She keeps running. My mother, she won’t stop. Day after day for fifty years she has been running without looking back or stopping anywhere. Maybe she has, I wouldn’t know. She would never let anyone know if she had to stop, take a breath, have a breakdown, get up again, wipe off the sweat from her forehead, and start running again. Isn’t that how most mothers are? At times I wonder if there was a training session for all expecting mothers; where they are taught these rules of what to do and what not to do as a mother. As funny as it may seem, it’s true how all mothers have the same response to their kids when they mess things up. Don’t you agree? This is why I wonder if mothers came with an instruction manual.
My mother is 50 but she looks 40. 70% of her coworkers don’t believe that she has a 23-year-old daughter. I myself being the 23-year-old daughter can’t believe she has a 23-year-old daughter who has developed 90% of her characteristics from her mother.
“You all have no idea how hard I work every day.”
Yes, we do. I do. But to get this acknowledgment of her hard work across her is out of the question. My family does not express emotions well. We don’t know how to say ‘Thank You’ to each other or say ‘Sorry’. We don’t explicitly tell each other we love them. All of these unsaid emotions are conveyed through actions. But, the problem with conveying things in this manner is that a lot of these “actions” remain unnoticed and unseen. Whenever I am home and my mother has to go to work, I make a checklist and tick off each chore as I complete them before she returns from the hospital. To my horrid luck, I end up missing out on at least two things that were important but never crossed my mind. As much as I hate seeing her do household work after her shift at the hospital, she is also adamant about finishing everything before she could take some rest. There are times when I have to snatch the dirty clothes put to wash from her hands because there is no other way of easing the load off her back.
There are so many things in this world that she wants but restricts herself from. Not because she can’t afford them, because she can easily afford all the luxury a woman wants. She brought me up in a way that I don’t ask for anything beyond necessity. If I need a new lipstick, I can save up enough money from my allowance and buy one, but there’s no way she is giving me extra money for just a lipstick. She doesn’t compromise on leisure. But not at the cost of work and studies. There is a balance in things that she successfully manages to take forward with her in life but I failed miserably at it.
She always has home remedies to every single body-related trouble I face on more or less a daily basis. Be it a pimple scar or bloated tummy. Natural turmeric is her go-to item for most of these problems. It can heal scars, lighten the skin, increase immunity, and whatnot. She also loves trying out new recipes and since these days she has to work 12 hours a day, our chat is filled with her sending me YouTube cooking videos.
Mother’s day has become confusing in our house. When I was small, I’d make her cute little cards, pluck flowers from outside, place them inside the card and hand it to her. This was a ritual until suddenly I stopped making cards during my “rebelhood”. Last Sunday was Mother’s Day and it was again very awkward the whole day because I wanted to make her a card once again but I just couldn’t. I wanted to cook her something nice, but my migraine didn’t allow me to. The next day, she asked me and my brother what we did for her on Mother’s day because she was obviously disappointed in us. She saw my cousin put up WhatsApp status with her mother, but nothing from me. Guilty. For the longest time, my epic come back to such questions would be, “Do you wish me on Daughter’s Day?” But thinking of it now, I don’t need to be wished on Daughter’s Day. That’s not the reason why I stepped back from showing her gratitude. I developed certain mannerisms during the said “rebelhood” and one of them was hesitating to express my feelings. For some reason, for me wishing people over a text or phone is easier than wishing them in person and for the same reason, it was very easy for me to wish her “Happy Nurses Day” over call while she was at work than saying “Happy Mother’s Day” in person.
She and I have this weird quirk where we see her mother and my dad’s parents, i.e. my grandparents in our dream right around the time of each one’s death remembrance. It may sound like sorcery but it is true. Sometimes we have these dreams at the same time and we love freaking my brother out with the details. Whenever she talks about her mother, I can feel that she misses Ammachiamma a lot. She keeps telling us how Ammachiamma used to take 2 out of her 9 children turn by turn every Sunday to have porotta and sambar after Mass because taking all 9 of them at the same time was not affordable at that time. Mummy would eagerly wait for her turn because that one Sunday was a like getaway from household work and the usual boiled kappa and chammandi. Those 9 children were not pampered a lot. They had to be self-sufficient and take care of each other. Some of them were married off and some of them left their homes and went in search of better jobs to support their parents financially.
My mother too struggles every day to teach us how to be self-sufficient and not crib about the minor inconvenience we may face. And when we make a fuss out of things, she reminds us of how hard she has to work every day and how difficult it was for her and her siblings who couldn’t enjoy half the privileges we do. Just like every other parent.
This blog post is my way of letting out all the unexpressed love and dedication to the tough parent who deep inside wishes to express herself more than she does but can’t because of reasons unknown to her. She will read this one day when it becomes easier for both of us to talk openly about suppressed emotions and finally hug; where the hug isn’t the usual goodbye hug while leaving home after my vacation.