I was about 3 years old, when I remember my mom standing by the door in a blue chiffon nightgown. She was amazingly beautiful. I did not think anyone or anything could be more elegantly pretty. I could not take my eyes off her face. She had been singing to me. I still remember the song…..” Va mummy va mummy va….vannoru umma tha mummy tha mummy tha”….The song had been crappy but I fell in love with her.
On another day, our neighbour said something annoying about me (It’s a no brainer that I must have been naughty) and I was stunned, literally could not move to see tears rolling down my mother’s lovely cheeks. I never thought adults could cry, certainly not my mother.I never thought it was possible. I, for the first time felt a pain in my chest that made it difficult for me to breathe. Yet I was not crying. I felt numb. I was heart broken. She looked at me, lowered herself and I knew she knew. She knew what I felt. She switched back to her normal self and said I was to consult with her before I did anything. I promised I would.
As I grew up, my mother let me be. I remember her to be away from home a lot. She always came back home with the largest grin on her face. She was funny and so full of life. I decided that’s the kind of attitude to life I would want for myself.
We, my mom and I travelled a lot together. We’ve had some amazingly adventurous train journeys. There had been once when my mom fell sick with fever and our train broke down. We had to switch to some other random train in some deserted railway station. Again, there was once when our train derailed and we walked several kilometers, then hitchhiked to the next railway station. So much for the Indian system, Indians are mostly left to fend for themselves, unless they want to wait endlessly for help. My mom could take care of herself and me though. She had been courageous and so independent. I had imagined then that one day I would ride somewhere with a daughter of my own, just the two of us, like my mother and I.
During my teen years, I had trouble with the world I was in. Which teen wasn’t, right? It had been the toughest years of my life. The only reason I could keep going was my mother’s undying trust in me. I had wanted to hurt myself but I knew that would devastate my mother. Only her. Everyone else I thought could live without me. My mother had been my rock. Today I try to be the same for my children.
When I was at college, almost a graduate, I remember my mother in an olive green silk saree. Her saree draped around her curves beautifully in a way that made my classmates half her age look older than her. I could not have looked at myself of course, and so I compared her with the available kids around her. I mean my mother looked young. She was fit. She was healthy. She still is. It’s always inspired me to keep a watch on my body.
My mother has had her share of adversities. Loss of my father was devastating. She had to uproot herself and move. She has not waited for anyone to pick her up. She adapts. She changes. She learns all about the unfamiliar quicker than anyone I know. She finds new friends everywhere. I have never met a stronger woman than her.