Que sera sera…
endless cups of chai…
midnight conversations like gossipy schoolgirls
*cross my heart and hope to die* kind of secrets
Wait Ma! let me adjust the saree pleats…
Why are you not wearing your heels?
*sigh* What will you do without me Ma?
You, my dawter, are a drama queen.
Conversations and fashion queries over the phone
Which bindi will go with this saree?
*sigh*Which saree ma?
You remember that temple border one? Amber-ish?
Oh!okay. I have kept everything on the table in my room . Your jewelery, bindis everything.
An old relative says, She looks just as you did at her age.
We look at each other with plain amazement.
Is the resemblance so striking?
The way she looks on fascinated when people say I resemble her….She finds a part of herself in my laugh…
She is petite. I am not.
She is delicate. I am not.
She is patient. Very. I am not.
She is a singer. A beautiful one. I am not.
And yet there are so many traces of her in me.
The bookaholic in me? That’s her to a T.
The one who hoards old stuff for sentimental reasons? That’s her too.
Who argues incessantly for what she believes in. Her again.
The good qualities? You get all those from my side of the family she says with a twinkle in her eyes….
Just to rile dad.
That bluntness, that impatient stubbornness ? You get it from him.
What will be, will be….
The philosophy of the most special person in my life. The one whom I love the most. Have loved ever since I could understand what this emotion meant.
I have written about my loved ones on these pages. Jotted down everything I possibly could. About a father who is such a bundle of contradictions and my first ‘hero’:). About two brothers who mean the world to me. And the hell we all have been through together.Of the loony times this family has had.I have written about the four-legged baby of the family. In short I have written about everyone.
But I have not written about one person. One who means the world to me. One who is the gentlest soul I have ever known. A petite lady who looks so young that people have been forced to ask. Really?? You have a son in the army?Your daughter’s getting married?:O
Its the toughest to write about her. What do I write? Where do I start? Our relationship is complicated. We have gone through the ups and downs together . Many of them.
Hers is the shoulder I have cried on. Many a time.
The way our relationship has evolved. From that of a mother and daughter to one where we were best friends forever:) To that of two women standing almost equal. Trying to understand what makes the other happy. Trying to absorb the other’s pain.
Of how the world sometimes is not fair. That is the time we have had each other to hold on to. When no man in the world could understand what we were going through. When even dad and the two brothers have been unable to understand completely. Because they cant. Only we both do.
The way your eyes light up when you talk of your firstborn. Your daughter. The memories that you share with me. Of how ecstatic you and dad were. Its a sight to see ma. That happiness of yours.
I know how hurt you were when a 12 year old girl wrote ‘I hate her’ in her ‘secret’ diary.
All because she had not been given permission to go for some school picnic.
You saw it lying in my room and picked it up with a smile thinking that you would read about crushes.
What you read instead broke your heart for a moment.
But you never said anything.
You came to me with a smile and kissed me goodnight.
You knew this was a phase. that I would get over it.
And I did.
Then a phase where you said ”we both will be best friends okay?’ with the cutest smile ever. ‘Promise?’.
I nodded my head, more than happy to be part of this conspiracy. More than happy to exclude the three ‘boys’ of our family.
And we invented our own secret handshake.:D
You and I would discuss everything under the sun. From studies to the debates I lost to the games I won.
From teachers I hated to the boys I thought I was in ‘love’ with.
And through it all, one constant reminder of yours.
Life goes on. Everything is temporary.Success, failure, disappointment.
The way you gently guided me through all the changes I was going through. Emotional and biological.
And I was so confused and unsure. But never scared. Never that. For, you were always there beside me.
I have never seen a more sunny spirit than you Ma. Never have I seen you wake up grouchy. Mornings in our home have always been cheerful and mini talkathons. Because of you.
The way we kids would wake up in a jiffy because dad was going to office and we had to be awake on time to show him that we were not ‘lazybones’.
The way you would tell us with a conspiratorial grin,”go back to sleep’ the moment dad stepped out of the house.
Or how about our time in Mhow? When dad would wake up three little kiddos who would sit up all bleary eyed.
The way dad would almost shoo us out of the house at 5:30 in the morning believing in that age old credo of early to bed and early to rise. And the way barely 15 minutes later you would let us in through the garden. Sneakily.:D
The way I would bunk college just so we could sit with each other and have a cuppa of chai and gossip our heart out?
Hoe many times have I bunked college just because you gave me that look that said,” hey lets go for a movie today? Or how about going to explore Delhi”?
We have had fun haven’t we ma? Together we have explored every corner of this city.
The history student in you who listens enraptured to the guide who rambles on and on about the fort. I am trying to pull you. Come on ma!I can tell you these facts later na?
Shhh! Stand here and imagine how it must have been hundreds of years before.Breathe in the air. You are walking where kings and queens once lived. Where the Praja came to the king to tell him about their woes. These walls can tell you so many tales.Can you feel the magic ?
I simply smile.
No Ma. The magic is not in the place . Its in you. The history student, the wanderer, the dreamer who finds a magical place wherever she goes.
Sometimes when out of the blue, the way you just come upto me and say,” you don’t ever stop working ?Okay? you hear me?” wagging that finger in my face. ”Okay ma,” I say with a smile. Because I am trying to understand your fears. You are apprehensive, unsure…of how your little girl is going to live on her own. If your little girl’s prince charming will always keep her happy.
You know he will. You have met him. You know him. And yet a corner of your heart is never sure.
And you will never be sure. I know that too. You will keep worrying till I am 60.
