When I was born, my mother was 28. That was over fifteen years ago. Her shiny black hair went well below her waist. I can imagine how she looked from her photographs –and also our photographs together. She was a little stout. Miraculously, she became slimmer even than her teenage years after the arrival of me and my younger brother. The reason is not clear but it could as well be the pressure of work. In the last several years, she, a home-maker and mother of two, has not spent a single day without work. All day I watch her rush around, unnoticed. On those days when everyone in the house gets down with viral fever, she seems to challenge it –“Get out! I am too busy for you.”
As in most cases, kitchen is her part of the house but my mother is a health freak. On most days, her efforts result in things like boiled Dal, boiled eggs, porridge, etc. etc. all with minimal sugar, minimal salt, minimal spices. If anything has something minimal, she will enjoy cooking it. On this point, she has fought with everyone in the house –us both, my Dad and my grandparents. But she scarcely noted our comments on her cooking. “How did Mummy forget cooking…!”
On other days, she started ranting about the importance of ‘healthy food’. It went on and on like a radio till we protested- “Okay! We have heard it all thrice this week.”
Then, in the years that came by, we saw marked improvement not just in our old grand-parents’ health but in ours too. We never said ‘Thanks’ for it. We should have. She never needed to put up with our comments. She is actually one of the most fantastic cooks. She keeps experimenting with food and finds new ways to cook. On special occasions, she makes sumptuous meals –samosas, pakodas, jalebis, Malpuas, cake or whatever goes with the atmosphere- and we eat heartily. On our birthdays, she is sure to ask us brother and sister what we especially want to eat. Even on her birthday.
I love to hear her laugh and I hate to see her angry –sometimes she is. Then it is too much. She screams and screams and screams. And there is no stopping her. In the middle of this anger, the reason is almost always us two, our future, our dreams, our hopes and her hopes for us. Even her complaints centre on us- Why don’t we sit down to study at night? Where have we hidden the science book and what is the number of chocolates we have swallowed last month…? And so on…
She is past 43. Her hair barely reaches below her shoulders. Before special occasions, she is fretting over white hair above the ears. Stressful days bring so many fine lines around her eyes. Some people who last saw her during her wedding may not even recognize. But before this, there were many years when my mother was a young woman. She could carry us both on her back at the same time. When we were learning to ride the bicycle, she helped us get back to our feet when we fell down. She disinfected the cuts while we whined like dogs –“Sell the cycle! We cannot learn it.” Finally she scolded us, and badly. Afterwards, I remember her teaching me to dance and preparing me for my performances and for other parties. I was never keen on observing her make up. I had not learnt anything. So I sat and kept throwing small tantrums while she threaded my eyebrows and applied blush and eye-liner.
People now say I am as tall as my mother. But at heart, I am still a little girl, who wants her to just sit down by me during illness and to massage my head. I just want to feel her hands. She knows it. These are times, I am a little ashamed of myself. My mother does not get a single day off to even fall sick. Why should I keep to bed and be taken care of by her? And then… a love, an inexpressible love for her, gushes through my heart. The day she, like all other mothers –as she once put it- endured so much pain to bring me to the world and perhaps during the nine months of that pregnancy, she learnt the art to read my thoughts, to feel my pain, all through my life.
Love you mamma. Happy Mother’s Day!
Author Bio : Ananya Aloke, from Mumbai.