Sunday, May 11, 2008

Everyday is Mother's Day

Greeting card manufacturers, gift franchises, flower shops are all gung-ho again today. Another day where people are forced to buy cards, mugs for the World's greatest mom, and roses just so that they aren't left out. Popular restaurants and getaways will also be on family radars for sons and daughters today. Conveniently placed on a Sunday, Mother's Day is here again. One chance for a Mom to feel special; One chance for the offspring to show they care - no one is missing out.

I have never believed in such occasions. You don't need one day every year to show someone you love them. Leaving it to the one day to do something special is deplorable, and judging someone on their actions on this day is even worse. But, I now realise, that in the race of life, which all of us know underneath is pointless, and the pursuit of something we crave for and will most likely never get, we tend to forget the basic foundations our lives were built on. These days atleast bring us back to them, if only once a year. Today then, is Mother's day.

Mom and her Fan club

All my closest friends, who spent hours at my home watching cricket or playing games in the searing heat of summer or the merciless showers of the monsoon, are big fans of my mum. They'd all call her Aunty and I never saw a shadow of disrespect or any other negative vibes from them for her ever. And why not; mom always looked after them as if they were her own. We would all get hot tea and pakoras in the rain, and cold fresh juices in summer. So often, they would stay back for lunch or dinner even though there was a meal waiting back home. I would feel jealous at times at the attention they got!

Even the grown-ups weren't far behind in reverence, even though they are so much more absorbed in egos and jealousy and all that kids only grow up to learn. The "aunties" were always coming to her with anything - be it some problem in the family (which I could make out due to the sudden hushing of tones), or need for a recipe to please the in-laws, or even sharing gossip (again identified by hushed tones interspersed with loud, obnoxious laughter!). The "uncles" knew that she was very aware of political happenings at dad's workplace and also current news affairs from the papers, and a chat at the front door while mom waited for dad to come home while they waited for the elevator to descend, was always a welcome respite.

The ultimate sponge

I have never known anyone in my few years on earth who has absorbed and learnt so much in her life. She can put up with anything and picks up on even every little thing she can. In the kitchen, where she spends hours everyday making feasts for us, she is 'The Queen'. In her miniature pint-sized kitchens, she cooks up meals I have never managed to get anywhere else. Mughlai, Chettinad, Udipi, Mexican, Sri Lankan, Chinese, Italian - are just a few of the cuisines she has tried, with loads of success.

For years, she was shy of the computer. No, wait; the word is scared. She imagined she would hit a button and it would blow up in smoke! But, when I left home to arrive in Strangeland, mom reached out to the computer to connect back with her son. Starting with emails with punctuation sprayed all over, but well-guided by my brother, she now logs on every morning and has a long chat with me and other relatives she meets online. It's easy to forget, she was born and educated in an age where a computer was a machine that filled a whole room, while I place one on my lap everyday.

Politics, global happenings, astronomy, gastronomy, religion, spirituality, health, economics, languages, are topics she delves into everyday, and she picks up on them whenever she can spare the time from her chores. If you want an opinion, rest assured Mom always has one.

I don't know anyone else who can speak as many languages as her. Gujarati with the Gujju, Marathi with the Marathi, Telugu with the Andhraite, Tamizh with the Tamizhilian. English, Tulu, Kannada, Hindi are other languages she is fluent at, while with Bengali and Malayalam she can fool one to believe she actually does speak them fluently.

Everything I Am

I have learnt to face problems, stand strong, be truthful and honest, hard-working and loyal, from my parents. Whether I am really good at applying everything I have learnt is not for me to judge. Mom has especially taught me compassion and respectfulness, and to never think oneself weak. She may not think much of her achievements in life, but she has no idea how much I have picked up from the way she has fought for everything she believed in. Being a woman in India, especially back then, and living in a patriarchal society, and still doing whatever she has, is no mean feat.

I pity those other kids who do not get attention from their mothers, who are busy in their alternate lives. My throat swells up with fear when I imagine myself in that place. I have always had mom around, and even though it may not be obvious to her, it has always been great to have her around. All my problems would disappear in an instant. They only started stacking up when I grew up and hardly reached out to her. But when I returned, I saw a different side of my mom. I had grown up to be over 20, but she had adapted herself to be a companion to a 20 year old too. Now, how many moms can do that?

She has in fact set such high standards of parenting and caring, that I fear I will absolutely never be able to live up to that, whenever my turn comes. Selflessness and sacrifice are two words I am yet to learn. Hopefully, I will learn that from her too.

Everyday I live, it is Mother's Day and Father's Day, for without them, there is no me.