Why I’m Helping My Mother To Launch Her Brand Krish’s Jam & Jelly!

We decided to launch “Dadiamma”, my mother’s brand of homemade, preservative-free jams and jellies made from jaggery. As I write this piece, my children and their grandmother are busy putting stickers on the jam bottles.

January 20, 2022. The call came at 3.30 p.m. My father’s fight was over. Over the next two hours, I planned the activities for the day and then prepared for the most important task. The task of informing my mother, who was still praying and hoping for her husband’s recovery. At 6 a.m, I rode out. Hands steady, head clear, normal speed. At the entrance to my mother’s apartment, I stopped briefly. It was going to be the toughest moment. For I would have to break the news to my mother. With my sister on the phone, I went in, woke her up, and held her. No words were needed, for she had guessed it. Ma broke down. Deep sobs wracked her body.

In my 43 years of existence, I have never seen my mother cry. She has always been a dignified lady with a remarkable grip on her emotions.

That morning, as I held the weeping form of my mother, my thoughts went back to my growing-up years.

My Mother – everyone’s envy, her daughter’s pride!

Painfully thin and shy, I was often ridiculed and badly bullied. But Ma always had my back. She had the wittiest reply for the perpetrators. And we would marvel at her sarcasm. To us, our mother was and is the epitome of beauty and intellect.

I was in pigtails then. It was time for dispersal. One by one, we filed out of school. A crowd had formed just outside our gate. The girls were discussing something. I moved in closer to catch their conversation.

‘Oooh… she is gorgeous.’

‘She drives a Maruti van.’

‘Those shades…so cool. How confident and smart she is.’

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‘Who is her child? Is she as beautiful as her mom?’

I peered out to see a lady in a crisp, white cotton sari leaning against a camel-coloured Maruti van. One hand rested on the bonnet, and the other held a purse. I strode out, holding my head high, to greet the lady, who happened to be my mother.

She was our role model. We tried hard to emulate her.

Courage was her middle name

It was the year 1987. The landline rang in the evening, informing us about the crisis at our ancestral place. My father was away. Ma ordered us to pack without delay. It was raining heavily. Visibility was zero, and the roads were not safe for a family of four females. Handing each of us a sharp weapon in case of an emergency, Ma put up a brave front us and drove to Burdwan. Not only do I remember the fear, and the dread that brewed within the confines of our speeding car, I also remember the firm, unperturbed frame of my mother.

Another memory that crops up is the night when Baba fell sick. We helped Ma put Baba into the car. She drove away at 2 am, leaving behind a series of instructions for our safety. That was Ma – fearless and undaunted.

She taught us to face our fears!

I have often asked her. ‘Don’t you feel scared?’

She has always smiled back. ‘I am. But it doesn’t help, right? Fear only robs us of our rationality. Instead, face your fears and put an end to them. ‘

It’s exactly what she taught me when I was in the eleventh grade. I had just started riding out on my own for tuition. By the time I returned home, it would be dark. Off late, I noted a group of boys tailing me. Soon they gained enough courage to follow me home, passing lewd remarks. Too scared to share, I kept it to myself. Also, Baba was seldom at home, and Ma had my sister to focus on. One evening, it took an ugly turn when those boys surrounded me and made an indecent proposal. Enraged and scared, I fumbled and then rode away at breakneck speed. As the next class loomed large, I lost sleep and grew fidgety.

That fateful evening, the boys blocked my path again. This time, they threatened to use force if I did not give in. Trembling, I stood there. That’s when lights from a vehicle lit up the narrow, dark lane. A car came to a halt. My parents and their friends stepped out. Catching hold of the boys, they threatened to take action against them. Later, Ma told me that she got a whiff when I started acting strange and decided to follow me back from my tuition. Every day, she followed me home, observed everything, and decided to confront the troublemakers. Baba took a leave, enlisted his friends, and joined in. Not once did they let me know their plans. She wanted me to face my fear first and emerge stronger.

