The Ordinary, Extraordinary and the Lives In Between
Author : Hanan PT

We need to shift our focus from achieving extraordinary things in the public eye to doing good things in life. I love the way Islam teaches that providing for one’s family is charity, smiling at others is charity, a good word is a charity, cleaning home is charity, putting a morsel in your partner’s mouth is charity, taking care of children and family will be rewarded… Every little good we do will be rewarded. Thus, the guilt one feels regarding one’s career can be eliminated. The regret of not achieving big, not doing things that stay in others’ memories will not be there. It assures mental health and support. The Quran even directly addressed the struggles of the mothers through the verse – “We enjoined upon man to be dutiful to his parents. His mother bore him in weakness upon weakness, and his weaning lasted two years. (We, therefore, enjoined upon him): “Give thanks to Me and to your parents. To Me is your ultimate return.” (Surah Luqman: 14). The relief and support this verse gives to mothers, I don’t think there is an equivalent to it. The phrase weakness upon weakness gently encompasses all the
struggles of mothers.

I have always been confused with regards to the general axiom, “Do great things in your life, so people will remember you even after your death.” Is that really the ultimate goal? Aren’t the memories that others hold of us only fragments from an eventful life? Aren’t they subject to change? We remember Charlie Chaplin as one of the greatest artists of all times, but he was a known serial sexual predator. We know a lot of people from different fields who contributed greatly to their respective fields but were struggling with behavioural problems that greatly affected the people in their lives. How we remember our lives can be a good measure only if we value principles and morals. But I think there are external factors that influence the way one remembers one’s life too.

Recently I watched the Malayalam movie “Home’’, which told the story of an old man named Oliver Twist and his struggles with the technological advancements in today’s world and addressed the issues like mental health, family relationships, the disconnection of modern society etc. through the portrayal of Oliver’s family life. In the movie, Oliver’s son, who is a successful film director, asks Oliver – is there anything extraordinary in your life to be remembered, worthy of writing an autobiography and calls Oliver a failed businessman. The rest of the movie is about Oliver trying to communicate to his son about the extraordinary thing he did while he was young. The film ends when he succeeds in doing so and the son expresses his love and respect. The film was trying to convey that even the people whom we label as ordinary, could have done extraordinary things in their lives but perhaps people are unaware of it. But, the film left me wishing that it had told that one doesn’t need to do extraordinary things to feel good about their own life or to deserve respect or care of a loved one. Isn’t it an inherently capitalist idea that your worth is determined by your productivity?

I always think about our fathers and mothers whenever I hear the “people will remember you” quote. Aren’t we saying that their life is worth no good because they haven’t done anything ‘extraordinary’ (in the sense society perceives it) in their lives? Fathers who were born into the middle of an economic crisis but made sure that their family was not starving, mothers who were married off and had kids in their teenage years, but survived depression and somehow managed to raise us– can we say that they don’t deserve our respect because their life was so ‘ordinary’?

This idea of being extraordinary is costing people their mental health. And women bear the burden more than others. Whether it is the patriarchy that dominates households, or the insensitive and hyper-productive work environments that don’t consider feminine needs such as period leaves, crèches and day care centres – all of them suffocate women to their physical and mental limits. The idea that “employed women are only empowered women” destroys their mental health too. There is a greater pressure on women to choose career over family these days. And the women who choose family over career, who take career gaps are shamed and made to feel guilty. Especially the young women who become mothers fear that they will not be able to have a career and thus feel depressed. Work environment that can only accommodate non-menstruating, non-child bearing men, a society that assigns parenting only to mothers and the idea of “empowered women”, all contribute to this debilitating pressure.

We need to shift our focus from achieving extraordinary things in the public eye to doing good things in life. I love the way Islam teaches that providing for one’s family is charity, smiling at others is charity, a good word is a charity, cleaning home is charity, putting a morsel in your partner’s mouth is charity, taking care of children and family will be rewarded… Every little good we do will be rewarded. Thus, the guilt one feels regarding one’s career can be eliminated. The regret of not achieving big, not doing things that stay in others’ memories will not be there. It assures mental health and support. The Quran even directly addressed the struggles of the mothers through the verse – “We enjoined upon man to be dutiful to his parents. His mother bore him in weakness upon weakness, and his weaning lasted two years. (We, therefore, enjoined upon him): “Give thanks to Me and to your parents. To Me is your ultimate return.” (Surah Luqman: 14). The relief and support this verse gives to mothers, I don’t think there is an equivalent to it. The phrase weakness upon weakness gently encompasses all the struggles of mothers.

We need to learn that what seems ordinary to some can be extraordinary to others. We need to re-define the concept of extraordinary. We have to learn that what seems ordinary has also a great effort behind it and that an ‘ordinary’ life is also worth living.

3 Comments

  1. Fathima azeez

    ??

    Reply
  2. RAMEESHA P

    ?

    Reply
  3. Jasmine Basheer K

    So worthy of reading…congrats my dear

    Reply

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