Every Sunday i call my mum in india to say hi and to just check on her in general. My mother and i’ve have always had this fragile relationship, built in misunderstandings, and nurtured on distance and not able to bridge the generation gap on both sides. When i was young, i was scared of her as she embodied the image of a punisher & she was more of a teacher to me than a mother. She had to i guess, as my dad always was away on work, she worked as a teacher & had to deal with three kids. For a long time, i didn’t see her as a human being but always as this abstract version of an authority figure called mum. It’s true that she has her flaws but so does everyone else.
She’s gone through so much in her life. She asserted herself by working as a school teacher even when she was told by the family to stay home and take care of children. I have fond memories of going to school with her and my Alsatian dog Julie. She put herself through college just so she would have a degree. She’s one of the strongest people that i know. I always admired her strength and she is one of my first role model even though i would get lost to try and explain how complex my love is for her. But no matter how hard i fought to believe that i love her, no matter how often she has made me cry, i still love her, especially now more than ever. She’s my mother and she’s only human and she loves me even though I have never been the easiest person to put up with, what with my feminist notions & being very opinionated. When i was sixteen our relationship became strained as i thought she didn’t stand up to her husband, well my dad, on my behalf. This is where i have difficulty & my confusion with her. Me being a feminist has its beginning with my mum & i guess she pushed the boundaries of a woman’s role in society, farther than may be other women of her generation. My mother was a pioneer in this matter getting a BA & working to be independent.
Growing up in india is a battle in itself. I’ve to scream to be heard. I shouldn’t complain a lot though, as my parents let me do pretty much anything i wanted. They let me go to school to finish my degrees & when i told them i would like to go to US for further studies they meekly asked me to get married & go but when i told them no, they obliged. They were afraid of the society & what it would say about a girl going off on her own but they let me. I thank God for their strength
My mother always has this grandiose idea that i’m some kind of a prophetess and that whatever comes out of my mouth has come true. She always told me that God worked through me and that i predicted the future and whatever i spoke out came true. I’m a bit skeptical about this, but she is right. But it could just be coincidence for i never think of myself as someone who would be chosen by God to be His spokesperson. That would be a philosophical thesis all in itself, so we will leave it there for the moment.
I thought i was always right and didn’t ever want to admit I was wrong. It was difficult for me to be there for her through my dad’s illness & death. Distance took a toll & what i was going through then took a toll. I tried to make her understand not sure if she did but i do hope she did. She definitely wasn’t’ there for me when i was going through the darkest time of my life. Bu as always, we resumed our relationship, and in the past few months, our relationship has strengthened slightly. I no longer hold any grudges, not only with her but with everyone. My heart doesn’t hurt to pick up the phone and call her.
It must be hard for her to lose her baby, to a foreign country, as young as I was then, and to watch me to grow up in news pieces by people who visited me, photo flashes, and in phone calls. I often tell her how strong she is & how independent she is. Children always ignore the advice their parents give and sometimes those prove useful.
I tried very hard to not grow into my parents but all the while i was being molded like them. I try to polish the bright features of their character reflecting in me & i try to transpose God’s character onto their not so admirable features, after all i’m my mum’s mirror image. I kept pulling away, pulling away and pulling away only to snap right back into her arms.
The only advice which I will ever give to myself is, cooperate without compromising & live with your heart, Shanthi !