"I love you, mom," whispered Yusuf as he wrapped the soft pashmina shawl around his mother's shoulders. The vibrant peach contrasted with the dark rings that had grown under her eyes lately, but their brightness had not faded.
Her eyes lit up as she stroked the delicate embroidery on the edge of the shawl, "And this...Yusuf?"
Yusuf looked at her with the excitement of a young boy unpacking his first bicycle, "Wait ma...there's more," he cried, as he removed a burgundy jewellery box. Presenting it in front of his mother, like they were the crown jewels, he gingerly lifted the lid to reveal a string of exquisite cultured pearls, delicately strung together with small black pearls breaking the shimmer of the white pearls.
"Yusuf!" exclaimed his mother, her eyes brimming, "What's all this?"
Yusuf stepped back and looked at his mother holding the pearl necklace close to her chest, admiring it, "Mom, you always wanted a pearl necklace...."
"But it must have cost you a small fortune," said Saffiyah as she held the pearls up to the light, studying the delicate changes of colour as she turned the necklace, "Why now...what's special?"
"It's my mother's day!" he beamed.
"Er..," began Saffiyah as she craned her neck to look at the calendar behind her, "But it's not mother's day. Not for a while, yet?" a puzzled look settling on her face.
"I didn't say it was Mother's day," replied Yusuf, "I said it was MY mother's day. But let me explain...."
"You remember I told you about Nasser who recently moved here from the coast?"
Saffiyah nodded in acknowledgement.
Yusuf paused to pour some tea, adding a sugar to each cup, handing one to his mother he continued, "Wiping a tear from his eye he told me that his mother passed away when he was only five years old. He said that he could still remember the smell of her hair after she washed it, but remembered little else."
Yusuf watched his mother sipping her tea and noticed just how wrinkled her hands had become...
"After Nasser's mother passed away he lived in the care of his aunties. They were good to him and cared for him as one of their own. They bought him what he needed and he had much of what he needed. Then he told me "You know, Joe, no one can replace the embrace of a mother. And no one can replace the du'a (prayer) of a mother. I lost that dua a long time ago." Then I thought of all the du'as you make for me - how often when I rush out of the house you always say, "Yusuf, slow down, Allah Ta'ala be with you!" "Allah Hafiz." "Yusuf, may Allah Ta'ala make your children the coolness of your eye."
"Ma...I never really cherished those du'as until I heard Nasser's story," said Yusuf, dabbing his eye with a tissue, "I never knew that those were treasures beyond measure. And then it made some sense to me of what Sheikh said when he quoted 'Abdullah Ibn 'Abbas (RA), "If any Muslim obeys Allah regarding his parents, Allah will open two gates of the Garden for him. If there is only one parent, then one gate will be opened. If one of them is angry, then Allah will not be pleased with him until that parent is pleased with him." (Weak Hadeeth, not to be narrated without mentioning this.)
"And when Nasser told me – 'Joe (as Yusuf was referred to by his friends), you know, I will never be able to call anyone in this world Mum, and I will never know the embrace of a mother. You still have it, Joe, value it, treasure it,' I realised that what Allah had favoured me with was something so special that I couldn't just celebrate it once a year and call it mother's day. I decided that from now MY Mother's day will be Every Day! - Yesterday, today and tomorrow will all be mother's day. I can never repay you, but I know the heart of a mother asks for no repayment. And...if I can do nothing else for my mother's day then I will at least thank Allah that he allowed my door of du'a to be open for one more day."
"Forgive me ma....." Yusuf choked, "I need to do so much more for you...."
Saffiyah clasped his hands and stroked his face, "You are a good son, Yusuf, Allah Ta'ala will grant you lots of goodness in this world and the next."