How much has been written on this – and yet, how much more can be written? That mellifluous word, when heard, taps into our soul, and tears well up in our eyes. Imagine the connect we have with this person – when its title alone produces such a strong impact on our bodies.
Yes, you got it – the person in question here is none but a mother. A person, who gives it all relentlessly – and often adopts her offspring’s ways as her own.
I was raised in a happy family, with compatible parents and a doting sister. The commander-in-chief in my childhood home makes sure that things are done in a systematic fashion. She is a complete house-maker, and god has gifted her with a will-power and persistence that is impervious to the battering of doubts.
Even though my mother’s cooking and home management skills is exquisite, she is naive to the world of English. She often feels left out, when surrounded by people who speak it with lightning speed.
This is where she displays her best aspect – that of a learner who will not quit. I vividly remember the time I was in class six. Being a demotivated, below-average student, I had no hope in my syllabus books. On one such day, when I shut my science book after a fruitless battle, my mother called me to the kitchen and asked me if I had studied anything. When I nodded, she asked me to open the relevant chapter and place the book in her hand. The 11-year-old me wondered what her mother was up to.
She then 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’s listen to what you have studied!)” I guess she understood my perplexed expression, and hence, said – “Samajh nahi sakti, sun toh sakti hoon. (Even though I may not understand, I can still listen to it.)”
I did not fair well in reciting what I learnt – but I did learn fairly well how far my mother would go to help me in every sphere of life. She was already my caretaker, my laundrywoman, my cook, my Hindi and Sanskrit tutor – but now, she was also venturing into spaces 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. In fact, I went to a missionary school.
Parents of this generation ‘re-learn’ academics with their children. My mother learnt with me – rather, for me.
Another such instance, which I fondly recall, occurred in early 2010. Social media had taken the world by storm, and my mother wanted to learn and use this technology, too. After all, she is a person who likes to learn and keep herself updated.
At that time, I was living in the US, when my mother’s long-pending request of having her own Facebook account finally took shape. We had a two-hour-long video call, where I gave her a demonstration of how Facebook operates. It was one of the most productive hours of my life, as I went through a storm of emotions during that period.
I laughed when she jumped with joy after completing step one – opening the web browser. I admired her and egged her on while she struggled to find letters in the keypad. I shed a tear to see her scribble username and password on a paper for future references and empathised with her as she tried hard to unravel the mysteries of undiscovered territories (world wide web and Facebook). Above all, I took pride in her when she said – “Thank you beta, tum dekhna main jaldi hi seekh jaungi ye sab. (Thank you, child. You just watch how quickly I’ll learn all this.)” She then gave me that smile which said – you’re never too late!
At that moment, I desperately wanted to get into my computer, hug her tight and tell her, “You’re a true warrior, mommy, you’ll always be!”
Your own mother is your inspiration in every way. Only you know what she has experienced and sacrificed for you. While my mother is my ‘Momspiration’, I can’t complete my post without honouring another mother, who changed my outlook on motherhood.
Unlike me, my husband had a troubled childhood. His parents split when he was barely ten, and, along with his two younger brothers, he was 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 house-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 came, he became a ‘mother’ to his two brothers.
Right from making lunch box to experimenting with easy dinner recipes and from polishing shoes to helping his younger brother at arts and crafts projects – he did all he could. A few years back, during one of our conversations, he mentioned how the three brothers took bread with butter and jam to school for two years.
“What, seriously? Weren’t you guys bored?” I asked, in a shocked tone.
“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 the tiffin-boxes, a night before. As the mornings were busy, we used to just grab our lunch boxes from the fridge and run to school.” my husband replied.
As my eyes grew moist, he said, while grinning, “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 had sent.”
My thought on hearing this was that 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 which you had – but somehow, you do not appreciate it fully.
He did everything that my mother did for me – except that he was still a child who needed a mother, himself. That’s the beauty of this relationship. It erupts without being told. What he got in return was the affection and honour of his siblings. The kind of connect my brothers-in-law have with their eldest brother is the same as the one that I have with my mother, or the one Mysha has with me.
Just like one doesn’t necessarily need to carry a child in a womb to be a mother, one also 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.
If one thinks about it, we all are innate mothers – which is not dependent on birthing, but on the sprouting of right emotions.