Taken From Life-2

(A New Mukto-Mona Series on Real Life Experiences with People)

[Dear Members,

We are putting together a collection of the personal experiences of members involving other people--both believers & non-believers--in their day-to-day lives. Articles are being accepted in English and Bangla and we shall have one article featured every two weeks. Members are invited to send in their experiences for publication in this section. The following is the second article in this series. Readers may check out the first article in the series written by Mehul kamdar. Please see the link at the end.  
-M-M Moderation Team] 


A Mother without Boundary

Jahed Ahmed

Many Bangladeshi people in the USA work in American restaurants as a busy boy, or busser (sometimes called �back waiter�). The bus boy�s job includes setting up tables, serving breads, water, coffees, etc to the customers (guests) and cleaning up the tables after each course of food. The job is not well paid compared to labor associated with it, yet many do it because of the �tips.� A bus boy directly doesn�t receive any �tips� from a customer; it�s the waiter/waitress (also called server) the bus works under who gives them a small percentage of the tips that the customers give them. A bus boy thus has to depend on a server�s wish for his/her share of the �tips.� Although rarely, sometimes it may happen that a customer give $1.00 or $ 2.00 cash tips directly to the bus boy when he/she feels especially satisfied. And when it happens, it becomes a moment of joy & pride for a bus boy; after all, who doesn�t like recognition? In 2004 I had worked in one such American restaurant as a bus boy. While most customers left tips or checks over the table before leaving, occasionally, one or two customers gave me one or, two dollars of extra tips. Some commented they liked my smile, a thing I didn�t hear very often.

   One day I was serving a table which had 3-4 guests. As usual, I served them with water, bread, and cleaned the table after each course. I was standing a little far from the table but close enough for them to call me any time they needed. We�re taught not to look directly into the eyes of the customers while they are eating. It was time for dessert as the main course of food was over. My guests in the table were chatting with each other over the cup of coffee. Suddenly the elderly white lady in the group called me. When I went near her, she mildly held my hand under the table while whispering in my ear,�this is for you.� I realized she handed over some cash in my hand. Thanking her, I went to the rest room to see how much it was she gave me. I discovered the amount of cash she gave me is quite unusual for a bus boy as tips. It was a $ 20.00 bills. Did she make a mistake? I was thinking. �Madam, you�ve given me a $20.00 dollar bills. I�m not sure if you knew it,� going back to the table I told the lady. �Yes, that�s for you to keep. You know, when my son was working as a bus boy, no one gave him any tips� came the reply from her with a deep voice and & affectionate look. I was touched deeply. Before the lady left, I went and said, �Madam, I�m an aspiring writer. The tips you gave me today is especial not only because it�s a generous amount for a bus boy, but you�ve reminded me of my own mother I left home whom I have not seen in last 4 years.� �WOW! You�re a writer. Then you may have read Hemingway. He is my favorite. Read him as much as you can. Why don�t you give me your address so that I may send you some of my collection?� the lady suggested. I gave her my e mail ID before saying �bye� to her. After a week, it was my manager who said that a parcel has arrived for me. Having no clue, I wondered why a parcel for me would arrive in the restaurant! To my pleasant surprise, the parcel was from the lady and contained two books by Hemmingway & a beautiful card. I was touched again by this unexpected affection & the shower of love. I e-mailed her a detailed note of thanks:

My dear Madam,

����.Ever since I joined Thalia (the restaurant), yesterday�s evening has been the most pleasant experience for me. Indeed, I felt honored having served a special person like you. As a bus boy, I�m mostly used to dealing with only odd situations and encounters, but yesterday�s evening has been a remarkable exception for me. Unlike all other days, last night I met more than a usual customer--a mother who reminded me of my own mom I left back home in a small town in Bangladesh, and who often cries over phone for not having seen me for last three and half years. This time, I will let my mom know, she might not have seen me all those days, but I did see her last evening at my work place. Madam, what you gave me yesterday was more than an unusually generous tip; to me it symbolizes proof of my very own conviction: we, the humans, of the planet earth are more similar than we are different! A mother couldn�t be described such ways as a Bangladeshi Mother, or an American Mother; rather, a mother remains same everywhere in this planet, whose love and affection for her children go much beyond customary traditions and practices (you were not obliged to give any additional tip than what's expected). Back in 1990s, I was a student in India, a neighboring country of mine. Twice a year I would go to visit my mom in Bangladesh. Every time, when I was ready to depart home for India after packing all the necessary items including money (my elder brothers financed my education), my mom would call me making sure others were not around (as you did last evening), and hand over some additional money from her own savings. She wouldn�t listen every time I said, �Mom, I don�t need more money. I have enough�. On reflection, now I understand, a mother�s concept of adequacy is not same as that of her child. �����..

   Lastly, let me share with you a small poem recently I composed at work place. It somewhat summarizes my personal beliefs and philosophy. But I'm not a poet, nor do I have any literary background though often I love to play with words.

 The poem is as follows:

Blissful Disappointment

(written on 11/12/03)


I went to New York

I went to Italy,

Australia, Africa and

New Delhi.

I saw people of different age

Different food, cloth & different language,

Yet I found everywhere same human

Just like the members of my very own clan!


I went to Israel to see the Jews

All I saw basic humans with basic views,

To see the difference- I went to Palestine,

That didn't change either view of mine.


To see the Christians, I went to Vatican

All I saw there also same human,

Just like the members of my very own clan!


To see the Hindus, I went to the temple

I found them just like rest of us all,

To feel Allah, I went inside mosque

I felt as I did inside synagogue,

Everywhere I saw same human,

Just like the members of my very own clan!


Bengali child, Latino child

Apart thousand miles,

Yet they are so similar

In their smiles.

Everywhere I saw same human

Just like the members of my very own clan!


A Jewish mother may not have met a Muslim mother

Yet same love for children they share with each other.


We are more similar than we are different

Before agreeing to me, do your own experiment,

Keep your mind open along with eyes, ear

You too will see same human everywhere!

   On 4th January 2004 I received a reply from Mrs. Jane Dionne (by now I knew her name). �Dear Jahed, your poem�..needs to be read at the United Nations. You expressed what all families feel. Please continue your writing.� We remained in touch with each other though not on a frequent basis. In more than one mails, she requested me to send my mailing address so that she could send me more books. Unfortunately, due to my innate nature of not to settle in any one place for long my mailing address kept on changing. In the meanwhile, my mother died in 2004 following a stroke and prolonged paralysis. When my mother was sick, I wrote to Mrs. Jane Dionne and she said she prayed for my mother�s recovery from the heart. I appreciated it very much despite not being a believer. What mattered to me was the purpose of what she did for my mother, not the �prayer� itself. And just like Ms. Jane, my own mother too believed in prayer.

   �I am thankful for meeting you,� wrote Mrs. Jane in one of her mails. But as a matter of fact, I didn�t do anything for her to be �thankful� to me except e-mailing her occasionally. On the other hand, right from the very beginning she�s been extraordinarily generous toward me--filled my heart with the warmth of friendship, affection & love of a mother. Yet the most precious gift I�ve received from her is the realization�a mother is same everywhere, a mother has no boundary and that, motherly love is simply human & natural. We all love to call Nature as the Mother Nature. Where does the question of race, boundary & religion arise when we learn to see ourselves as the children of just one Mother?


    Long live all Mothers and their children!


New York


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About the author: Jahed Ahmed is a co-moderator of Mukto-Mona forum. He lives in New York and can be reached at [email protected]