Fierce reminds me of a neighbor’s mother. We were living at Thall. Our home was inside the Fortress. My daughter Nola, and I were the only ones at home. My late husband was at that time a Lt. Col in the army, and commanding a Unit. Mostly his unit was at the border. My son was at Burn Hall in Abbotabad. He would come home during school breaks.

Our neighbors were army doctors. Lt. Col Dr.Q’s mother was living with him. She had no other children beside him. She was fiercely protective  of her son’s children. When the children came out to play, she accompanied them. 

She would be dressed in black. I think I never saw her in any other color. I never could understand her. Although both of us spoke Pushto, but the dialect changes from region to region. Mine had softer edges to it, whereas hers’ was difficult to understand. I would just nod when she would speak to me, trying hard to decipher what she was saying. Most of the time I wouldn’t understand a word of what she would say. I could only make out a word, or two, with that I would try to carry on the conversation with her.

My son S had come home on one of his breaks. He had a slight altercation with Q’s son. Nola came running in to tell me. I went out to see what had happened. S had come to blows with one of the boys. Q’s mother was crying as she said something to me about S fighting her grandson. As a punishment I gave a slap to S’s behind. At this she started to wail. I was horrified at her crying, not knowing what to do. It turned out she was now crying because of my son’s tears. She didn’t want me to punish S. I saw her hugging S, drying his tears, giving him a sweet from the ones she carried around.




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