December 10, 2008

Story


She looks at me and knows that I have cried. While I sit at the dining table and have my fill of home-made food for the last time before leaving my home-town, without looking up at her for fear that even she would start crying, she quietly attends to me and fills my plate with more chakulis (like idiyappam, in Orissa). Later, she combs my hair and quietly tells me," You think I can’t know that you are crying? I know everything." I make a great effort to control myself, and I do. Then, I go to the bathroom and cry hoarse within myself, so that no one can hear my pain, my anguish. The helpless feeling lies in the fact that I know I don’t want to leave her above all, and all of my home’s comforts and get back to my independent-professional-self-cooking-self-caring life, faraway from home. Especially after having spent quite a while in the Heaven that is my Home, the period of stay stretched by a couple of days more, after having suffered a terrible lower-back pain and having been tended lovingly with all the care in the world by her, so that I had recovered by almost 50%. I cringe at the thought of her not being there to call me for having food, or for placing Horlicks by my side while I would be doing some work, or for having my medicine. The lump in my throat is so strong and tears so ready to flow, that I have no idea how to control myself. Actually, for her also, it is the same, but today she is strong. My Papa and I sit in the car, with our things loaded; before that, she puts a bit of Tulsi mud on my forehead. I am clouded by my misty eyes, and wave her goodbye through the haze.

Papa can see tears on the edge of my eyelids. Later, while we are in the train, she calls and talks to Papa. Then he says to me-"You did a great job of controlling your tears! Good that you didn’t let her know!" I say-"What I didn’t let her know. She knew it. She told me so". With a knowing expression, Papa beams and says-"OK. In that case, you both should have broken down. But then, do you know why she is so strong today?" I say- "Why?" And Papa says- "Coz she knows that I am here with you. She knows that I am strong, and will handle this situation well". Tears dancing on the edge of my eyelids roll down, giving me clearer vision. I smile. We talk for a lot more time, and then I climb up to my berth, to go to sleep.

Sleep is an angel. It brings the Angel- my Mother- in front of my eyes. She is the most beautiful and fair woman I know, in this world. Her photos, while she was in college, show her as being more beautiful than any heroine or model, ever, in this world. Why college? Throughout life, and even till-date, for her 53 years, she looks like the same angel that she has always been. When she got married and came to my Papa’s joint family, there would be a mad rush among relatives to see her beauty and taste food made by her. All my Papa’s cousins were younger, somewhere between 8 and 14-year-old, and they would compete for their new Bhauja’s (sister-in-law’s) attention! Papa and Mom then soon left for Bombay, as Papa’s job was over there. Soon, my sister and brother were born. My mother took full charge, tending to them, faraway from home. She had wanted to study medicine further, and was highly ambitious. Still, as marriage used to take place earlier in those times, my mother had to reconcile herself. From being an extremely loved daughter of her parents, to being the honourable daughter-in-law of one of the richest and celebrated families in Orissa, she carried the transition with grace. At Bombay, an alien, vast and fast city even in the 70’s, she adjusted in the way a fish takes to water. And then, tending to two young kids together in a flat, and that too with barely any domestic help for the kids, was a very difficult task indeed. Imagine a woman holding two kids at her two sides, and taking them to an almost empty Juhu beach of the late 70’s, and sitting on the sand there, while the Sun took its time to set. Meanwhile, Papa would return in the late evening from work and would baby-sit the children, when my mother would prepare dinner. And then, relatives used to keep coming in often, and they had to be taken care of, too. In this way, about six years at Bombay passed.
Later my family shifted back to Orissa, where I was born. My sister and brother went to school by bus, and their food had to be ready early in the morning. When they returned from school, my mother would have prepared hot and tasty dishes for them. I was a sickly child and kept ill most of the time, and sure gave my mother tough times (I still do!)! I remember how my mother used to bring hot food during our school lunch time. On some days, she did not get a rickshaw, and had to walk all of 3 or 4 kilometres in the scorching sun just so that I could have hot ghee, rice, dal and curry. When I’d be absent from school due to fever, my mother would go to school and note down all the classwork and homework. She shuttled between her in-laws’ place and Bhubaneswar, to successfully and dutifully complete pujas and rituals during various festivals and occasions of the year, even as she took care that children’s studies and food were not affected. She still does the same, as of this day and age, except that her children are away from her. To be self-reliant, my mother learnt to drive Fiat car, which we had at that time. I remember how one day in class two, after I had just recovered from fever, I kept clinging to my mother after the lunch break, and wouldn’t let her go. She went but I ran after her, sobbing helplessly and she had to take permission and get me back home. Work would keep Papa out of town for long periods. Still she would fight the survival battle and do grocery shopping, attend to children’s studies, cook for relatives coming in uninformed and multitask. Unfortunate circumstances had forced my Papa to take up franchise of Datapro Limited, a computer training organisation, which was again handled by my mother as its Director with aplomb, even till 1999, when it was finally sold. My Papa was a member of Rotary Club, and my mother was an active member in Inner Wheel Club for Ladies. She participated in various social service activities, and was Secretary of the Club for a year. My mother also had the ambition to become Master in Arts in Oriya, which was encouraged by my father, and all of us. She completed MA in Oriya in 1996, even within all the tedious tasks of the home and office. My mother also was a singer on All India Radio in childhood, and had love for music and dance since childhood. Continuing her passion, she started learning the Sitar and gave several performances which were highly appreciated. Even today, when she plays the Sitar after a gap of several months, her Sitar Teacher is left astonished, as to how she still remembers the notes and does not falter! My mother is a lover of literature and knowledge, and that is how, we all children enjoy creative writing and gaining knowledge. She is a divine woman, praying and visiting temples as often as she can. Of late, as her children are all away, she focuses on prayer and pujas and almost has got a power to know things from far. She calls me when I’d have become upset due to some reason, and tells me things that somehow come true, as though she already knows it. I have realised that if ever I have not heeded her words, then things don’t really go smoothly, and thereafter realised that listening to my mother’s advice and keeping in mind her fears for me, has always got me good results. I can write a whole novel, continuing this story! But two pages it will be, and seven hours of sleep it was!

The angel called ‘Sleep’ took leave. I reached my work destination, and have been going on with life ever since…….Hey….That’s Life…..

6 comments:

  1. Amrita, I am glad to have a glance at your Biography which really gives me rejoice and the immense pleasure. Focusing on your article; the way you described about your Mom, in 1970’s, at Mumbai. I would be happy to read more in that context.
    “Appreciation is on extreme as you always rock”

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  2. Still Waiting for your next version ...>? hope you would be busy in writing..

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  3. It added to the already high respect for aunty in my eyes. Good job. I hope you have made aunty see this. Coz it will make her feel proud and know how much you love her (anyway she knows it)... :)

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  4. your art of portrayal is beautiful.APPLAUDS..

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  5. it seems that God has designed our lives in such a way, that , the same story, the same feelings, the same thoughts, are played n experienced again n again, by different characters(people), at the same time.
    its like a re-run of the same kind of lives, with same feelings n emotions, by different people.

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  6. An Insight and beautiful journey....the centrality really touched me as it can remind one's Baba and Bou.....Keep revising

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