I think that’s how I became strong. Bit by bit. All those incidents that I faced and the way Ma handled them made me learn important lessons, empowering me gradually. I never realised their value, until I moved out, settled elsewhere, married, and became a mother.

I have now become her source of strength

I have inherited many of my mother’s traits. Honest. Bold. Fierce. Unapologetic and proud! Ma has taught us to face every circumstance with strength.

The tables turned when, in 2018, my father was diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease (PD) and Chronic Kidney Failure (CKD).

Ma remained exceptionally strong, battling everything and staying afloat. It was then also my turn to rise up to the situation and give her support for the tough battle ahead.

I had to relocate my parents from our ancestral home as there were no medical facilities there, that could save my father. A chain of incidents followed. Our relatives took advantage and usurped our properties. They declared my parents dead and forged their identities. The choice was ours. Either we let it pass or face it.

I looked at my mother for a signal. She looked back at me, determination written large on her face. We fought back. Threats from the goons, pressure from our relatives, huge financial expenses on legal proceedings, learning the land rules and regulations – we fought it all. In all this, Ma stood like a pillar, egging us on to move ahead.

The gradual weakening of the strength

But as my father slowly deteriorated, I also witnessed the gradual weakening of my mother. She had insisted on being the sole carer for Baba, which involved 24*7 care, hospital rounds, cleaning him, feeding him, taking him out for walks, and lying awake the whole night watching him struggle. In doing so, she stopped taking care of herself.

But nothing could hold back my father. My mother’s descent began. From a strong woman to a vulnerable and depressed woman, she gave up on her coloured saris, her favourite shade of lipstick, and her bindis. Pale and gloomy, we could no longer bear to look at her. There was also the constant societal pressure to give up non-vegetarian fare, perform vrats and lead a spartan life, praying for her husband’s peace.

Getting our mother back!

It took us a couple of months to weed those negative influencers away from her life and remind her that our father, who always appreciated Ma for her beauty, grace, and domineering spirit, would never appreciate this weaker, regressive version of hers. My father loved his wife dressed in splendour. He appreciated when my mother drove around running errands for the Mahila Samaj. He had always acknowledged her role in bringing up the children single-handedly. He would say, ‘Krishna can do anything and everything.’

These words hit the right chord. We saw her gradually getting back to her earlier avatar. Routine monthly facials, shopping for clothes, going on solo trips, picking up hobbies like gardening and painting, turning into a voracious reader and a Netflix loyalist – we got back our mother!

She still misses her partner, but derives enough strength from her memories, her daughters, and her grandchildren.

One of her favourite hobbies is making jam from various seasonal fruits. My children love to assist her. A week ago, we decided to launch, “Dadiamma”, my mother’s brand of homemade, preservative-free jams and jellies made from jaggery. As I write this piece, my children and their grandmother are busy putting stickers on the jam bottles.

All those who have witnessed the journey give credit to her daughters. But let me tell you that it’s not a single-handed endeavour. We have been brought up on liberal doses of our mother’s strength. When the time came, we displayed the strength that we had learned from her.

Strength is a legacy that was passed down from my maternal grandmother to her daughters and then to us. As custodians of this rich legacy, we have protected and preserved it well.

Editor’s Note:  Join us this Mother’s Day by using the hashtag #LegacyOfStrength and sharing your story, of how your mother (or mother in law!) has influenced your career in a similar field or how you have made an impact as a woman in business, inspired by her strength and resilience. Perhaps your mother started a business inspired by you or vice versa? Whatever your story is, we want to celebrate the powerful bond between mothers and daughters and the legacy of strength that you share.. Let’s inspire and uplift each other as we honour the incredible women who have shaped our lives.

Read all the #LegacyOfStrength stories here.

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About the Author

S Sen

Sreemati Sen holds a Masters in Social Work from Visva Bharati, Shantiniketan. She is a Development Professional, specialised in Psychiatric care of Differently Abled Children. That hasn’t stopped her from exploring other fields. Years read more...

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