A Mother’s Day that is not

Mustafa K. Anuar

M. Indira Gandhi is still waiting for the authorities to get her youngest daughter, Prasana Diksa, back from her ex-husband. – The Malaysian Insight file pic, May 13, 2023.

Commentary by Mustafa K. Anuar

MOTHER’S Day, which will be celebrated tomorrow in Malaysia, is an important occasion for many to express love, appreciation and gratitude towards mothers and mother figures for their unconditional love, support and sacrifices.

While the dates of celebrating this special day may vary from one country to another, the spirit and purpose of jubilation, however, remains the same. It is generally celebrated in March or May.

It is the day we acknowledge the invaluable role mothers play in their children’s lives, starting from giving birth to nurturing and guiding their children through life.

We would presumably appreciate even more the role played by mothers who are single – owing to divorce or separation, or death of a spouse – as they would have to take on various challenges single-handedly that life throws at them.

An intense bond that develops between mother and child over a period of time is obviously crucial and precious.

It is during this bonding period that a doting mother cherishes moments of joy when, say, her child learns to crawl, babbles to communicate, falls after a few baby steps or laughs uncontrollably when tickled.

But then, you are not able to forge such intense bonding if your child is physically abducted from you, especially in the early formative months.

That was what happened to such mothers as M. Indira Gandhi whose children were taken away by their fathers upon converting to another faith.

Prasana Diksa was snatched away from Indira by her father K. Padmanathan, now known as Muhammad Riduan Abdullah, after his conversion to Islam. This is despite the fact that Islam does not take kindly to an act that sever ties between a mother and her child.

Indira got the last glimpse of Prasana when she was 11 months old, which is why it is harrowing for her not to know how she looks now.

As a loving mother, she has been deprived of celebrating her daughter’s birthday for the last 15 years. That is a long spell for anyone, especially mothers.

There is a void in heart when she could only imagine wishing her youngest daughter, who celebrated her 15th on April 8, “happy birthday” every year in her forced absence.

It must have been very painful for Indira not to be able to read story books to Prasana before sleep in her formative years, or not to know her favourite colour or food, or what makes her happy as a teenager.

Such joys have been robbed off Indira, the knowledge of which did not seem to have pricked the conscience of people who are expected to expedite the release of her excruciating pain.

As she correctly observed, governments have come and gone without an offer of real hope, despite the catchy slogans that each had promoted to give an impression that they cared for people like her. Would “Madani” have a magical effect on her?

For those celebrating Mother’s Day this year, spare a thought for Indira and her missing daughter whose face is unrecognisable by her very own mother, which is tantamount to making them complete strangers.

Better still, concerned and compassionate Malaysians may want to seek effective means to help highlight the plight of mothers like Indira so that a mother and child reunion would no longer be made a distant and agonising dream.

Let Mother’s Day be not smudged by human actions that are devoid of love, compassion and humanity. – May 13, 2023.

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