Born into a very poor family, often there was not much to eat in the house. Whenever there was some food, the Mother would give her portion of rice to the child and say ‘eat this rice son, I’m not hungry.’
As the child grew, the mother started using up all her spare time to go fishing in a river near the house, hoping that from the fish she would catch, she could provide a little nutrition to her child. Every time she caught two fish, she would make a fish soup and give it to her child. As the child drank the soup and ate the fish, the mother would sit beside and eat the bone from what was left. The child felt really sad seeing its mother eating just the leftover bones, so one day it gave a piece of fish to the mother, but the mother said ‘eat this fish son, I don’t like fish.’
As the son was growing up, the mother began working harder to fund his education. She went to a Match factory to bring home used matchboxes which she would fill with fresh matchsticks. This helped her get some money that she could use towards her son’s education. One late winter night the son woke up and saw his mother was still filling the matchboxes by candlelight. He asked her to go to sleep. ‘Go to sleep son, I’m not tired,’ she smiled.
When it was time for the son’s final exam, the mother accompanied him and after dawn, she waited for long hours in the sun for her son to finish the exam. When he came out and ran to his mother, she gave him a cup of tea she had brought for him. He could see his mother was covered in sweat, so he gave her the glass and asked her to drink. But she said ‘Drink son, I am not thirsty.’
After the death of his father, his mother had to take on the role of a single parent, working, trying to meet the expenses, battling starvation. The neighbors, who saw that the family was stuck in poverty, often advised the mother to marry again, but she refused, saying ‘I don’t need love.’
After he finished his studies, he got a job and asked his mother to stop working. But she continued going to the market each morning just to sell a few vegetables. She kept sending back the money that her son sent her, saying ‘I have enough money.’
The son got a big jump in salary and decided to bring his mother with him to America, where he was now living. But his mother didn’t want to bother the son and said ‘I’m not used to high living.’
In her old age, the mother got ill with cancer and had to be hospitalized. The son, who lived oceans away from her, rushed to her, who was bedridden after an operation. She tried to smile, but the son was heartbroken because she was so thin and feeble, but mother said, ‘Don’t cry son, I’m not in pain.’ And saying this, her eighth lie to her son, she died.