My Mother Mary, no, not baby Jesus' mother, but my actual mother, who goes by Mary, told me that when she was born in South Africa, her parents asked the attending nurse to name their baby girl because they only felt confident giving her a Chinese name. So my mother was given the name she has used most in her life…by a stranger. Perhaps, in that moment when my grandparents placed that heavy responsibility upon her, that nurse raised her eyes to the white ceiling or a fluorescent light bulb in that hospital room, and she prayed for Jesus' guidance. And maybe in that nurses' heart, He spoke to her excitedly, in a moment of inspiration, “Hey, how 'bout after MY ma? Mary!”
This is my mother Zarina Kanji’s story. She was born in 1940 in Nairobi, Kenya to Nurbanu and Suleman Kassam. She is second generation Kenyan. Her paternal grandfather settled in Africa having arrived from India. She has five brothers and four sisters. Three brothers and 1 sister have passed on. She is the 7th child.
Two years ago, my brother, two sisters, my husband and myself were all retired. None of us have nine to five jobs. We all acknowledge this with smug self satisfied little smiles and self congratulatory glints in our half shut eyes. In this same year, my 85 year old mother, was laid off from her job. She is a legal secretary. Her boss turned 91 and felt that he only needed one of his two employees, as work is not as abundant as he hoped. My mom was devastated.