When I was in school I read a story of the most beautiful woman. This is what I remember – A little girl was lost and crying uncontrollably. The villagers asked the sobbing child to describe her mother.She could only say she is the most beautiful one. The villagers pointed one beautiful woman after another but none of them were her mother. Finally, a one eyed, tired looking woman comes running and hugs her lost child. The child, at last relieved, hugs her mother, then turns to the villagers and says, “See! This is my mother, the most beautiful woman”. The villagers smile and nod in agreement.
I loved the story even then because it seemed to capture what I felt for my mother. My mother the most beautiful one – as it is true for all our mothers.
I do not remember all the sacrifices the tears the sweat my mother put into raising us, but today as I watch my little boys and wrestle sometimes with the sea of emotion I feel looking at them, I understand what it might have been like for you. I got into the practice when I was really nervous, for example before school exams, to ask my mother. “Mother, whatever happens will you still love me?” And you would say “Yes”. I would then peacefully finish my exams. Mother, you are the security I feel in my being.
Once, I was a little sick but still had to go to school. I sat in class, morose, feeling sorry for myself. Then the teacher announced at lunch time that my parents had come to see me. I was overjoyed. They didn’t let me go home but I got to eat the lunch my mother brought. I still remember the tiffin box and what you had cooked and packed – I think I can even smell and taste the raw banana sambhar you had made. I went back after lunch no longer feeling sick but with a skip in my step. Mother, you are the joy in my heart.
With two kids and a house to take care for you were forever busy. But for our birthdays and festivals you made sure we had the fanciest and prettiest of dresses that you yourself designed and stitched – sometimes through sleepless nights. I remember them fondly. The pink one with the beautiful bow, white and red with iron press, balloon skirt, the madras cotton salwars. You always made sure we were well dressed. Mother, you are the pride in my step.
While we were in a school-bus once a lady angry about something hurled a few unkind words at us. You gracefully refused to be pulled into anything ugly. You played the unpleasantness down and asked me to think from her perspective. You were friendly to her later and encouraged us to be too. Mother, you are my sense of equilibrium.
With every moment, action and thought you shaped me, made me. Today, I see my children and am filled with love and joy. I laugh at their antics revel in their innocence, agitate sometimes if I am doing things right. Mother, I hope you are in me.