The mother in us

We take a lot of things for granted, and when we do, we end up undervaluing them. Our mother’s love and attention for example. We figure it’s a given that she will take time off from work and be there in audience on an important school event. We figure it’s a given that she will set aside all her other issues and focus entirely on us all through, that she will click our pictures and laugh and congratulate us and hug us and generally have nothing else on her mind but us. We are supposed to be everything to her, after all.

We so easily forget that we aren’t everything to her. That we are only one part of her life, that she has other missions and griefs and things to do and people to think of and tasks on her to-do list. We forget she is a human who has been or is going through her own set of challenges — maybe she is the mother who lost her newborn during the Partition because her breastmilk dried up amid a burning neighbourhood in Lahore, and the baby starved to death, and there was no one to cremate the tiny corpse so it had to be swaddled and set afloat on a nearby stream, and the mother never really recovered from the trauma and it became a part of the great big tub of sorrow that accompanied her on school trips with her other four children forever after that.

Maybe the mother was one of those four children who — never intimate with her own mother — also lost her father just when she needed him most, and then brought up her own daughter with the conservative urban Indian’s passionate possessiveness, outwardly disallowing the child everyday liberties but subconsciously urging her to break free from the very boundaries she was moulding her to fit into. So that the girl, like a cow’s calf, grew up fearful, gentle and completely unfit for a ruthless world but then later — when the ruthless world had backed her up into a corner of do-or-die — broke out like a roaring lioness and refused to be enslaved ever again. And the mother cried — in sorrow that her daughter was now a misfit and in joy that she was free.

Maybe the mother was that born-again lioness who then voluntarily took on the burden of mothering the whole world so that she could pass on her knowledge but ended up being unavailable to her own girl child’s several needs, so that the girl hated her own mother with all the love of a longing heart and blamed her for everything that went wrong in her own life, because mothers, after all, are supposed to have nothing else on their minds but their children. They’re not supposed to be women too.

And so the circle of life goes on, and we take our mothers for granted, while they celebrate our birth, grieve about losing us long before we lose them, think of us even when they are not thinking of us, laugh when we thrive, and cry when we hurt. And in taking them for granted, we undervalue their contribution to the heart that pumps blood through our veins, to the flesh that we inhabit, to the eyes that look back at us in the mirror.

Every day is mother’s day because the mother is us.


3 thoughts on “The mother in us

  1. Well, in so many ways I agree and in so many ways, I don’t want to be the ‘mother’ we see every day, but find a new mother, defined by my own rules. A beautiful write Aekta – is it you, the mother or the child speaking, here?


  2. beautiful. it is only after having my own kids that i truly appreciated my parents, mom especially. earlier, she was simply ‘mom’. now, i see her with a mother’s eyes, and also as a woman, who has so many other needs and facets. a big hurrah for all moms, everywhere 🙂


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