Through the open door, I see her standing in the kitchen. It’s one of those dark, muted, chilly, rainy, curl-up-inside-the-blanket sort of December evenings that makes you lazy to the bone and you think over a hundred times before finally deciding whether the task that requires you to come out of your warm blanket is really worth the effort. I spend these winter days (and evenings, and nights) the same way; tucking myself inside a blanket wearing my dad’s over-sized, ultra warm jacket with my one hand holding the book and the other shoved inside the warm, inviting pockets of the jacket. The only time I take my hand out of the pocket is when I have to turn the page of the book. It’s then when the hand that’s holding the book goes in the pocket and I hold the book upright with the other, already warmed-up hand.
But right now I’m sitting at the dining table, still looking at her. She is too busy to notice me gawking at her. I see her stirring the spoon in a big wok set on the stove with puffs of steam coming out of it, then whirling around to find some spice on the counter behind her. I see her chopping the carrots and shredding the boiled chicken pieces. Occasionally, she immerses the spoon inside the wok and blows the inevitably hot liquid before tasting it to check if the soup is lacking any ingredient or spice. Doing that, she reaches for the spice rack, sprinkles in the needed spices, balancing the taste and then tasting it one more time to ensure that the soup is being cooked up in its best flavor. She always does that; pouring her heart and soul in what she decides to cook. During this whole period of watching her cook passionately, I don’t so much as go inside and ask if she needs any help. This is why, after a few more interminable minutes of sniffing in the aroma coming from the kitchen, when I finally see her coming out holding a big, black bowl with clouds of steam laden with the aroma that augments your appetite, I furtively thank her and sink in the bowl to pour down the soup, that is inevitably going to taste good, in my mouth. I thrust in my spoon, ready to get soothed by the hot, tasty soup on a crisp winter evening. The soup is very hot so I perpetually blow off the heat, until the steam stops coming out from it before I slurp it down. Perfect. Just how I like. Every time I dip in my spoon, it comes out filled up with a few shreds of chicken and some corn seeds floating in the spoonful of soup. I chew the al dente corn and the shreds of chicken and gulp it down, savoring its flavor. I love it. I love her. Not because she just cooked me soup. But because she intuitively realized that a bowl of soup is what I’d like the most on this biting winter evening. She always happens to know what I want. I envy her instincts. Even when I’m not around and she can’t see me, she ends up bringing a smile on my face by providing me with what I want. I remember once I was coming back home from college, starving. Hunger pangs were plummeting inside my stomach. I reached home, pushed open the gate and got welcomed by two blessings in my life; her smiling face and a platter of fries in her hand. I felt like dancing with joy and asked her how she knew I was craving food. She smiled and said that she just did. This is how she brings joy in my life. She understands my needs. Tries to give her best to make me happy. I’m still sipping my soup, mentally thanking the Creator for blessing me with a mother. Mentally praying that she and her blessings remain with me beyond eternity. She’s looking at me with a probing smile pasted on her face. “Do you like it?” she asks, eager to hear my answer in affirmative. Like it? Of course I like it. I love it. Too busy to speak, I tilt my head to the side, my eyes wide open below my raised eyebrows, showing how much I’m enjoying it. I do the effort to fill my spoon with the residuum of the soup, guzzle it down, look up at her and say, “Wonderful.” Her eyes sparkle, a grin showing off her teeth plasters her face and she utters one word: “Really?” There. That’s the price of her long hours of standing in the kitchen. That one word pays it all off for her weary hours in the kitchen just to get me a bowl of soup. She smiles a contented smile and with that all those little traces of tiredness hiding behind her face run away. I shoot her a smile back, thinking a mother's heart must be composed of the goodness of the entire universe. But during the creation of my Ammi, Allah must have poured in heaps of sweetness in her as well her while He was at it. I love Allah for that. I love her.