My mother has had a near mishap yesterday. Ever since I heard about it, my heart has been in my mouth and I haven’t been able to think beyond “what if…?”
I never was an easy child to rear. She had problems when she carried me – with tiring household work and an unusually big tummy, the complications persisted till my birth. And once outside in the big bright world, I didn’t make her life any easier. As a child I was cranky – never the one to have her food in peace – always crying, sulking and creating a ruckus for small issues – the brunt of which was all borne by her.
Remarkably, I did improve with age, just as how some pundit had predicted! But the realization of how much I had taken her for granted did not dawn upon me till I myself got married and stepped into a different world and family, which I had to make my own.
She is a working mother. Though I was lucky to have had her undivided attention till my primary school days, my sis was quite young when she went back to her job. But never in our lives have we felt deprived of her motherly love, presence or attention. For twenty long years she has been doing it all – right from waking up at the stroke of dawn to cooking breakfast and lunch for our boxes – within the two hours she would get before having to rush to catch the office cab. Evenings were no different – she would get back from work and cook dinner for us & chapattis for dad, as me and my sis got busy with our books. I can only think of very few occasions where I’ve had to take a break from my books to help in the kitchen. At no point were me or my sis, told that we being girls had to learn cooking. Scores of times have we cribbed – “ayyo, matte uppitt-aa?!!” or “avalakki tindu bEjar aagide!”. But the disgruntlement I feel with just twenty months of cooking – there’s a stab of regret every time I am reminded of those words of complain and the hurt it must’ve caused her. Despite all rants and raves, she’s been managing it beautifully – like only how a mother can.
I miss the tenderness of her soft touch and the warmth of her lap. I miss those small acts of motherly concern – the tall glass of milk she would hand out when I woke up early during exam times – even if it was a non-working day she would wake up with me, just so that I wouldn’t be hungry; the firm persuasion to eat just a little more of the fruit; the welcome cup of hot coffee and biscuits after a long day at work – gestures I know nobody else will ever do for me again. She cries like a baby when she’s worried that I’m not taking good care of myself and grimaces with pain when I tell her I burnt my fingers cooking. Two weeks and if we don’t meet, she complains that it’s been ages since she saw me. And all I can think of now are the numerous occasions when I have caused her pain – acts of disobedience or sharp retorts, dismissal of something she bought as not good enough, disapproval of some new dish she tried cooking – oh! So many occasions when I could’ve made her life that little bit easier by lending a helping hand or co-operating better… the list would just go on. It’s sad really – the convenient way in which we take our parents for granted – more so, our mothers.
Amma, today, here, I take refuge in words to tell how much you mean to me. I know sorrys and thank yous are meaningless in this context and relationship; but there’s a small voice in my mind which persists in reiterating – “you could have done better!” And now, when I no longer live under the same roof as you; have to wait for weeks to meet you and only fondly reminisce your loving gestures, I can only keep you in my prayers and entrust your safety and responsibility to the most caring person I know – you.
Take care, amma.