As a little child, I remember memorising and reciting a song in school that serenaded teachers on Teacher's Day. But since I was the teacher's pet, she let me in on her big secret: the song was originally written for mothers and she had conveniently replaced the word 'mother' with 'teacher' throughout the song. And I wondered to myself how changing the very subject of the ode still hadn't caused any change in the context or meaning of the song. That was the first time the uncanny resemblance between a mother and a teacher dawned upon me. Over the years I came to realize how my mother was indeed my first teacher. She taught me how to write, all alphabets aligned according to their heights, nothing over or under the designated lines. She taught me how to behave around boys and how to handle relationships and heartbreak. She taught me to be kind, charitable, strong-willed yet adaptable. And to this day my mom remains the best teacher I ever had.
Mothers, I tell you, they are funny people. They can cry at the slightest provocation (at least mine can) and yet can bear the greatest physical and mental pains for their children. I always knew my mother was an expert at everything. I have encountered experts in many fields, and many other mothers who are experts in their own right too. But for me, my mother was my very first expert in life. The more I write about my mom, the more I realize she's a great blessing in disguise. Why in disguise, you might wonder? That's because we don't see eye to eye on anything, and in fact keep arguing all the time. :D But that doesn't in any way affect my gratitude to her or my immense respect for everything my mom stands for. Mom and I love each other in ways that may seem unfathomable to some, but come naturally to both of us.
I am the second-born of two daughters. A few days after I was born, my mother's best friend's mother (sounds complex, but really isn't) paid her a visit. With a sombre face she told my mother how sorry she was that mom had had another daughter. My mother, blunt that she always was, clearly told her that she needn't be sorry, because my mom was extremely happy to have borne a daughter and not a son. Two daughters was the dream, and a son had never been a part of that dream. My parents both worked for a living and had to slog a little extra to take care of us. But never once did we ever feel that we lacked a thing, be it love and care or material things. My dada-dadi weren't of much help during our growing-up years. When I was too young to go to school, I had to be put in a creche because dadi wouldn't babysit me. When I grew up and began school, my mom would wake up early to prepare breakfast, lunch as well as our tiffins. My father was a huge rock for her. He'd brush our teeth, braid our hair, dress us up for school and drop us at our bus stops. Then my parents would go to their respective offices. The value of equality in domestic duties and the concept of shared workload are deeply ingrained in me thanks to my parents' wonderful efforts at it.
I was the second child but somehow always commanded more affection than my elder sister. I have always been a love-hungry child. I still am, though I won't admit it too often. My mom fondly recounts how I'd sit in her lap even after I had grown too big to fit in there! I was also often fed by hand when I was too lazy to eat on my own. (I don't think it was about laziness though. I always loved being fed, it is such an intimate way of showing love!) My bua and other relatives would reprimand my mom for indulging me thus. But mom never paid heed. I was her beloved and try as she might, she could never deny such little pleasures to me. Looking back, I realize what a happy childhood I had. Not a single picture has me sporting anything but a toothy grin. I was a happy child, and my mom and dad both had a lot to do with it.
My mom was always a fashion icon for me and the entire family on both sides. Even to this day whoever sees our childhood pictures comments on how graceful and elegant she always looked. Her collections of trinkets and big earrings from old times are still preserved with us and we fight with each other to wear them; they are so timeless yet chic!
My mom has always been a fitness and sports freak. There is hardly a sport that I haven't seen her play and excel at. Badminton, Table Tennis, Carrom, Javelin and Discus throws, all kinds of races, Aerobics - my mother is a sports star at her workplace. The house is so full of trophies that we readily give them out to whoever happens to fancy one or more of them. We could certainly do with less of them! I haven't been in my best shape for the last 2 years (round is a shape too, or so I hear) and she keeps pestering me to do something about it. Sometimes I like being inspired thus, and sometimes we lock horns on the matter. But her level of fitness to this day, at over 51 years of age, is something that inspires me greatly.
|This photo has been on my laptop's desktop for as long as I can remember. It is just so beautiful. Isn't mom the picture of grace and beauty? I look cute too. :p and of course, my sweet, sweet sister who looks like a boy. Always.|
|Riding a pony on the streets of Mussourie. My childhood years were spent travelling to the best of places, and I owe my parents big time for those beautiful memories.|
My mom liked to travel and luckily so did my dad. No wonder my childhood was a long series of road trips and weekend holidays. Mussourie, Nainital, Shimla, Dehradun, Ambala, Srinagar, Chandigarh, Jaipur...I can't even list out all the places we visited while my sister and I were children. Most of the tours came along because of my mom's sports and cultural tournaments. She's in a central government office and is very passionate about all extra-curricular activities. At least two trips every year were made because she had her nationals competitions in a new location every time. Of course we absolutely loved it! Come to think of it, my wanderlust is a direct outcome of all those trips from my growing up years. And I cannot thank mom enough for it. Really, nothing can measure up to the beautiful memories I hold from all those family trips, just the four of us, to places I couldn't ever have imagined I'd get to visit. The parents of most of my friends and cousins never took them out much. I am a lucky kid to have such amazing parents who instilled the love for travel in me.
There are just so many more things that my mom is good at. But the best is probably advice. I think that's where I get my philosophical streak from too. We both tend to act as agony aunts and advisers to people. We both have such a strong outlook at everything in life. No wonder we're at loggerheads so very often! But I owe my strong personality entirely to her. My dad is fun-loving, happy-go-lucky, even docile to an extent. My mom's the fiery comet, the one who won't take kindly to inefficiency or stupidity. She's the one who likes to do all things perfectly, and would make you do them her way too, if she could. She's had the greatest impact on my life, my attitude and my personality during my later formative years. It is a famous proverb on my mom's side of the family that if a kid turns out rebellious or naughty, that kid's definitely taken after my mom. I guess it holds true for me. Like mom, like daughter.
Mom and I share a one-of-a-kind relationship. She isn't like the other moms, fussing over me about food or clothing. She never forced me to eat an extra parantha or wear an extra piece of clothing in the cold. She never ran after me every time I fell down or hurt myself. For sometime she tried dictating how and when I studied or did my homework, but she quickly realized I wasn't like other kids. So she gave up, and we've had our very own special arrangement ever since. She doesn't ask me to study, and in turn I don't give her a reason to complain when the results come out. People would rebuke her for not giving enough attention to my studies, especially when the boards were around, because she wouldn't take leave and sit at home to monitor me like other moms. But we proved everyone wrong when the results were declared. It was always like that with her and I. We've always adjusted to each other's ways through trial and error, finding a mutual comfort level along the way. We were never the conventional mother-daughter duo, we never will be. But we're us, and we're the best thing there ever can be.
Happy Mother's Day mom.
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This is #MyFirstExpert story for the Mother's Day contest by Godrej Expert.