Tuesday, 14 April 2009
Shaune whipped out the zoom lens tonight to get a close-up of this pregnant mama Robin. I've been trying to get Deaglan to notice the different birds that come into our yard. It paid off because he squealed with recognition when he saw her land on our deck.
There were also some doves in our small garden snacking on something - Shaune hopes not his garlic shoots which have started to make an appearance.
It made me think about my birth mother. Her name was Cobu. I don't remember her face all that well - it's been just over 30 years since I last saw it. It was the night that my sister and I had our very first ride in a car.
By that time, our mother, Cobu had been living in the streets with our two baby sisters surviving by cooking meals for people in exchange for scraps of food to feed her babies. Our father had kicked her out of the little mud hut telling her she had to take the babies and leave us two older girls with him to help out. She had allegedly been unfaithful to him. That's what he told all of the neighbours. That's what I believed for a long time.
Our family was extremely poor, my father pulled a rickshaw for a living, and we were Muslim. After she left, we rarely saw our mother. I remember feeling angry at her for not coming back. I was so young. A few times one of her brothers would come and take us to her when our father wasn't around. I remember pleading with her to come home or at least take us with her. It must have been so hard for her to hear us cry.
Then one day she had us brought to her again. This time she took us to a place where a Canadian woman fed us. This woman was either a missionary or a social worker and she told my mother that there was a place she could take my sister and me. A place where we would be safe, clothed and fed. My mother knew that we had not been eating, she knew that we had been begging on the streets, and she knew that she had to do something. I don't think it happened that day but soon after we were again brought to that place. This time we were bathed and given clothes. There are so many details about this that I remember because the experience was so fresh and different from what we had been living...and it was the last time I ever saw Cobu.
My older sister and I were taken to an orphanage in Dhaka (a two day boat ride away). We never saw or heard from our mother again. Once in the orphanage we were adopted within several months and flown to Canada.
I never appreciated her life as much as when I had my own child. It's clear to me that the reason our father exiled her from our home was because she kept giving birth to daughters. The shame that it brought to him he put on her by telling everyone including us that she was unfaithful. I can't imagine the courage it took to find a way to save our lives, to give us up because it would give us a better life than the one we were living.
When I saw the pregnant mama Robin tonight and the snacking doves I thought about her. I thought about her while I fed my baby, while I read him a story, while I bathed him and rocked him to sleep. I thought about how her name Cobu means dove in Bengali.