Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Happy Birthday Chotu

This other day I woke up and looked around, very relaxed (a rarity for the hyper anxious me). I knew what I was looking for. I was looking for the prettiest face in the world. Dark hair pulled back in a low bun, a big red Bindi on her forehead, kajal in her eyes, smile on her face.

The first face you want to see when you wake up.

Mum would be around somewhere, doing something. The room would be spotlessly clean. I will call out and she will come.

I am vaguely aware that I am 6-7 years old and in Lucknow.

Only I am not.

I am in London and a lot older than 7. It takes me a few moments to orient myself and then I feel gobsmacked. Where did that come from? Almost as if something had taken me back into time for a few precious moments. Mum has short hair now. She rarely wears a saree and the big red bindi has given way to a smaller one.
I have not thought about our life from back then in years.

As the moment passes, I lay back and try to recall how relaxed I had been feeling a few minutes back. I had not felt that way in months. Maybe years.

Mum, my Mum. Even a flashback makes everything okay.



For most girls their mothers are the best.

Mine really is.

No, really, she is.


I have, over the last few years, mostly through conversation across continents, come to know her better than I did when I lived with her growing up in Lucknow. It is one of the benefits of growing up, you know, you get to know your parents as people. Not just as your bank or your cook or your chauffer or as the invisible hand that helps you out when you need some picking up. But as people with hopes and aspirations and fears and their own battles.

And what I have figured about my Mum is nothing short of extra ordinary.

She is an odd combination of contradictions.

She wont be able to say no to the help at home, yet she will find in herself, again and again, the strength to go against everyone in the room to stand for what is right and with those who need help. I have seen her take tough decisions that can only cause her trouble but might help people she loves. And honestly, i have rarely seen anyone else behave in as selfless a manner as she can.

If someone is upset, even though it is the other person's fault, she will try her best to make things okay. I tell her she needs to be strong. And then my father has an emergency brain surgery and she is the only one who has her wits about herself. And I wonder if I can ever be as strong as her.

She is not a manager in a fancy office, but she project manages complex situations at home better than most people I know would ever be able to. Daily wage workers who come to work at our house love her. One of them, many years ago, liked Mum so much that he decided (and we let him) to work for us. He was with us for a couple of years, went back to hi village and then came back. And then there was this one guy who took to calling her Mummy. I still cant help but smile at the memory.

She choses to not react when the easiest thing would be to kill the person in front of you. Yet when she loses her temper, God alone can help you.

I have seen, not once, not twice but hundreds of times, people come to her just to get good sensible advice. And now when someone asks me for advice there is only one question I ask myself ' What would Ma say?'

She is the strongest person I know. She is the gentlest person I know. She can be the clown that entertains and the wise sage that enlightens.

And boy, can she forgive. She forgives people for being petty, selfish and rude. For having made her life hell. For having denied her things she had a right to. ' They are just being ignorant' she says sagely to me on the phone while I grind my teeth and fanatsize about how I would have given that person a taste of his/her own medicine had I been there.

Sometimes when she is saying all those wise things, things that are so wise that for some moments everything makes sense, I wish I can record them. Record them and keep them safe in a locker under the sea where no one can touch them. Just so that they will always stay with me. People often tell me that I say wise things. I am mostly just quoting my Mum.

I know my Mum is my mum, I also think, she is now her mother's Mum as well. And is mother-like for a few others too.

That I am sane is because of her. That I can be strong (Sometimes atleast) is because of her. That I am, is because of her.

Life has many challenges, but I move through it stronger and steadier simply because my Mum is my Mum.

You matter, Ma, matter so much. For some of us, you are, even now, the one person around whom the world revolves.

Happy birthday.

Your Luchita.


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In other news, my second book is about to be released. Pre-order your copy here.



 

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