And then sometimes when you say,” dont ever lose who you are.” .Whats going through your mind Ma?Which fears?
She wakes up really late. She doesn’t know how to cook. She is so impatient. She doesn’t even know how to wear a saree. What will she do at all those formal do’s? She is so naive.
Random thoughts that keep going through your head. They make you worry so much.
Because no one knows your daughter the way you do.
The way we both give each other ‘those’ looks at weddings and parties. The one that only both of us ‘get’.
Gossip, criticism, admiration, plain girlish nonsense…all of it conveyed with just a look.(maybe we would be better off with the CIA Ma:D)
Our traditions.The ones you and I have made. Girls night out. Movies, lunches, dinners and no guys ‘allowed’. No matter how much *ahem*the three of them ‘plead’.
Sometimes when you get on my case. Determined that you will teach me how to cook even if it takes a lifetime. You dont know how to cook!!! you say with a horrified look.(the horrified look is so Ekta Kapoor-ish Ma!! I say)
And just when we both are going to get into an argument about feminism and all the hoo ha.. you undergo a mood change and say ,”Oh well. Even I didn’t know how to cook when I got married .” ”He knows how to cook na? Thats good enough for now” you say with a mile wide grin and a wink.
The only time I have seen you helpless is when I have wrapped myself in a cocoon and withdrawn from everyone. That is the time I have seen you sit by my side silently. Unable to do anything and yet unwilling to leave me alone.
I cannot imagine what goes through a mother’s heart when she sees her child in pain. Of what it does to her when she sees her child in tears and is unable to do anything about it. I can only imagine.
Such times have been hell for you . I know. I know the murderous rage you feel for those who have made your daughter cry.
She is a singer. My mother. A philosopher too. And the one whom everyone comes to in times of crisis.
My school and college friends who would come for night stays and would whisper and gossip with my mom. They felt at home with this charming confidante who was unlike any mother they had seen.
She sings. Twenty four seven.:) And has a voice that justifies the degree she has in vocal music. Dad also sings. All the time. And between the two of them and their fav line said with a woebegone face ,” if only our children also sang *sigh* ‘‘ and three kids who are nowhere close to being singers(of any sort!!) life in our home is darn interesting at all times.:D
The way she deflects that age old question with such ease,” Who is your most fav among us Ma?” Gah! You should have been a politician Ma!!.!:P
She always has a cure for our hurts. And our worries. Sometimes she will get up in the middle of the night and just come and sit beside me. And just look .
What is going through her mind? I don’t know. I can just guess. Is she thinking of how her daughter will be leaving in just a few months to make a home of her own?
We mothers are learning to mark our mothering success by our daughters’ lengthening flight.
~ Letty Cottin Pogrebin
She is happy…beyond happy all because her daughter has found the ‘One’. She is proud of her daughter’s choices in life. From studies to professional to personal. The only one who supported her daughter’s choice of becoming a teacher wholeheartedly. She is proud of her daughter and the woman she has grown up to be.
But there is a momentary pang she goes through when she hears his mother asking me to call her mom. She is happy. But its a strange kind of happiness. She is happy that there is a family that is so loving. A family that loves her daughter like their very own.
And yet there’s a little yearning that she has deep inside. To be the only one in her daughter’s life. The way she was when I was a 12 year old.
I can see that anguish on your face Ma. And I want to tell you . That no one can take your place. Not now. Not ever.
But I don’t say anything. Neither do you. We are testing the waters here. Treading cautiously. This is new for both of us. All these new relationships.
You are trying to adjust yourself to the fact that your daughter has someone special in her life. Someone who has come to mean so much to her.
And you yearn. I know you do.
You yearn for those midnight conversations that we used to have once upon a time. Conversations that have now been missing for sometime because your daughter is blissfully lost in a world of her own.
A daughter is a mother’s gender partner, her closest ally in the family confederacy, an extension of her self. And mothers are their daughters’ role model, their biological and emotional road map, the arbiter of all their relationships. ~Victoria Secunda
You have let me make mistakes. You have cautioned me against certain things and still your stubborn headed daughter has gone ahead. And stumbled. Bigtime. And yet, never have you ever said I told you so. And for that I love you so much.
We have ‘hated’ and loved each other in equal measure. Shouted at each other like loonies. Gone off in a huff swearing to never ever talk to each other again.
And then the peace treaty. Offered with a cup of chai.:) Sometimes you and sometimes me. That’s what love is. And friendship too. And a belief that seeps into your very bones. That this right here is permanent. That no matter what I do, you will always be there.
Grown don’t mean nothing to a mother. A child is a child. They get bigger, older, but grown? What’s that suppose to mean? In my heart it don’t mean a thing. ~Toni Morrison, Beloved, 1987
I will always be your little girl. In need of your home cooked food, your advice, your awesome collection of jewelery(:D) , your gorgeous sarees(;)) your warm hugs. And love. A lot of it. The soul stirring kind.
And this I will always keep in mind. For, you remind me of this often.
”Never grow a wishbone, daughter, where you backbone ought to be.”
There is a lot more to say. In the years ahead.
But for now…this one’s for you ma. Only for you.
Whether our relationship is strained or easy, hostile or amiable, we need [our mother] if only in memory or fantasy, to conjugate our history, validate our femaleness, and guide our way. We need to know she’s there if we stumble, to love us no matter what, to nurture the child that resides within us even now without infantalizing us.
- Victoria Secunda
The pictures have been taken from Google. I apologize since I have lost the weblinks I took them from. If anyone has any objection, I will remove them.