KARACHI: Every year, billions of people across the globe celebrate Mother's Day with great zeal and fervour to honour the love, kindness, and sacrifices that mothers render for their children. The spread of the Covid-19 and the subsequent global lockdown, however, has put a bit of a damper on the occasion, making it difficult to celebrate it traditionally.
While a lot of people will have to find new, more innovative ways to celebrate this year in the wake of social distancing and home-bound activities, the looming uncertainty of life has made the occasion all the more special for many individuals out there.
More important than ever before
Sehrish, a nurse who is currently deployed at the Covid-19 isolation ward at a government hospital in Karachi, says that Mother's Day did not hold much of a significance for her in the past. But after serving on the frontline to combat the coronavirus and putting her life at stake on a daily basis, the meaning of the day has suddenly changed for her.
“I was one of those Pakistanis who would treat the occasion like any other day and would dismiss it as a western concept. I would always say: “Why should we dedicate one day to mothers when every day should be mother's day?” Sehrish, who chose to be identified by her first name only,” said.
“This year, however, the fear of losing my loved ones or succumbing to the virus myself has made me realise how dedicating an international day to honour our mothers is a beautiful concept. If I survive the virus, I will never take such small yet important things in life for granted again.”
Reflecting on the past
Akin to Sehrish, Dr Romaisa Rizwan -- a medical officer who is currently volunteering at the Karachi Expo Centre's Field Isolation Centre for coronavirus patients -- thinks that acknowledging the love and sacrifices of mothers is of utmost importance.
“Every year, my sister and I would surprise our mother at midnight with a cake, flowers, and gifts. In the afternoon, we would take her out for lunch and watch a movie. This was our way of showing our love and gratitude,” Dr Romaisa said.
“Now, we are in the middle of a deadly pandemic; malls, restaurants, and cinemas are closed so we will not be able to take mama out. This year, my mother's main concern is not to select her favourite restaurant or movie but she is only worried about my safety because I am a frontline doctor.”
Dr Natasha Khalid, resident physician (PGY2) in internal medicine at a private hospital in Karachi, expressed similar sentiments. She said that she has been celebrating Mother's Day since the age of 10 and not being able to do anything special for her mother this year is a big disappointment.
“My brother and I would always make sure to give something to our mother on her special day – even if it's a small mug – as a token of acknowledgment,” Dr Natasha said. “The situation is quite different now. Owing to my tough duty hours amid the pandemic, I can't even take time out to bake a cake for my mother. However, I would like to let her know that even though I am busy, I haven't forgotten her special day and how much I love her,” she said.
Showing care through social distancing
Speaking to The Express Tribune, Dr Kulsoom Bano Mehdi, a medical officer at the Aga Khan University Hospital, said that she always looked up to her mother because of her strong and resilient personality.
“I have always seen my mom standing tall in difficult times. When I was positioned in the coronavirus ward of the hospital and I shared my concerns with my parents, it was my mom who gave me the courage to accept the challenge, deepen my trust in God, and carry on with my duties,” she said.
Dr Kulsoom added that she has not been able to see her mother for almost two months because of her tough duty hours.
“This year, I will celebrate Mother's Day by observing social distancing and making her proud of me by staying true to this noble profession,” she said. “I have never been an expressive daughter but I really miss my mom and I hope to reunite with her soon.”
Similarly, Dr Romaisa Rizwan said that it has been extremely challenging for her to work closely with the patients while also taking extra precautions so that she is not exposed to the virus, for the sake of her own and her family's safety.
“When I go home after a tough day at work, I prefer to stay in my room because I am working in the coronavirus red zone and I don't want to threaten my family's health in any way,” she said.
“I would like to tell my mother that I love her a lot. Whoever I am and wherever I stand today would have never have been possible without my mother's love, encouragement, support and, most importantly, her prayers.”
“She moulded me into this brave and compassionate person who is risking her own life to help humanity. I hope I will continue to be a source of pride for my mother.”
Abdul Samad, a 17-year-old student said that his mother is a physician currently involved with the coronavirus isolation ward at a well-known private hospital in Karachi.
“My mother has always been my hero. And now that she is risking her life to treat Covid-19 patients, I can't explain how scared I feel for her safety,” he said. “She is being extra cautious about everything these days and she won't let me hug her on Mother's Day because of social distancing, but I want to tell her that I am extremely proud to be the son of this strong woman who is serving humanity against all odds. I love you mom!” he said.
Samira, a registered nurse at another private hospital in Karachi, said that she lost her mother two years ago, but she still celebrates Mother's Day each year to honour the most important woman in her life. She said that this year will be more special for her.
“My mother always wanted me to do something meaningful in life. Today, I am helping Covid-19 patients without thinking about my own life. I wish she would be alive to see me today so that she would feel proud of me. Even though she is not in this world anymore, I wish a happy Mother's Day to her.”