“Amma what have you done? Its a stretchable swimsuit. Why did you put it in the washing machine? It is ruined.”
“Chill mom. I am wearing my jeans to the temple. Its all in the mind. I have that understanding with god”
“Why do you keep organizing my table. I can never find a single stuff this way. Its so easy to locate in the clutter.”
“Puhleeez dont ask me to come for that marriage. I don’t know a single soul out there.”
“C’mon momsy its just 6am and its a Sunday. Let me sleep yaar”
“It is so difficult to explain my point to you mamma. Generation Gap!”
It was 1993 when I was 18 and these were typically my everyday conversations with ‘my punchbag’-My Mother. The earliest memories of her is a cherubic woman clad in 6 yards of cotton with a big vermillion on her forehead. Not to be missed the kohl in the eyes and the sweet smelling floral strand of Jasmine on her hair, which was perched from our own backyard and woven together by her fingers. She would get up as early as 3.30 in the morning, sip her cuppa leisurely after brushing her teeth in our bedroom, dimly lit with the light coming in from the kitchen. After having her ‘poison’ she would move like a whirlwind. Pick up a bucket to wash the outside entrance and sweeping it dry before putting a huge rice flour ‘kolam’, take her bath and light up the ‘vilakku’ (lamp). We were supposed to keep away from her till we had our bath. Only after the lamp was lit that she would start her cooking. Within no time ‘Koyambu’, ‘Rasam’, Curry, Rice, Chapattis, idli, chutney and salads would be ready and transferred into casseroles and arranged on the dining table. She would quickly change into a neatly ironed saree and get ready for work. She would then mount her bicycle in that saree and pedal on for her office. After a long day’s work she would come back, bring in clothes from the backyard, iron and fold them and after serving us snacks like upma, poha, bread pakora, bonda, murukku, thengoyal, adai, dosai, and what not (all prepared by her), she would sieve wheat and take it to the ‘ata chakki'(flour mill). In the meanwhile she would go and fetch vegetables and grocery and on the way back, pick up the wheat flour from the mill. After cooking dinner she would just …. crash!!!
My contribution to her busy life was to consume the food that she cooked, wear the clothes she had neatly put in the cupboard, snuggle up in the bed she would meticulously arrange and of course make a big fuss about any little help she would require from me.
I would bring workload home and immerse myself in it and she would keep serving me with milk, breakfast, snacks and dinner and see to it that I am undisturbed in my quest to excel. On job, as a consultant, I interacted with thousands of people and I always thought what would she understand about the complicated life and people around, the work pressures, targets, deadlines etc. When I would err she would try to explain, and if I did not understand she would leave me on my own to learn from my mistakes. Like she would always say “Both fools and wise men learn. The only difference is that fools learn by making mistakes and wise men by observing the fools.” Mostly I would trash her suggestions and do my own thing.
It is 2011 and I am…well, I still feel 18. I juggle work and a family. I am 100% hands-on with my 3 lovely daughters and I think I am doing a good job. And now, after getting into the grind for myself, I value her more. She is the mother of the tallest order for me. I am what I am because of her. She stood by me in the thick and thin like a friend, she protected me like a fierce mother tigress in the hours of despair, willingly supported me for anything I wanted to explore be it music, dance, sports, arts or education. I may never be 100% of what she has been to us but I am trying to be as close as possible. If you ask my girls, they would say:
“Amma knows a lot of stuff but doesn’t understand that I do not like porridge and she doesn’t like cornflakes and insists that we all have little of everything ”
“Ma doesn’t let us go out in the afternoon. Its summer vacations ma”
“Why do we study in vacations every morning”
“NO TV too. So boring”
“Ok, can we play on the computer instead?”
“Our friends come down to play at 8 in the evening and it is our dinner time. Why ma?”
Phew! they too will soon understand why.
HAPPY MOTHER’S DAY AMMA!!!