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A beautiful note on the spirit of motherhood: Motherhood is about nurturing, and sometimes, a mother emerges from a place that one doesn’t expect.
How much has been written on this, and yet, how much more can be written! That mellifluous word, when heard, taps our soul and salty water wells up in our eyes. Imagine the connect we have with this person, when its title alone makes such a strong impact on our body. Yes, you got it! It’s no one else but a mother. A person, who gives it all relentlessly, and often, makes her offspring’s way, her way.
I am raised in a happy family, with compatible parents and a doting sister. The commander-in-chief in my childhood home makes sure things are done in a systematic fashion. She is a complete homemaker, and God gifted her with a will power and persistence that is impervious to the battering of doubts. Even though my mother’s cooking skills and home management are exquisite, she is naive to the world of English. She often feels left out when surrounded by people who speak the second language of our country with lightning speed.
This is where she displays her best aspect –a learner who will not quit. I vividly remember the time I was in the sixth standard. Being a demotivated, below average student, I had no hope in my syllabus books and vice-versa. On one such day , when I shut my science book to no avail, she called me to her kitchen and asked if I had studied anything. When I nodded, she asked me to open the chapter and place the book in her hand. The 11-year-old wondered what her mother was upto.
She placed the book neatly in front of the stainless steel boxes, which were lined from left to right in a descending order. Next she asked me to take a few steps back so that the black ants on the white page became blurry to me. While still frying ladies’ fingers in mustard oil my mother said – “Sunao kya padha hai?” (Let me hear what you’ve learnt). I guess she judged my perplexed eyes and said – “samajh nahi sakti, sun toh sakti soon.” (I may not understand, but I can listen to you).
I did not fare well in reciting what I learnt, but I did fairly well learn how far my mother could go to help me in every sphere of life. She was already being my caretaker, my laundrywoman, my cook, my Hindi and Sanskrit tutor, but now she was also venturing into the space where she had her own insecurities. In this country, more than a language, English is an obsession. Every parent wants their children to go to an English medium school and I went to a missionary one.
Parents of this generation relearn academics with their children, my mother learnt with me, rather, for me.
Another such instance, which makes me warm, occurred in early 2010. Social media had taken the world by storm and my mother wanted to practice technology too. As said before, she is one person who likes to learn and keep herself updated. I was living in the US at that time, and gave shape to my mother’s pending request – her own Facebook account. We had a two hour long video call, where I gave her a demo of Facebook operations. It was one of the most productive hours of my life as I went through a hurricane of emotions during that period. I laughed when she jumped with joy after completing step 1 – opening the web browser; admired her while she struggled to find letters in the keypad; shed a tear to see her scribble username & password on a paper for future references; empathized with her when she tried hard to unravel the mysteries of an undiscovered territory (WWW, more so Facebook), but above all I took pride in her when she said – “Thank you beta, tum dekhna main jaldi hi seekh jaungi ye sab.” (See how fast I’ll learn!) She then gave me that smile which said – You’re never too late!
At that moment, I so wanted to get into my computer, hug her tight and tell her – You’re a true warrior mummy, you’ll always be!
Your own mother is your inspiration in every way. Only you know what she experienced and sacrificed for you. While my mother is my Momspiration, I can’t complete my post without honouring another mother, which changed my outlook on motherhood.
Unlike me, my husband had a troubled childhood. His parents split when he was barely ten, and he along with his two younger brothers were left in the custody of their father. It was a home with no woman. As my father-in-law was busy picking up the pieces of his failing business, little Shahzeel (my husband) rose to the occasion and learnt the art of taking care of his family and home keeping. No wonder the man is a great cook, keeps the house clean and can take care of our daughter (Mysha) as well as I can. He had learnt these traits as a child, and took over his role with full diligence. When the time called, he became a mother to his two brothers.
Right from making the lunch box, to experimenting with easy dinner recipes, from polishing shoes to helping his younger brother at SUPW, he did all that he could. A few years back, in one of our conversations he mentioned how these three brothers took bread butter and jam for two straight years to school.
“What, seriously? Weren’t you guys bored?” I was shocked and the words fell right out my mouth.
“Well. I did not have time to cook school-lunch for all three every morning. So I made things simple and applied jam and butter on either sides of the bread and prepared tiffin boxes a night before. As mornings were busy, we used to just grab our lunch box from the fridge and run to school.”
As my eyes got wet, he said, “Don’t be sad. Firstly, jam and butter is delicious when applied together. Secondly and more importantly, there were a lot of idiots in school who exchanged my lame sandwich for their rich ghee parathas which their mothers sent.” He showed his teeth while saying the last line.
My thought at that hour – I was one of the lucky ones whose mother took the pain of preparing those parathas. You count your blessings when you meet someone who is deprived of something you had, but somehow you did not appreciate it fully.
He did everything my mother did for me, except he was still a child who himself needed a mother. That’s the beauty of this relationship. It erupts without being told. What he got in return is the affection and honor of his siblings. The kind of connect my brothers-in-law have with their eldest brother is the same that I have with my mother, or Mysha has with me.
Like one doesn’t necessarily need to carry a child in a womb to be a mother, one even doesn’t need a female quotient attached to it. Motherhood is about what you do, rather than, who you are. It’s about nurturing – irrespective of gender. To think about it, we all are innate mothers, which is not dependent on birthing, but sprouting of the right emotions.
First published here
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