The Story of a Man and His Damp Bed

The Story of a Man and His Damp Bed

by: Sis Zabrina


I was with my group of friends at a coffee place, happily chatting, when suddenly one of them developed an excruciating pain in her tummy. The pain was so intense for my friend that we had to bring her to the nearest clinic immediately. She was limping, her hands pressed against her abdomen and she was shedding some tears. We tried to hold her steady while she made her way to the doctor’s office.

It turns out that she had not been taking care of her food intake and had developed gastritis. Alhamdulillaah, after a few spoons of medication, she got better and we sent her home.

As I drove back, I kept thinking of the pain my friend had just experienced. I could vividly recall her facial expression, see her tears dropping and her trembling hands, all reflecting the agonizing pain she was feeling. I pray to Allah to spare me from such agony.

Then, it dawned upon me. If gastritis can put a person in such a pain, I wonder how does a labour pain feels. Yes, I did say labour pain. Brothers, keep on reading. You need to know and understand this. Sisters, we all have heard of it before, some of you may have even experienced it. Bear with me, ok.

Have you heard of RAAM? That’s the acronym for “Race Across America”. It is the toughest ultra-distance bicycle endurance competition held annually in the States. Participants had to cycle from coast to coast covering 3000 miles across the United States in eight or nine days, riding the whole 24-hours in a day. Ok, you may ask me now, so, what is the relevance of this race and a labour pain?

Well, there is one lady who won this competition several times had actually said that pain from a childbirth is much more agonizing than the races she had won! Imagine that. I could not even begin to comprehend the idea of how a 9-day of suffering of these cyclists are cramped into a few hours of labour, and even that, it is nothing compared to the labour pain.

Thanks to her, I think I can better understand and appreciate the meaning of hardship in this ayaah…

“We have enjoined on man kindness to his parents: In pain did his mother bear him, and in pain did she give him birth…” [Surah Al Ahqaf 46:15]

May Allah reward all mothers for enduring such pain and hardship to bring all of us in this world. Ameen.

Maybe if we are not an athlete, we cannot fully appreciate what this lady meant.

Here is another analogy I think most of us, if not all, will appreciate. My aunty has a graphic explanation in describing how painful the spasms experienced by women during childbirth is. According to her, ok…warning, this is a little bit gross, but, bear with me, the pain of giving birth is like getting a watermelon out of a garden hose! Ok..okay. That’s not a good analogy, but, you get the picture, don’t you? The contraction, the pushing, the numbness, the blotness, the expansion, the energy used, the breathlessness, the stitching up after labour.

Labour pain has been around since the existence of the very first woman ever created – Eve. And it is still here until today. This hardship is being acknowledged by Islam clearly.

But, you know what, Allah reminds us that the challenges faced by our mothers do not stop after we were born. Bringing us all up is another totally different kind of hardship. This time it may involved not only physical pain (by us running around the house, jumping on the bed while she was lying there) but also emotional pain which may happen if and when we hurt their feelings. Na’uzubillaah.

“And We have enjoined on man (to be dutiful and good) to his parents. His mother bore him in weakness and hardship upon weakness and hardship, and his weaning is in two years: ‘Give thanks to Me and to your parents, – unto Me is the final destination.’ But if they (both) strive with you to make you join in worship with Me others of which you have no knowledge, then obey them not, but behave with them in the world kindly.” [Surah Luqmaan 31:14-15]

Again, Allah reminded us of the hardship they suffer and because of that all of us must be dutiful and kind to our parents…

That makes me wonder. Have we, as children honour our parents as advised by our Creator? Did we give the attention our mothers deserve to have? The companionship they should get? Did we give them our listening ears when they wanted to tell us something, or we just pretended we didn’t hear a word they said? Did we sit with them and talk or we prefer to close the room door and chat to a friend? Did we protest when they asked us to do a chore? Did we turn away when being called by them? Did we cut the conversation short when they are trying to tell us something? Did we bang the door when frustrated that our “demands” are not fulfilled? Did we raise our voice to show our dissatisfaction of their decisions? Did we pretend to sleep when they need us to massage their tired feet? Did we make them cry with our stubbornness? Did we roll our eyes when we think they are not cool? Did we answer them immediately when they call or did we increase our MP3 volume higher?

