Today while driving to work, I saw a vehicle parked on the side of the road with its hazard lights on. A young man was sitting on the grass verge and one look was enough to see that he was retching and in some distress. As I watched, an elderly lady got out of the front seat and with motherly concern began stroking the individual’s head, while hugging him. I stopped my car and asked if they required assistance, but was relieved when the lady thanked me and said that she was grateful for my offer of help. I kept standing at the spot till the mother and son (for that is what they were) got into their seats and drove away.

I reached my workplace in an introspective frame of mind and the realization that many of us tend to neglect our parents even to the extent that some consider them to be a burden. It was then that I decided that nothing could be more appropriate than to dedicate this week’s column to all mothers, wherever they may be in a bid to reiterate and cherish their presence and their memories.

A case was once brought before King Solomon, wherein two women claimed that a certain child was theirs. The great and wise monarch, who is also revered as a Prophet, heard the two females and ordained that since both parties were refusing to come to terms, the child should be sliced and each half should be handed over to the claimants. While one of the litigants did not react to the decision, the other screamed in agony and pleaded with the King to hand over the child to her rival as she could not bear the consequences of the royal order. The wise king looked on the weeping female with compassion and there and then handed over the child to her with the words that her love for the child was proof that she was the legitimate mother and therefore could take the infant home alive and well.

I know of mothers who have faced odds and dangers of the extreme kind in order to protect their offspring, putting their own lives on the line in order to rescue their young ones. My thoughts reach out to an incident a long time ago, where a mother faced death by rushing into a burning home so that her sleeping child could be saved. I can still vividly recall the story of a boating accident on the River Ravi that occurred decades ago, where a drowning child was rescued by a woman, who could not swim, but jumped into the water when the toddler inadvertently fell in. The story had a tragic ending as the mother gave her own life so that her daughter could live.

The phenomenon of maternal love is not restricted to humans alone. It is universally present in all living things including animals. There is a lingering memory from my childhood days of one of our milk cows, which lost its calf one month after she was born. No amount of incentives could induce the animal to ‘bring down’ her milk, until someone got the idea of stuffing the dead calf’s skin and laying it down before the grieving bovine. We then witnessed the miracle of motherly love as the cow began licking the skin and we saw her udder suddenly ‘balloon’ with milk.

A section of our society has of late adopted the western custom of celebrating ‘Mother’s Day’. While I having nothing against dedicating one day out of three hundred and sixty five to mothers, I am more inclined to observe each day of my life as ‘Mother’s Day’ – a day when I can pay homage to the woman, who carried me, then went through the pains of bringing me into this world and finally raised me to become a useful person in total disregard to her own needs and comfort.

The writer is a freelance columnist.