Shazia Mirza: Diary of a disappointing daughter

My mum has packed her bags and gone to Mecca for a month on her own, leaving my dad at home by himself. It reminded me of the scene from the film Shirley Valentine when the husband comes home to find Shirley has packed up and gone.

He called me yesterday, shouting, “I think she’s very selfish leaving me here by myself. I could die in the middle of the night and no one would know. And there’s no curry in the freezer.”

My dad is scared of death, more than my mum is. I think this is because he’s sinned more. As my mum gets older, she cares less and less about anyone or anything; she’s totally convinced she’s got a place in heaven because she prays every day.

After 40 years, the tables have turned. Once upon a time, my mum spent a lot of time by herself bringing up five children without any help. My dad would be away a lot. My mum tells me now that she found those times lonely and difficult, but it made her a stronger person.

And now, my mum is strong and my dad is needy. Mum doesn’t feel guilty about going off by herself and doing as she pleases. She is totally enjoying indulging herself. Last week when I went home, she had bought herself a new suitcase and a new handbag on the same day. Ihave never known my mum to buy herself anything.

A lot of people think negatively about old age, but there are some great things that can develop. Less guilt, less need, more me.