Saturday, 15 September 2012

Who am I?

10 years ago, the most important person in my life passed away. I've never written about this, or really put this down in words. There's always been a reason. I mean, it was my mother. The person who brought me up, worked hard so that she could provide me with the best education she could give me, helped me with my homework (I still remember her helping me write my first creative writing piece in Year 3. I had to write about one person in my family and inevitably I wrote about (and as far as I can remember, I also drew) my mum. For the writing part of it, she told me to write something along the lines of "She looks so young, you would barely believe that she's my mum!" I think the poor humour runs in the family if I'm honest!), and so many more things that a mother does and sacrifices for their son. It's difficult to describe just how much she did for me, and how much she meant - and continues to mean - to me.

So writing about it has always escaped me. I think perhaps it is a natural reaction, but sympathy is an emotion that I have always struggled with. In the weeks following my mother's death, we received flowers, hundreds of emails, and a lot of support from friends and family (my appreciation to whom I can never truly repay). That support base was critical in helping me move through life and the question I would often pose myself is, "What would my mum want?", and then I would go about and select a certain option. Reasonably quickly, however, I realised that all she would want of me is to create my own path, for me to be my own person and keeping myself grounded in my values.

So although I fully understand, and really do appreciate it, sympathy is one I generally try and avoid. After all, it's seen as the decent thing to tell someone, "I'm really sorry to hear that.", after they lose someone close to them. Humans are an empathetical being and we can share and understand pain. Yet we're also a being that tends to judge others and we also associate people with certain events and actions; "He's the guy that's really fat" or "he studied at Oxford", "he's the son of ..."or "his mother died in 2002". And this is a problem I have, and I guess for that I apologise since often people will want to give condolences because my mother's death affected them too, or they just want to offer support, but I tend not to give people the opportunity to do so.

Often I'll work a little bit harder at something "to make my mum proud" because I know that she would have wanted that. But I also feel that she would have wanted me to be my own person. Would she, for example, have wanted me to choose a certain career because she had wanted it? Definitely not. She would have wanted me to do something I enjoy - and that's exactly what I do. So I work harder to make my mum - and also my dad (who's also shown me love, care, support, fed me, housed me, and really, given me anything I've ever asked for) - proud. Doesn't everyone do that?

Where am I heading with this post, I guess you're now thinking? This is a slight ramble through my thoughts, a true blog post as it was originally laid out to be. This post is meant as both an explanation and also to show my gratitude to those who have given me support. I'm sometimes a little bit difficult, and often I'm not too open about my mother. Ironically, it's because I love her, and try to instil what she would want for me.

She wouldn't want for me to be defined by actions that have affected me. I wrestle with the idea that I should be defined by something I have no control over.

Instead, I am my own person. I am Siraj Datoo - the guy who's on far too many social networks for it to be healthy, the guy who writes (and hopefully has something interesting to say), the guy who founded The Student Journals, the guy who owns a huge collection of books (the majority of which he still needs to get through), the guy whose birthday it is soon (yep, that's a hint), the guy who studies at Warwick, the guy who studies French with International Studies, the guy who loves technology (and his Mac), or just the guy who's called Siraj.

This post is dedicated to the memory of Nasreen J. Versi.