What do I remember of my Mother??
When I try to remember my Mother, memories which are a mixture of fragrances, the feel of her sarees, the enormous quantities and variety of delicious food she prepared and force fed, and her constant state of unhappiness comes flooding back. She separated from her husband a few months into their marriage and moved in with her widow mother; she was pregnant with me then. This was in traditional Pune in the seventies. My grandmother was a pillar of strength. I think when one strong woman takes another under her wing, does it make the weaker one more disabled? Over the years my mother remarried to a brilliant engineer against the wishes of his family who wanted their oldest foreign educated academically brilliant son to marry an undivorcee (is there such a word?) from their own community. All through my childhood I remember being told over and over about how the world is a cruel place, how you cannot really trust anyone in this big bad world, how every one is out to take advantage of you, how there are really no true friends in this world, how I had no one in the world but for God, my grandmother and her. Every evening after returning from work, would be a post mortem of the day with Aaji (my mother’s mother) where it seemed like my mother worked with the vilest of people and it was everyone’s goal in life to make her miserable.
All through my childhood my fate was intertwined with hers; reminders of how she has bad luck and me too were abundant. Finally one day I woke up and our relationship transformed from a protective mother-daughter one to a “My daughter doesn’t care for me"one. Every time I tried to negate and separate my life from hers would result in misunderstandings and accusations of “You don’t understand what its like”. Every attempt at trusting people, making friends, keeping an optimistic spirit and believing in myself would be controversial. I fought to break out of this suffocating smothering relationship while at the same time trying not to hurt my mother. She does love me, her love is just binding and tries to limit me. Love should free you, not cage you.
Is my nature at fault too that I remember all the unpleasant things and have conveniently forgotten the happy moments of my childhood? My mother’s saree chest was like a treasure chest to me. She would unfold her carefully wrapped silk sarees, her kanjeevarams, her paithanis, the smell of moth balls and her perfume would waft up through the beautiful sarees. I still remember and miss that – the touch and smell of her and her sarees. I remember her pure happiness when I would visit during school vacations and her struggle to cook different special items of food for me while she tried to run two households (hers and my grandmothers) and make it to work on time. I remember her delight in my new clothes and milestones. What I miss is her open appreciation and moral support for every achievement and every obstacle that I face in life. If she would have had her way, I would be a stay at home commerce graduate married right after graduation to a guy staying in a bungalow in Pune with his parents kinda girl; maybe I might have been happy then too. But I wanted to finish my higher education, stand on my own feet and be in a position where if ever the need arises for me to support myself, I could do it.
Now I have a daughter and I know what not to do. Hopefully I will not repeat the same mistakes that my mother has done, even though I do not blame her for anything. All’s well that ends well!
This Mothers day I would like to urge all of you Moms out there:
1) Be a mother do not smother your child.
2) Sometimes situations arise when you can’t really do anything to solve the problem, then, just be there. Your child will remember that silent support.
3) If your child is falling down and trying to stand up again, do not encourage him/her to give up, extend your hand and help them stand up again even though you might believe that he/she will just fall down right away.
4) Believe in your child
5) Your child’s destiny is his/hers alone; your destiny has nothing to do with it
Things have changed for my mother now; she is in a much happier place. She has a renewed relationship with her husband, she has his support, he dotes on her, their daughter is grown up and married to a great guy, my grandma has passed away, my mother has a group of good friends she plans frequent sightseeing trips with, she is close to retirement, I am married to a good guy, have a daughter and seemingly all is well with my mother’s world. So is a much awaited change in her attitude though I know her old self is lurking somewhere below and will resurface and will arise at the first hint of disruption in her perfect world. She thinks I am a perfect human being, thinks everything I do is right, everything I touch turns to gold, has extreme praise and appreciation for every mundane task I complete, has put me on a pedestal of Ms. Perfection. Too much, too late, Mother but I still do love you anyways. I hope there is never a ripple in your perfectly calm happy life now and the coming years bring more happiness and peace and you can finally put down that huge load of baggage you have been carrying around all these years, all the hurt and the pain that you had to face will be replaced by happy peaceful memories in your golden years. Happy Mothers Day!