Amma, my mom.Sunday, May 08, 2016
It is Mother's day. And now is as good a time as any to make this post. For the past couple of years I have wanted to write this post and have always chickened out. This post is about my mom, and about acknowledging her in my life. Saroja Nair (my mom) and I have always been thick. I don't remember referring to the dictionary till I was in the 7th or 8th, because I was always walking around her asking her what this or that meant. My study table was in the kitchen, she cooked and answered my endless questions. She was my friend, my confidant, she heard about all my crushes (no she was not spared) and she heard my many many loud opinions when I was a kid. I think now in retrospect that if she did not let me express every thought that passed through my head without judging it and reprimanding me, I would perhaps not have grown up to be a person who knows her mind and someone who has the courage to be honest to herself.
I remember when I was in the 4th or 5th, Amma had told me to read an article in the paper and I was so impressed by it that I had immediately sat down to write my own article heavily "inspired" and peppered by phrases from the piece I had just read, she read it and simply said, "You can use language to express yourself, but it is "yourself" you have to express, these are not your words. how would you write what you feel in your own words?" I got my 1st lesson about being myself and being original from her.
Mom and I were also great partners in stitching my clothes, and it was always a collaborative process. She included me and took onboard all my suggestions/demands and we both together figured if it was working. Unconsciously these sessions shaped my perception of creativity being a collaborative process. Till date she stitches all her clothes herself, and she is 70. She also still stitches a few of my more offbeat clothes.
The things that top the list that I admire about my mother are: Acceptance. Actually acceptance with grace. She simply accepted the fact that her marriage was not working, and what I mean by gracefully accepted was that I have no childhood memories of her badmouthing my father. That this was so beautifully unusual was something I realised only when I grew a lot older. My mother and her brothers brought up my sister and me. She worked as a teacher through my schooling years. She has accepted my life choices without batting an eye lid and I can see she is truly peaceful with it all. Whether it was my choosing art as a career, my choosing not to marry or whether it was quitting my corporate career to be on my own, she never once worried. I have always felt her peace. Maybe she is coming out sounding like a paragon of virtue :) she is :) and we do have serious differences of opinion and she voices hers very firmly. But she is also willing to listen, truly listen, which is so rare.
This was clicked at Sabarmati Ashram, Ahmedabad. One of her favourite places.The other thing that floors me about her is her love for nature. She has been born and brought up in Bombay but her childhood vacation experiences of her home in Kerala with cows and many many trees are held close to her heart. We have plants at home. She waters them after her bath, before she will put a drop of water to her own mouth. She wakes up by 5.30 and goes about her plant and puja routine before she enters the kitchen. And no plucking curry leaves after sundown, because she told me - would you like it if someone pinched you after your bed time? Point.
With Abhiram, my sister's son
She has been amazingly open minded and has always come with me to many film festivals, most of my friends are also her friends and they have independent conversations with her. Whether or not I am home, they come over, stay, they call her up. And yes, almost everyone calls her up for her home remedies. What I have never said here on the blog is that we come from an Ayurvedic family. My Grandfather was an Ayurvedic physician, 2 of my maternal uncles, one aunt and my sister, my cousin are all ayurvedic physicians. So my mother is a repository of practical information about how to heal yourself without going to the doctor. Especially children. She has even authored a small book "Remedies and Recipes" which I insisted she write. Mainly because I have not inherited from her, her amazing culinary talent and also because I wanted all that information she carries recorded some place. We ran 2 print runs and currently we are out of stock on the book. But my friends are asking for more, we will soon print more copies.
My point of saying all of this is because I owe every good thing in me to her. She is where I come from. And she is who stands by me like a rock. I can go on and on about her. But I will stop.
As I grow older I finally see how much of me is like her, though outwardly we are very different. If I even become half of what she is I will consider it a great achievement. Writing this post was important to me because every good thing in our life needs acknowledgement and celebration. I know one day in a year as 'Mother's day' is a crazy concept when everyday is actually mother's day. if any of you want to write in the comments section about your mothers, I'd be happy to hear. Not because its mother day, but because writing about the love of our life is a natural joy and privilege.