message from a mother

It was mother's day on Sunday in the anglo saxon world, it will be mother's day in France on May 28th. I wonder why we need a special day to honour mothers, I remember mine everyday though she left this world 20 years ago. She made me who I am today. Not only did she gift me life but nurtured it carefully and lovingly at every step. She taught me every little thing needed to bloom and grow. She healed each little scratch and hurt and ensured that the scars would vanish too. She assuaged every blow that came my way and soothed the pain till it disappeared.

Though she smothered me with love, she also made sure I learn all the lessons needed. She could be firm and even merciless when need be. I remember one such incident. I must have been about 6 or 7. I had developed the bad habit of piling my plate with food and then leaving half of it. Mama had grown up in want and could not bear food being wasted. She first tried to reason with me but when it did not work she knew she had to pull out the big guns. One day after I had once again left lots of food in my plate she instructed the staff to put the plate in the refrigerator. It was to be given to me at the next meal cold and congealed. Stubborn as I was I refused to eat it. She did not relent. I got nothing and the plate went back into the fridge awaiting the next meal. This game continued for 2 days, by the end of it I was so hungry that I devoured the plate as if it was manna from the Gods. It is a lesson I have never forgotten, and even know after five decades I never leave food in my plate. It is only much later that I came to know that my parents had not eaten during those two days. Made the
lesson even more precious and poignant.

Life carried on and so did the lessons, each as powerful and as valuable. And as I grew older from child to adolescent and then adult she was always there, allowing me to write and play my own script, but ever present like a prompter in the wings of the stage of my life, ready to intervene whenever I faltered. I carried on safe in the knowledge that she was there and nothing could befall me. But the Fates intervened and she left this world two decades ago. I was shattered.

I picked up the pieces of my life as best I could, memories of her helping me to carry on. I did not know that she would still stun me with her incredible and selfless love. Many years after her death I was trying to cope with many things and was deeply hurt and angry. As always at such times I resorted to some serious spring cleaning as this always calms me down. As I was clearing old boxes I discovered a yellowed diary. It was a diary my mother had written a few months before her death and was an account of her day to day life, of her thoughts, of her dilemmas and reminiscences. In hindsight it was also an example of the power of a mother's intuition as every entry seemed to echo some of my own angst and somehow heal it. Years before the idea of pwhy had even entered my head she had known what life held for me.

I reproduce the entry verbatim

I write this story for Anu to read.

There was a young beautiful girl; she got married and had children and spent all her time looking after her babies and her husband. Children were happy. The house was well run. Everything was almost picture perfect.

Then the children grew up. They did not need their mother. They resented her interference. Husband was busy in his work. The house ran beautifully. Time weighed heavy on her hands. She was miserable and tried joined a ladies’ club and playing cards. But it seemed too artificial. She was unhappy and her health started failing her. Something was amiss. She felt useless and unwanted.

One day an old school friend came to see her and she broke down and shared her despair. Her friend listened and promised to help.

A few days later she came and told her: I have a job for you, poorly paid but you will like it.

It was a job to teach poor kids. She began in earnest. The children were lovely, the called her maam and to her immediately.

Soon all her problems vanished: she was wanted, loved, respected and healed.

How had she known... I wonder but she did, almost to a T!

Shorty after writing these words she had a cerebral accident and was never the same again. This was her last coherent message to me. Every day as I walk into pwhy I am reminded of this. I do not need a mother's day to honour Kamala. I do it every day.