Shazia Mirza: Diary of a disappointing daughter

I’m in San Francisco and it’s my birthday. My mum calls and sings Happy Birthday down the phone. It’s so sweet, my 65-year-old mother singing to me, out of tune in her croaky Pakistani accent. Then she says, “It’s your birthday. I’m happy but I’m sad.” There is a silence. I know exactly what she means.

She’s happy that today is the day I was born but I’m now in my 30s, I’m not married and I have no children. To her that’s very sad.

After the silence she says, “What are you doing today?”

“I’m with Sara, my old school friend, and we’re going for lunch.”

“Oh that’s good, have a nice time. I love you.”

Usually my mum nags and nags and repeats the same phrases over and over: “Have you found anyone yet? Why not? Is he Muslim?” But in this conversation, she sounds disappointed. Like there is no hope for me and this is the end of the world.

I haven’t fulfilled my parents’ expectations, and they feel the failure on my behalf. I feel OK. But when I see my mother in this state, Ithink maybe I should feel like a desperate, embarrassed old spinster.

When my mum gets anxious and nervous, she gets things wrong.

I say, “Don’t worry, Mum, I’m not worried.”

She says, “It’s getting late now, you’ll have to get frozen.”

“You mean get my eggs frozen?”

“Just get everything frozen!”

I think she’s been watching too much Doctor Who.