In my Somali household, it’s extremely strict and everyone in my family knows that.
Things like having bad grades and failing are pretty bad, but the pinnacle of this story is not listening to your parents.
I used to stay in my room chilling on my small twin-sized bed enjoying anime and different videos on my laptop. The fan was on, I was in a big room, it was the best. My Hooyo (mom) always yelled at my siblings and me for not helping her around the house. It’s usually messy with clothes, dishes, and random things that I don’t know of. I have eight siblings and when we’re all in the same house it sounds like a playground. My parents were always working around the house, especially my hooyo. She would clean and cook every day with no one helping her. Even though she was doing all this she would still support us.
I remember when I had to spend time in the hospital, my hooyo insisted on staying overnight with me. The hospital room was spacious and smelled clean, as if they cleaned it every second of the day. The doctors had told me that I had problems with my stomach. It felt as if something was burning there, the feeling was horrible. It made me not eat enough. My hooyo was there because she didn’t want her son to stay there alone with no one. I felt sad at the time and had a little bit of a realization. Being in bed with nothing to do with only my hooyo feeding me made a lot of time for us to talk.
We talked about her favorite things and what she wanted. She said her favorite food was basto (pasta) just like me. I guess I am my mother’s son. So I told her right when we get out of the hospital I would learn how to cook basto for her. We both started laughing. I went to sleep and dreamt of how these conversations didn’t come when we were at home. I always neglected my hooyo until she had to yell at me to get up. When I fell asleep in the soft hospital bed, the dream I had was vivid. It felt like I could feel it. Being in this vulnerable state where I was able to think about things changed my perspective on my relationship with my hooyo.
This made me realize how much I need my hooyo and how she isn’t gonna be here forever to take care of me. I also started to think about how much my hooyo needed help and why I wasn’t listening to her. I felt bad for her. I thought I had to learn to become independent. If I learned how to do that then my mom wouldn’t have to cook and clean every day for the family.
I woke up and saw a bunch of doctors walk into my room and talk about why I was hospitalized. After the report, the doctors told me I had a chronic illness. When I got that news it was shocking. My heart jumped. I didn’t know what that meant but it sounded scary. My hooyo clutched me close as if she was trying to protect me and told me “Ha ka cabsan wiilkay” — “Don’t be scared, my boy.”
It felt serene. My hooyo’s warm body comforting me slowed my brain down to let me process all the information the doctors told me. After all that happened, we finally came home. I was so tired even though I was laying in bed all day. I went to my room and knocked out. I woke up without my mom telling me to do so and got to work around the house. I cleaned everything I could and made food for my other siblings so that my hooyo could not stress about having to do that. She told me “Ilaah haku barakeeyo wiilkay” — “May Allah bless you, my son.” I felt so much happiness, I just smiled and didn’t say anything. My hooyo just recognizing that I’ve changed from when I was a lazy kid not doing anything to helping her with everything made me smile. Even when you’re down and don’t feel like doing anything, just remember that your parents are always there for you. So you should be there for them.