You know what, everytime we feel like being disobedient, just remember the watermelon and the garden hose. Just keep in mind of that. Yes, watermelon and the garden hose.

And, let’s say we have never ever hurt our mothers. Let’s say we are obedient children. Alhamdulillaah. We give them all the respect, love and care that they deserve. We do all the chores assigned, always be there for them, follow their words, talk to them gently, make them happy, take care of them when they are not well. Is that enough? Have we actually performed our dues already?

Sa’id ibn Abi Burda said, “I heard my father sat that Ibn ‘Umar saw a Yamani man going around the House while carrying his mother on his back, saying, ‘I am your humble camel. If her mount is frightened, I am not frightened.’ Then he asked, ‘Ibn ‘Umar? Do you think that I have repaid her?’ He replied, ‘No, not even for a single groan.’  [al-Adab al-Mufrad – al-Bukhari]

Astaghfirullaah. I cannot get over this fact. Even after carrying his mother on his back like that, that man has not even paid a single groan from the hardship his mother had to endure when she was with him. This hadith makes me feel like weeping. How great is our debt to our mothers? Can we even begin to imagine the enormous duty that awaits us as their children? Ya Allah.

Let me share with you a story I once read about a man who wants to repay his mother for all that she has done for him:

After having reached at the peak of his career, a man felt an urge to repay his mother for all that she had done for him. So he asked her, “Mother, what can I give you? What can I do for you? I sincerely want to repay you for all the sacrifices you have made for me and for all the love you have showered upon me.”

The mother looked surprised and said, “Why do you think about it? It was my duty so I did it, you don’t have to repay me. Even if you want to, there is no way a man can ever repay his mother.”

Despite her continuous refusal to ask for anything, he continued to persist. To put an end to the discussion, she said, “All right. If you must, then tonight you sleep on my bed, with me, just as you used to when you were a baby.” He said, “That’s a strange thing to ask for, but if it pleases you, I will.”

As soon as he fell asleep, the mother got up and brought a bucket of water. She poured a mug full of water on his side. Feeling disturbed by the wetness under him, in his sleep he moved away to the other side of the bed. As he settled down, his mother poured another mug of water on the other side. In his slumber he tried to find space towards the foot post of the bed. Sometime later he woke up feeling that this part of the bed too was damp. He got up and saw his mother, with the mug in her hand. He asked angrily, “What are you doing mother? Why don’t you let me sleep? How do you expect me to sleep on a wet bed?”

Mother said, “I slept with you, when you wetted the bed in the night. I changed your nappy and moved you to the dry part of the bed, while I slept on the wet side. You wanted to repay me. You could not even sleep here even for one night with me on a damp bed!”

SubhanAllah. How easy was the lesson his mother taught him. A simple act indeed but has a very profound meaning attached to it. This story makes me wonder how many times had I made my mother sleep on the damp side of the bed. How many times had I woke her up when she needed so much of her beauty sleep…

I wonder about the sleepless nights my mother had to undergo when I had fever and was ill. It makes me wonder about my cries at night, waking the whole household, but, it was her who left the comfortable bed to pick me up and cuddle me. She was the one. Not my nanny. Not others. But, my mother.

And if she is still alive now, I wonder if I am able to stay up caring for her. Not one night. Not one week. But for the rest of her life. I wonder if I can sleep on the damp side of the bed. But, even if I can, I know that it will never ever be enough to pay her back. Never. My friends, ask yourself this same question. Can you sleep on the damp side of the bed?


Copyright (c) Sis Zabrina 2007