Dear than dearest Ma,
My friends think I am slowly turning out to be like you. I don’t know what makes them say that because in many more ways than one, we are a whole lot different.
You, for once, ask too many questions and dole out uncalled for advice. I still don’t know how and where to exercise such authority without appearing bossy or seeming meddlesome. You also have a great threshold for life’s knee-jerking surprises – little wonder you don’t grumble or whine – while I make a relentless effort to show my disdain for everything that doesn’t make me happy. It’s also amazing how you get us to act without having to scream your lungs out. I, on the other hand, take from dad and assume that raising my decibel levels can sort half of the world’s problems, including my own. Then there is the surplus amount of sugar you fuel into your tea, when my coffee is generally bitter and I know how much you detest that.
Obviously, our differences are not as distinct as pepper and salt; yet, when they surface now and then, we cannot ignore the friction it causes.
But the other day, I made chicken curry for dinner and your son (and my brother) said my food reminded him of mummy. I was pleased, just like I was when my friends told me that they thought I was becoming you. It honestly, felt like a job well-done.
Come to think of it, it’s actually very strange because I have been quite vociferous about hating the things that don’t appeal to you – like hanging out until late into the night; going for overnight picnics/treks or not staying at home enough.
If my friends asked me why I couldn’t join them, I would not mince words when blaming “my strict mother” for it. I even tried lying to you once, and it made me feel guilty for the rest of the year, so I quit that option.
Then there were the millions of questions you asked me about the things I did or the friends I hung out with, and your blunt opinions about some of them.
Of course, you keeping such a tight leash on my life, made me angry.
What I forgot, however, was to be grateful. Grateful to see your face when I woke up each morning or grateful when you made me my coffee, just how I liked it.
When the people who I most sincerely trusted hurt me, you became my sounding board. You listened to me patiently, saying nothing more than what I needed to hear. It’s uncanny how you know my secrets, without me ever having to share them with you; it’s also strange how you can sense am low by just listening to my voice or seeing my face. Again, I had forgotten, how to be grateful. Because, even if I was, I never told you how fortunate I was to have you in my life or did not once remind myself that this is the mother I would like to be someday.
Surprisingly enough, you’ve never expected gratitude. You keep indulging me, even when you know that I forget to thank you for your goodness. You also reprimand me when needed, though it never goes down well with me. You take the brickbats in your stride, and you continue, just like a mother would – just like only you could.
The good thing is that living away from you for the last year and more, has only made me see my life with the clarity that you expected me to have – all along. Now, though am beyond your scrutiny, my every move continues to be guided by you in absurd ways. When I cook something nice, I hopelessly wonder what you would have to say about it. If am out too late, I keep looking at my watch, worrying whether you would have appreciated it. If I buy something too expensive, I try to figure out ways to let you know that I have over-spent. It’s stupid, because these are things where I enjoy little interference. But am always searching for your approval, even if I don’t tell you so.
Your morals and values have filtered down and found a narrow and winding path into my life. Your views, sometimes judgmental but mostly honest, have also begun to rhyme with mine.
I think sometimes about how my life would have been, hadn’t you helped me shape it. You convinced this reluctant girl to take up music and learn to play the keyboards, when she had zero talent for it. You motivated her to pursue a career in journalism, when she wasn’t quite sure about it herself. You encouraged her to be stubborn and multi-task to accomplish the million-odd dreams she had lined up for herself. You did not stop her, when she decided to leave home for a while, even though it made you sick to the pit. You allowed her to be her own person and taught her to be you.
When I see myself now, I cannot ignore the faint reflection I see of you in there. I have become you as much as I never thought I would. And we don’t need mirrors to prove that.
Yes, I do have failings. I am lazy, self-deprecating and downright cynical; but all these failings are my own, which you have unfalteringly tried to repair. But take comfort. If we have to go with what my friends and family claim, you are succeeding, slowly and steadily – molding one of your own, in your likeness.
All through these years of growing up, I was probably idolising you without even realising, and was secretly hoping that someone would spell this out for me, without me having to do so. Thank God for the people who keep reminding me that I haven’t strayed, and that I am still the daughter, you wanted me to be.
Happy Mother’s Day Ma! Happy Mother’s Day to all the mothers who sail through the rough seas and yet manage to brave it to the shore, just to protect, love and guide us.