‘A Woman’s Life Is Full Of Pain’, My Mother Had Told Me…

She single-handedly took care of a joint family consisting of 4 children, 2 old in-laws, 4 of my father's unmarried sisters, and 1 unmarried brother.

“Laju bete, a woman’s life is full of pain. It’s just the beginning.”

My mother was a simple woman, not a philosopher. That’s why when she said this to me when I complained about period pain at the age of fifteen, her words stuck with me.

Even if she had never said that, witnessing her life was a cautionary tale in itself. She was what you call a ‘karma yogi’—single-handedly serving a joint family consisting of four children, two old in-laws, and four of my father’s unmarried sisters and one unmarried brother.

I remember being scared of growing up, getting married, and reducing my life to serving a house full of dependents.

Those were the times when servants were not heard of. Or an occasional housemaid to help with dishes and clothes would visit hourly. My mother would complain about knee and heel pain when she would go to sleep at night. I wondered, is this the pain she had been talking about?

Hearing her impart wisdom about how girls should behave and what they should wear, I differed silently and promised myself I’d never be like her. I thought it was easy to be like her, suppressed and a sacrifier.

But then I got married, and my mother-in-law was nothing like her

I realized I had the choice not to sacrifice myself for the family. But still, occasionally, there were clashes, and I would complain to my mother on the phone. It annoyed me further when she advised me to look inside myself, and what I was doing wrong instead of complaining.

I would then not talk to her for days.

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As my mother got older and freer from the responsibility of the house, I saw a new woman. She joined a community of satsangis like most women her age, but she was not like most of them. She incorporated the teachings in the sermons and dedicated the rest of her life to trying to better herself. She devoted her youth to her duties, and after sixty, she embraced life the way she wanted to live it.

It was hard when you had two sons living with their wives under the same roof. She was blamed for favoritism by her sons. She cried. I thought she was talking about this unbearable pain that only your kids can inflict on you when she gave her two cents about pain to me. But she wasn’t the one to hold a grudge. Mothers rarely are.

She always lacked the confidence to go out on her own because she thought she’d be unable to manage since she didn’t know English. So, after sixty, she started working on what she felt she lacked. I found many notebooks in her room that we shared whenever I went to her house after marriage. She started learning English and collected inspirational quotes. At the age of sixty, my mother was writing nursery rhymes.

When she was seventy, I understood the real meaning of pain. It was about the same time when she was diagnosed with abdominal cancer, and the Covid-19 pandemic started in India in March 2020. I could not go to see her because there were no flights. And when finally, in July, I traveled ten hours to Gurgaon to see her; she was in the hospital.

When I saw her lying on a hospital bed in ICU, I couldn’t recognize her. Her shrivelled hands, swollen red body, and closed eyes made an impression of how much she was still enduring.  She couldn’t see me. After twelve days, she left us to know what being without pain feels like finally.

Image source: by loncar from Getty Images Free for Canva Pro

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About the Author

Anuradha Dev

I'm a reader and a teacher. My love for books and kids has kept me occupied till now. Now I want to venture into writing to pen down my thoughts. Thanks for reading. read more...

6 Posts | 1,591 Views

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