A Letter to My Mum on Mother’s Day
A Letter to My Mum on Mother’s Day
You see yourself on the mirror all the time. Have you ever wondered how others see you, beyond your hair and saree and maroon lipstick? Do you wonder how I, your impertinent, crazy, playful elder child, who always jokes and fights with you, see you?
I see you as a simple lady, always busy taking care of us, making sure we have food on our plate and everything else within our reach. But, I also remember you as someone more than this homemaker. You were once an extremely active, assertive, strong woman. I remember once when you burned your skin by accidentally pouring boiling water on your body, you went to the store and bought an ointment; then, after applying it on your body, you came to pick me and Bhai up from school. You went to see a doctor after that.
And yet, you are a total softie. A child inside. I can see that.
You often say that when a child grows up, he/she swaps the role and responsibility as a caregiver with the parent. I am not much of a caregiver, unlike you. You don’t listen to me, anyway. I wish that you did (not that I have the right to hope for it, considering I don’t listen to you.) When I went to pick some gym wear for myself from FBB, I bought you a set that you would like – with flowers and stuff. I was hoping that the new clothes, and the idea of wearing something picked up by your daughter, would lure the child in you to take the evening walks every day. And, I could see you were happy. But, you’re an obstinate child who loves daily soaps. You ignore your doctor who has been saying for years that you need daily evening walks.
One evening, I came home to see you in the bed, doing nothing but blinking. You probably don’t remember that. Two days later, I found myself suddenly wondering if you were alive in the hospital at that particular moment. You had been diagnosed with a massive tumor inside your heart, which had burst and caused you a cerebral attack. The doctors said they would need to wait for three days before they could cut that tumour out due to some complications. You probably didn’t know all that.
A month later, I came home to find Papa struggling to help you get out of bed.
You have come a long way since then. You make me forget how much you probably struggle because of the paralysis in the right side of your body. I know you’re conscious of the fact that you now walk slow, speak after thinking a lot, and can’t move your right hand. All I can do for your is to tell you that you don’t have any disability, that you are as healthy as anyone of us.
You do everything with your one good hand. I see that. I know you think I don’t.
I like that you smile and laugh a lot. Sometimes, you start to cry, or get angry; I know that it’s because the assertive, independent woman you used to be just fights to break out of the prison of your body sometimes. Your opinions are still in your head; they just get lost in your struggle to articulate them, and vanish in front of your argumentative child.
You will never be the same again. It’s time you accept that.
It’s been twelve years. I know you wish all this hadn’t happened. I know the time you want to go back to – a time when writing an essay on ‘My Mother’ was really easy. But, twelve years have come to pass. I have accepted this incident, and everything else that happened to me as a consequence of this. In fact, I accepted things the day you fell ill. I don’t think I ever sat and cried about it. Not enough to remember, at least. Honestly, I have accepted the new you so much that I have never treated you with special kindness or care. Perhaps, you would have liked to see a little more of my emotions for you.
I’m not the kind of person who openly displays what she feels for her mother. Then, what am I doing today? Conforming to social norms, I suppose. Yes, there are people who love to tell the world how much they love their moms and appreciate the presence of someone God-like in their lives. Especially on Mother’s Day. I have never been one of them. And, I’m writing about you because I know you won’t read my blog.
In the hindsight, you would probably love to see me showing off to the world that I love you, that I’m close to you, that you are my bestie. That’s where you and I are different. But, then again, that’s not the only place where we are different.
I have taken pride in not being soft and emotional like you. I have enjoyed being different. Somewhere down the line, being different from you became quite a compulsion for me. From what I wear to how I see things. Even when I wear your saree, I do it differently.
But, the fact remains that I still go to you first for the saree.
I remember how extremely excited and happy you were to see me in your saree. Is it because you see a glimpse of me in you? I wonder. You have never really dressed me up in your old clothes. That might be because of your family’s lack of prudence to save your old clothes. But, all I inherit from your old wardrobe is your collection of sarees in the last three decades. But, have you ever noticed how differently I wore the saree? You wore it with a red blouse, and went to play Sindoor Khela on a Dashami morning with your friends. You are so happy when you are with people that it shows even in the pictures.
Yet, I did things differently. I browsed through my wardrobe and pulled out a pair of pants that I had probably picked up at FBB several years ago, and wore the saree with it. Even when I was twinning with you, I couldn’t copy you.
Yet, you were so happy that I felt embarrassed.
You always embarrass me a lot by thinking that I look pretty, even when I step out in track pants, with my hair tied into a crude bun. How you always find me pretty, and feel a joy at everything I do in life, I’ll never know. That’s probably how you tell me that you love me. I see your love when you appreciate everything I do, and approve of all that I choose, from the clothes I wear to the person I want to send the rest of my life with. I see your love for all that I choose.
I have seen you make sacrifices. You have given up your everything for your family, for me. But, somewhere down the line, I have seen your regret. Let me tell you, Mum, that I have inherited your spirit to sacrifice. But I also know that I can give up everything, only I am sure that I want to do it. You gave up your studies, and all that you had, just for me. I would probably do the same for my loved ones, but I only when I am sure that because of that one step, I don’t want to live with the regret of losing my identity.
We don’t have twin souls or similar personalities. You are as unique in your ways as I am in mine.
But, you should remember that even though I don’t tell you, you are not just ordinary just because you are a stay-at-home mother. I hate people who routinely devalue the work of housewives, because I have seen you in that role, and I know what it takes to remain on duty 24×7. It was your choice to bring me up. Your family was your choice. Your identity is not lost. I saw the strength you showed when you gave up everything and made hard choices. I have seen the strength with which you held the family together. I see your strength every day in dealing with your changes.
We may not always see eye to eye, but I always see you and your strength. Every day.
HAPPY MOTHER’S DAY, MUM.