February is a glorious month in the Kuwait calendar; people scramble to book tickets to travel for the National and Liberation Day holidays (that quite conveniently happen to create a nice extra-long 4 day weekend this year!) in addition to the plethora of discounts, given Kuwait’s Hala February festivities as well.
Hala February has progressed quite steadily since its inception, encompassing a parade nowadays in addition to multitudes of prizes, draws and discounts making it the busiest month of the year. From radio to television, mega-mall to corner-store baqala, everyone is getting in on the Hala February Festivities.
Further, February features the one day of the year the world has come to the consensus to jointly celebrate love; Valentine’s Day. Yes, that one day of the year where all women go doe-eyed and all men spend insane amounts of money to out-valentine other men (oh, did you see what your friend Adam did for his wife last Valentine’s?), from buying flowers and chocolates (or chocolate flowers and flower-filled chocolate for the health conscious) to locking poor defenseless teddy bears in cages painted red as a token of “love”.
I have never forgotten Valentine’s Day; in fact, I always celebrate it. Since it has been deemed the international day of love, it also happens to be the day of birth of the most important person in my life; my mother. People always wondered why I celebrate Mother’s Day in February, despite it landing in March, for in our family, Mom’s birthday was in February (hence Mother’s Day), and Dad’s was in March (you guessed it, Father’s Day!).
Yes, the stars aligned and the universe set its cogs in motion for this angel to be born amongst us on this most celebrated day of the year. When it came to sacrifice, she sacrificed a lot for us, as my dad was also born and raised here, she was uprooted and set new roots in Kuwait. She worked tirelessly with my father to provide me and my brothers with an education that most people back then criticized them for, citing the back-then crazy fees charged by English Schools (wonder what they think of prices nowadays?), most times working double shifts and holidays/Fridays at the pharmacy, and still finding the energy to help us with our Arabic and Chemistry homework (Dad took care of the rest).
Looking back at our childhood, I cannot find a single memory in which my mother was not a part of. Everything from admiration to berating, and all things in between. There was that one time at the age of 5 or so I coyly asked my mother to show me what “signature” meant, then I attempted to forge hers on my Arabic dictation test on which I had scored an abysmal 2/10. Suffice to say I was caught, and from that point forward never dropped below a 9.
We spent hours upon hours strolling the lanes of Souq Mubarakiya, back when all the roads were made of sand not pavement. It was the ideal place to be on weekends, with a touch of history as well as many bargains. As children my brothers and I took full advantage of these, running from one toy store to the next as they called out the age-old bait of “everything for 100 fils”, we would grab everything within arm’s reach and then turn to our mom with broad smiles from ear to ear. She would of course thin the selections down, knowing full well these toys would be mercilessly shattered by the same time next week.
All visits to Souq Mubarakiya ultimately must culminate with one activity; a visit to the snacks shop close to the parking lot, run by the same brothers for all these years, serving the tastiest samosa’s and other friend goodies which despite being so bad for you are oh so good!
If Valentine’s Day is a celebration of love, there is no greater love to celebrate than that of a mother’s. Take advantage of this month’s festivities to pamper these queens that walk amongst us, take her shopping (avail the best discounts!), followed by an idyllic stroll in Souq Mubarakiya and culminate it with a dinner and a gift, which will always fall short, for what gift can you possibly give to the woman that gave you life?
Happy birthday Mama Omaima.