Sunday, March 11, 2018

thirty seven banana peels #37: amma - vidya - mummy!


Mummy was what I called her. I realize when typing how weird it sounds to read! Over the later period, which started about a decade prior to her passing, I just called her Vidya. It is quite symbolic in representing how my relationship with her evolved over the years.

It started like a stereotypical south Indian mother son relationship. Two children were the norm as well. Look at the other peel on how I was with my brother. She alternated between a strict disciplinarian to performing the tempering role when our dad blew his top. That there was a studious fixation on our studiousness goes without saying. My grades were above average overall so I largely got a free pass in this category.

Looking at the amount of fuss that goes into bringing up children today amuses me. Welcome to the modern era where everything goes into convoluted analysis and ends up coming out better informed and wholly messed up. Not just my mother, mothers of that era and the previous once brought up children effortlessly. Many had to handle 4 or 5. It is not that they were perfect, but looking at today, I can say it was largely sufficient. Some niches are in our awareness today, that is all. I echo Joey: "I turned out fine!"

However there was one time I fell into the trap all educated children fall into. The information muddle convinced me I was better than her. I once remarked: I am surprised you brought me up this well. I quite didn't intend to portray it in that tone or meaning but it unfortunately came out that way. She was hurt. But like all mothers she forgave me. It is one of those things I regret saying.

While I didn't consciously decide to, my relationship with her evolved almost into that between two friends. This was when I just called her with her first name. It is my most cherished part both because of the recency and my full realization of what she meant to me.

I am also glad my relationship with her isn't a regret story of could have beens. Though we lived in different cities, one of us made it a point to talk once a week. Our calls usually lasted 30 minutes on average even though there wasn't enough substance to fill the time. Some balderdash would do.

There were about 3-4 people she opened up in depth to. One was my dad. Other was me. Third was Radha. Finally, one of our aunts. I amusedly noted that in some cases Radha was ahead of me in the pecking order. Vidya had the ability to say the same trivial incident to twenty different people with the same involvement, emotion and intensity. It was as if she narrated everything the first time.

She lived happily in the last decade. Not that much was lacking earlier. But a certain happy-go-luckiness got to her. She was largely untouched by happenings and if she was, she moved on pretty quickly. She never harped on the same thing. She was also blessed in a certain way. People around her wanted to protect and take care of her. Her innocence had a very disarming effect on others.

She was on continuous medication and the number of surgeries she endured will form a list. Despite all this, she lived an upbeat life. While not deeply inclined intellectually, she often surprised me with some deep observations about people and life. The other area she surprised me was in a few incidents she narrated in passing which showed she had a certain "spiritual cocoon" around her. The most telling demonstration of this was in the way she passed on. I am happy she did her Shambhavi practice sincerely to the end.

Once a way, I get this thought that would I be happy if I had gotten one more week with her? Part of me says yes. But I realize whenever it happened, the void cannot be escaped. I haven't suffered since her passing. It speaks well of our relationship. But there's no replacing a mother isn't it?

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