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Sometimes with love, Sometimes with anger,
Sometimes with understanding, Sometimes with responsibility,
Sometimes with struggle, Sometimes with patience,
You’ve made me discover and learn
Your Expert Life’s Lessons.
My Beautiful Ma!
My Earliest Memory
It’s not a vivid memory for I must have been too young. I’ve heard dad saying that it was the month of November 1984 when heavy cyclones hit Madras. I remember Ma carrying me on her shoulders, managing to hold tight the umbrella and trying with great force to walk hurriedly against the winds, towards the school. There were helicopters roaming just above our heads, throwing down paper pamphlets. At the school, my sister was anxiously waiting, among five other neighbour children, for us to arrive. Without thinking Ma made all known faces get into an auto. We reached home after safely dropping each one at their homes.
Even now, when I hear the sound of the helicopter, my memory rolls back to this day. However, instead of typhoonic memories, it has given me reminiscences of responsibility and care. And now as a mother, I certainly carry Ma’s value of looking after other children as my own children.
I am Three
Those were the first few days at my nursery school. While other children like me, joyfully rode the wooden horses and played over the slides, one boy always remained aloof and alone. He seemed different but I didn’t understand why he was different. I’ve seen parents warn their children not to play or talk with this boy. During our walk back home one day, I asked Ma about him. She said he’s God’s special child and advised me to get along with him as I would do with other kids.
In a few days, we became good friends. In fact, he was my first friend I can remember. In no time, other kids joined us. I remember the mother of the special boy had tears flowing down her eyes one day on seeing all ten of us including her son, play together. I couldn’t understand what was happening to her though she seemed happy about what she was seeing.
It’s sad that my first friend is no more today but Ma’s seeding of empathy and compassion for less fortunate people has certainly bloomed in me.
I am Six
Subha and I were playing on the street, as on every other evening. I used to be slightly more fond of her modern stuffed doll than my age-old wooden Radha doll and we often fought over her beautiful doll. That evening, at the end of the fight, I ran away home with her doll, leaving her crying on the road. Came Ma in anger screaming at me for what I had done. She spanked me quite heavily telling me repeatedly it is not right to rob others’ belongings.
I still feel the guilt of a petty theft I did as a child, but never after that was I attracted to others’ possessions. Though it was her hard way, it was the right way too.
I am Eleven
Our neighbour anna came running to inform us that our school has declared a holiday. Unable to contain our emotions, my sister and I threw away our lunch bags and started unwinding our shoe laces. Ma was a little disappointed about the packed lunch but she seemed excited too to have an unplanned day with us. That is the joy that slashing rains bring homes!
Ma made cozy tents with the sarees that were hung over the ropes in the room for drying. She gave us small kitchen ware to build our home out of the tents. She then accompanied us inside our little homes telling us stories of snowy places, to snuggle our imaginations, and pretended to enjoy the play with us.
Even today, rains and especially drying clothes inside the room takes me back to those childhood memories. It is one of my early recollections of finding joy in small things. I often recapture this feeling of silly merriment and some of my acts reflect it, in fact. Sometimes, I keep funny notes in H’s lunch box and sometimes stick a warm message to his razor .
Last year, when my nieces had come home for vacation, I made a tent for them with Ma’s saree. It was a melting feeling to see the little girls enjoy the play just like how we sisters did as children.
I am Seventeen
My final board exams were over. It was one of those happy days after having sweated a year-long. Ma and I were having our evening tea in our balcony. As always she wove an imaginary story; this time of me getting admission in a medical college; when she would come to visit me at the college, she would see me standing under a huge tree, chatting happily with a handsome boy named Aditya. We had a hearty laugh at her insane imaginations.
But there was a subtle openness that we shared that day. Ma knew the psychology of teen minds and often pulled our legs with some known guys, just as our friends would do. It was easy to share about my secret crushes to Ma anytime; easier than with my friends. As a matter of fact, it was simple for her to keep a track of what her teenage daughters were up to. Her good-humored coupled with transparent nature often reminds me how uncomplicated relationships can be when there’s nothing to hide between one another.
I am Twenty Four
I am earning now. It was an exhilarating feeling to buy a birthday cake for Ma with my own money. Birthdays were not celebrated during her growing up years as we do now. It was a small surprise that year on her birthday and I preserve it as a proud memory.
Ma and I often shopped during the weekends. She let me buy every dress, shoe and earring that I liked at Commercial street. When soon I got bored with such shopping, it was then that she guided me to save my earnings. When I look back, I appreciate that she did not arrest my cravings for little things straight away soon after I began earning. She understood the needs of a working girl. And at the right time, she rightly instilled the need for savings in me. The contentment I enjoy today as well as all that I have saved today, I owe to her intelligence.
I am Twenty Seven
It was the most difficult phase. Arranging arranged marriages is difficult, especially for parents. I was adamant with my list of expectations of my groom. For her age and experience, she knew what marriages were all about. But it was hard for her to make a girl of 27 to realize it.
One day when I returned home from office, Ma seemed to be excited about a new proposal. However, for some reason I didn’t feel convinced about it, as always. We had arguments followed by a shouting session but at the end, she left to my choice, as always.
It was one of those times that I realized my responsibility towards my choices and my future. That’s exactly Ma often underlined. I am happy that she wasn’t a kind of parent who wanted her children to be puppets of her dreams and desires. And that’s a strong value I’ve imbibed; never to stay a puppet in the hands of anything – be it a person or situation or destiny.
I am Thirty
I am a mother now; quite calm and content about almost everything around me. Motherhood proved the best phase among all to cherish my bond with Ma. And my saga of motherhood couldn’t have been joyous without her. I spent half of my pregnancy with Ma. It was a time when both had missed each other for a while after my marriage. Our reunion and the joy of the new arrival made us an inch more closer.
I vividly remember a day when we recollected our bygone eras and reflected on the philosophies that each experience taught us, both individually and to us as a family. We often learnt and grew mutually over our quiet personal chats.
Thus, a few of the valuable lessons I’ve learnt from Ma! Just a few because a blog post can hold only this much!
Counting Years & Memories……
I shall hold this write-up very close to my heart for its inscription of Ma’s touch in it!
Thanks To Godrej; you have made several floods of memories to pour open through our words!