(Winner of the BlogAdda Mother’s Day contest- http://is.gd/bYOr3)
As I put eager pen to paper, I realize this is is going to be the most candid and therefore the most difficult post of my life. Fiction comes easily to me – who doesn’t love to spin stories? – but reality demands a certain degree of brutal honesty that unnerves and unsettles me. But then I’m doing this for someone who made me, in every sense of the word. And so I take a deep breath and for once, my mind closes down and my heart does the talking.
My mother would never have made it as a politician. She cannot flatter. She says the most politically incorrect things at the most inappropriate times. She displays few emotions and has never in her life told me that she loves me. All my teenage years, I resented the fact that she looked so ordinary, that she did not dress up like so many other moms, that she did not socialize. I wanted a model mother – the sitcom variety – perfume, chic clothes, glossy hair and laughter, hugs every hour or so, parties and a large allowance when I asked for it. The mother who seems to dominate every movie screen. I cried and ranted, and when I managed to get through to XLRI two years back, I was almost glad! No more rules. No more ‘sensibility’ over ‘sophistication’. No more boring old mother.
And life, dear reader, turned 180 degrees.
Sitting 1000 kilometres away from home, two years brought home some sharp lessons. As I struggled with the mess food, my thoughts raced back to the sambar that my mother used to get up at 5-30 in the morning to make, before she sat down in front of the computer to start working – medical editing – for 9 hours each day. For the first time, as dal turned to dust in my mouth, I slowly wondered where she got the strength from to wake up every morning, every single morning, weekday or Sunday, to cook food for a daughter who was ungrateful at best. I thought guiltily of the hundreds of yellowed recipes that she had cut out from magazines and newspapers and tucked away inside an old diary, to try and make whatever she could for me. I blinked back tears and longed for her.
As I began losing hair to shampoos and conditioners, I remembered how she used to sit down each evening and oil my hair, relentlessly taking out tangles and plaiting my hair until one fine day, I decided I knew more about hair styles that she did and yanked the comb out of her hands. Sitting in front of the mirror at 1 in the night and running my hands through the thinning strands, I remembered the look on her face.
As I struggled, alone for the first time in my life, to manage money on a tight budget as a grad student, I recollected every single instance when she combed her wardrobe and took out one of the same 4 salwars she had and put it on – unbecoming, unfashionable and how I scowled and demanded why she could not buy something better. Never once had I realized that I was the reason – that to buy me everything I wanted, someone in a middle class family has to sacrifice – and years ago my mother had calmly decided that she would be the one.
Six years back, my parents realized that one working parent could no longer support an expensive schooling for two children. My mother, who’d stopped working when my grandma was diagnosed with cancer, quietly walked to the computer, Googled up work opportunities, and the next Monday, began working once again as a medical transcriptionist. As simple as that – no fuss, no frills.
Two years have flown by and today my mother looks the same, except for hair that is slightly grayer, a few more fine lines around her eyes, a pair of spectacles that weren’t there earlier. But today, I know- that behind every gray strand, behind every fine line, behind every box of lunch uncomplainingly cooked and packed for twenty two years, there is a mother’s strong, silent love. And for that love, I am grateful beyond measure.
Today, on the occasion of Mother’s Day, I’d like to gift her this small token of my love, a mousepad thoughtfully designed by Pringoo, so that each morning as she sits to work, she can smile a little and know that her daughter understands why she is how she is, and loves her – for being ordinary. For her ordinariness is beauty to me.