Mother played a seminal role in shaping my character by inspiring me to imbibe values, which worked hugely well for me in the face of life’s challenges.
Early days of her married life were tough, being a part of the joint family. Most of the time my grandparents did not allow my father- who was in the army- to take her along with him. Because of her tender age and naivety she did not react initially and suffered stoically. Soon she had to assert herself strongly and a small house was constructed in a short time by my father. Living separately gave her confidence and resurrected her dormant qualities. She became a sort of an activist, instructing village women in making pickles, sweets, and taught sewing, crocheting and other household skills.
Later when I grew up she would bare her heart out, narrating the traumatic experiences of her early married life, which would get triggered off and on. Tears would roll down my eyes and hers and we would cry together for hours-cementing a mother daughter bond. Even after my marriage, on short visits to her, the scene was repeated many times leading to a type of Cathartic effect on both of us.
Strangely enough after each visit, a ripple of deep tenderness and gratefulness for her would start flowing in my being, thinking of her sacred and unconditional love for me and my family. Now whenever I look at her photograph (my parents’ pictures adorn my bedroom) I experience a profound emotional connect as well as a blessed feeling of her protective presence.
Mother remained my confidante, counsellor, well wisher and above all my soul curry, throughout her life. There was an intense and steely bonding and an unstated understanding between the two of us. Her face would light up to see me whenever we visited her and I would feel totally relaxed and heavenly.
I always marvelled at her courage, honesty and fearlessness in everyday life situations. She was religious and traditional too and would prepare halwa ( parsad) on birth anniversaries of our Gurus and special dishes on festivals. She was God fearing and stuck to a fixed schedule for morning and evening prayers all her life. As a young girl I imbibed it all, including her exceptional culinary skills.
I recall an incident, which for ever impacted my perspective towards life. I had been married for many years when a trying situation made me very vulnerable and depressed. I could not help shooting a letter to her about my predicament. When I met her she said somewhat reproachfully, “Nothing stays for ever, good or bad and one must always adapt oneself to the changing circumstances”. This statement I knew was the distillation of her vast experiences, which held a mirror to life. Whenever I was facing a difficult situation, the memory of that incident steered me in the right direction.
Mother was inimical to vanity and hypocrisy and would not stand people who blew their own trumpet. Such people respected her and were a little in awe of her, no nonsense nature.
Another incident which taught me to be humble and grounded always is the one when we shifted to our newly built house and she visited us bringing sweets and gifts. We were showing her around and I playfully uttered “Do you like our house Ma?” She lovingly put her hand on my shoulder and softly whispered so that no one else may hear it, “Yes it is beautiful, but it is a gift of the Almighty to you all, so be grateful for His blessings.”
She remained my anchor and my pole star throughout. Her sweet memories and her simple lessons will forever stay fresh in my mind. ‘Ma I salute you and thank you a million times wherever you are!’