There is something very special about mother and daughter relationships. Even in the happiest and closest of all families, I have always seen that there are certain secrets only mothers and daughters share. Even in the most distant or broken relationship, there is always a part of the mother in her daughter. And that stays forever. Now, in my late twenties Maa is my closest confidante.
Maa was born and brought up in a town and at 22 she married Daddy. It was a love marriage; and thus, life kept unfolding itself in thousand hues and spheres. Now after 36 years of being married, she is the matriarch of the family after dad expired 18 years back.
Maa has grown and developed in many folds, as I see her now. Last year, she and I took a trip together. That trip showed me much more than so many years of staying with her as a daughter did.
Time comes in its own garb. It will always soften and melt your steps. It was at Jaipur, when we landed, I saw the cards, time played. That day, I signed the hotel registry and gave my I-card for proof. She just waited nearby. That night, after food as we went to the room, Maa was the first one to go off to sleep peacefully, secured in the knowledge that everything is arranged and she does not need to lead anything the next morning.
All through the trip I kept taking her photos. She complied happily. All her life, she was worried about us getting clicked and this time, I finally discovered that she too loved getting herself clicked. That too is Maa.
At Haridwar and Rishikesh, I took long walks with her. Yes, we bought books together. But the best was yet to come. As we sat to watch the Ganga Aarti, the bhajan was going on. It was one the most beautiful evenings in my life; the gentle breeze and the Bhajan going on. Maa was a radio singer before marriage; I wonder how many women in her generation gave up their best to have a family. That evening Maa just could not stop herself. She joined the group and sang the best she could. And she was in tears throughout. Till date, I never asked why she cried or sang. I believe every human being has his/her own silent rendezvous with their Gods. That’s when you got to leave them alone. That is a part no one owes an explanation to anyone.
Mcloedganj bought a very special memory. We sat in a café for cake and coffee. May be that was the first day in her life she sat by herself sipping coffee enjoying a piece of cake. For sure she has travelled, been to the best of places and had amenities but in her heart, mind and soul she was always a mother, a wife and a care-giver. So that evening was such a pleasure.
She shopped so much, I kept saying, “Maa, do it for yourself. We are all grown up and can take care of ourselves.” Yes, Maa was happy, just being herself. I have come to realize and believe that if all women in the society is left to be free in there pursuits of life, we will create not only an equal world but a much happier and creative world.
It was this summer, I was home. Maa was reading beside me. The night hung itself in the electric pole nearby, buttoning the stars closely to itself. For the first time in my life, I talked about a friend and things I only talked to myself. Not even to Devina, the only one in this whole wide world, I have ever shared my grief with. That night I told Maa, why I am angry with someone. There is a sorrow I felt each time, I looked back at the most beautiful relationship that was carved in the niche of innocence and deep reverence. I confessed that I never knew the exact moment when I started praying for someone’s happiness before mine; and would wait for those two seconds before the Mandir to say a silent prayer because someone had a bad dream, and then ran to college to attend the 8:40 class. That night I cried like the 17 year old kid who would sit and pray every night so that someone gets the university grants and skip lunch for days to save up for one birthday ISD call. These are things I never spoke off even to my best friends.
Maa in reply, did not bash the other person or accused me of feeling that way for someone. She just said that it is O.K. and she understands it. Suddenly the burden shifted. There was a sudden relief to know that someone understands without judgment. Maa asked to give it a closure, which only I could. That night my soul let all go. And I never disturbed the gentleman concerned again. Now, I hope wherever Siddhartha (not his real name) is and whatever he chooses he will always do well and stay happy. Maa’s compassion that night washed away everything.
Next morning, Maa drove me to the airport. I saw her in the glass door while she sadly waved at me at the departure lounge. I did not look back. Otherwise she would have seen my tears. But I stepped into the Dibrugarh- New Delhi aircraft, lighter and confident. Through my streaming tears, I smiled at the careless afternoon sky and tossed my hair back as the airhostess came to help me with my luggage.