Dear God, says an Atheist Mother

I was startled at my own discovery, though I can never really call it a discovery since it was there in front of my eyes all the time.

The very first time I saw her in pain, I could do nothing but instinctively I held her hands, I caressed her cheeks and kissed her forearms. And then, that was all I had been doing for years until she could talk about whatever bothered her.

Now, she has the capability to express her grief, her pain, agony, but she won't say it in words.

Bobby, Ahmet and I, we try so hard.

We ask her questions, all sorts of questions.

Irsa, is it me?

Is it your daddy?

Did we do anything wrong with you?

Did someone break you apart like this?

Is it your school?

But, she won't tell us, she won't say anything. And now, while discovering all sorts of blades, sharp objects from her room, while throwing bottles of sleeping pills and flushing cough syrups into the toilet. Now, I stand in the middle of her room, my head spinning with the possible misuse of these products by her, the harm she must have caused to herself, her hidden suicide notes breaking my heart. I stand and wonder, when was the last time I had held irsa's hands and looked deep into her eyes – not to find the reasons for her despair but just to let her know that if she would lose any ounce of strength she could always borrow some from me. I wonder when was the last time I had caressed her cheeks and kissed her forearms, and I could hardly remember giving her a hug past her 3rd grade.

I never knew I would spend the life of an Atheist mother hoping that Faith and Religion could heal the chronic Depression of my only daughter, my rainbow, my firstborn, the one who made me mother for the very first time.

She didn't need our questions, she didn't want us to interrogate her at the dinner table for why she felt the way she felt, she didn't want us to dig inside her soul in hope of some reason behind her despair. What she wanted was, a hug, a kiss, someone to hold onto when she couldn't fall asleep. Aren't we all wired in the same way? Don't all of us feel much better when touched rather than spoken to in times of despair?

But for Irsa, it wasn't just passing despair.

Irsa was the one who made me mother for the first time.

She was my very first baby, my rainbow, my first born, the first one to kick through the insides of my belly, the first one to feel the warmth of my womb while sucking unto her tiny thumb, the first one to be pulled out of me, the first tiny little thing with her tiny little feet walking the damp soil of our backyard and indeed she was the first one who made Ahmet cry so much that he nearly forgot how to breath. First Borns are special for mothers and they are taken seriously a great deal.

She changed mine and Ahmet's life forever, but not in the ways that we've had imagined.

Bobby was five years old.

Irsa was seven.

It was a lazy Sunday afternoon where I and Ahmet played Luddo and other board games and our children took sides and helped us win by professing clever cheating techniques.

Usually, we used to fight and argue like children and our kids were the silent spectators.

But, that day, Irsa and Bobby broke into a fight which eventually got worse and they started hurting each other physically. And I don't know why but suddenly Irsa let him go and started crying. And it was not the way a child would cry. We three held her and kept reassuring her that it was fine, we kept looking for any physical harm that Bobby may have caused her, we kept asking her the reasons. Little did we know that it would continue throughout her life; we kept asking her questions, kept looking for physical reasons and kept reassuring her but never found a reason. And then, weeping and shaking hard lying on the carpet, she said she wanted to offer a prayer, Namaz.

And that's how it all began.

Ahmet's parents and grandparents were atheists and he himself was a liberal Muslim. I, on the other hand, had never taken interest in religion and never really learnt much about it, the namaz or the sacred text taught by my Aunt was long forgotten by me and one of the most important reason for marrying Ahmet was that he had little to no interest in religion.

How could she ask for protection and safety from someone she was so afraid of?

I never knew I would spend the life of an Atheist mother hoping that Faith and Religion could heal the chronic Depression of my only daughter, my rainbow, my firstborn, the one who made me mother for the very first time.

Things got worse, they started with her coming back from school one day, having lunch with us without saying a word and for no apparent reason at all, drinking down entire bottle of cough syrup. Ahmet looked for explanations of her behavior while going through emergency at the hospital nearly every month while I struggled with finding the right Quran and Namaz teacher for her.

Somehow, between gulping down cough syrups, sleeping pills, cutting herself and learning Islam, she learnt how to walk, she learnt how to balance life with death. I struggled with my reasoning while she urged me to learn Namaz and perform it with her. She defended such beliefs which I had always found against the humanity and asked me to worship a God with her, whom I could never approve of. I hated and loved her every time she kept looking for refuge in a God from whom she felt scared to death.

How could she ask for protection and safety from someone she was so afraid of?

I tried to soften my skepticism on God and told her how I found goodness and optimism in nature, in words, in work of Art. But she looked at me like I'm doomed, like I'm going to hell. Me? Going to hell? With a daughter suffering from depression and countless attempted suicides, I don't give a damn where do I go after I die, I've had my fair share of hell on earth.

It's been ten years that despite of her family, Salah and Quran teachers, and devoted mental health professionals, she took her own life.

But I have no regret when I say this that it was her faith, her belief in God that kept her alive for 25 years of her life with Depression. It was her faith that kept her smooth and she tore many suicide letters, aborted the drink-it-all cough syrup missions and unzipped her morbid thoughts which she won't share otherwise. Her faith, which I could never understand, but would certainly respect for my entire life.

It's been ten years, whenever there is a call for prayer from the Mosque, somehow I remember my first born. Five times a day!

Zaufishan Qureshi

Zaufishan Qureshi

The writer is a psychologist and freelance writer for Psychology Tomorrow Magazine (USA). She is currently running her own consultancy that provides services related to psychosocial betterment of our society.


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سزائے تماشائے شہرِ طلسم

رفاقت حیات: کچھ دیر کے لیے، نجانے کتنی دیر کے لیے اس کے حواس کا تعلق اپنے گردوپیش کی آزاروں بھری دنیا سے کٹ گیااور اس کا وجود کچھ وقت کے لیے ہی سہی اسے پہنچنے والی اذیت اور ہزیمت فراموش کرنے میں کامیاب ہوا، جس کی وجہ سے اس کا آئندہ کا عالم ِخیال و احساس پوری طرح تہہ و بالا ہونے والا تھا۔

تنہائی پسند (تصنیف حیدر)

آپ نے کبھی ٹھہرے ہوئے پانی کا حسن دیکھا ہے، ایسا شفاف اور گہری نیند میں ڈوبا ہوا پانی، جس

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