As I look at the 3 of them- a cherubic young baby snuggled comfortably in the arms of its Mom, the young mom who holds the baby protectively and tenderly, her tired eyes full of love and the grand mom who resembles the mother of the child as she walks along, a hand gently placed on the shoulder of her daughter – I see the pure unadulterated love in the eyes of the mother for her child. Its a circle of love. For a minute I feel a stab of jealously for this is the love I always searched for in the eyes of my mother but never found.
From the time I can remember as a child – mother hardly spent time with us. I knew she worked hard at the office and also studied in evening college and as I grew I understood it was to give us a better life. My complaint is never about her being a working mom. It is only a few kind words, a hug, someone lovingly caressing my back and asking me how was my day at school? That’s all I needed.
But what did I get when I saw my mother at the end of each day. I heard screams and abuses and pots and pans clanking as my Mom and Dad fought each day. Sometimes it was about the relatives not respecting her, sometimes about her boss and co workers who were jealous and sometimes some thing else. But one thing they did each day unfailingly was fight.
My brother I would hurriedly close the windows and shut our ears tightly, snuggle closer to each other and pray to god that this ends soon. We also hid the pots and pans under the bed when we could. What a disturbed childhood we had. Wish no child goes through this. Parents seldom realize but the impact of such fights on kids is so adverse that it creates a deep gap somewhere which alters the very course of your nature. In our case my brother turned into a defiant, rebellious young man who opposed anything and everything they said. The beatings he got made him all the more stubborn. As for me I retreated into a shell. I became a quiet, subdued person who hardly spoke and mutely agreed to what others said.
As much as I love my Dad as I recall those days when as a child he would make breakfast for us, feed us chapati and banana daily, plait my thick oily hair and send me and brother off to school after which he left for office, I always struggle to associate any such memories with my Mom. Not that I expect her to do all of this. I knew she woke up early and left for work which needed 2 hours of travelling in a city like Mumbai, but on days she was at home as well, I never got any of this.
When I was 21 and thought I wanted to see the real world, come out of the confines of my home which bore many unpleasant memories- my mom decided that I must get married. She choose some one whom she felt would have been a good husband – has a stable bank job, a house of his own, belongs to a respectable family in our community and would live in a nuclear set up after marriage. It did not matter to her that I did not want to get married so soon, nor the fact that I did not know this stranger of a man and here she was telling me to spend a lifetime with him.
After I became a mother, I knew one thing for sure. I would give my kids a childhood which is starkingly different from the one I led. When I look at the bond I have forged with my kids, I know a part of it came from not wanting them to experience anything remotely connected to what I endured as a child. Here too my mother wanted to decide for me- why do you need to work? Your husband earns enough, focus on the kids. As much as I wanted to stay at home with them, I was itching to do something on my own. That’s when I decided to start tuition classes and my hubby supported me. To my rude shock there was my mother again opposing my decision – you will end up neglecting your kids. I am glad I persisted and did per my mind.
As an adult, in fact mother of 2 it really irked me that my mom treated me like a teenager- forever instructing me how to run the house, what to feed the kids, where to keep the utensils and clothes, in fact she had also decided that every summer vacation we would visit her in Dehradun as she wanted to spend time with her grand kids.
Not much has changed to this day. I am a grandmother now – my mother staunchly refuses to stay together. She is close to 75 and after my Dad’s passing away , despite the differences and bitter memories I still care and fear for her- due to which I asked her to move in with us in a spare bedroom. She took up the offer for sometime, there were frequent fights as the once quiet subdued girl has now turned into a fiery woman who wouldn’t just take everything lying down. After a few days she left my house and continues living alone in a different city.
To support my daughter who is working, I decided to quit my job so that the little one could be taken care of. While my mother was here, she would take care of her great grand son – she seemed happy and I thought this will work out well. It will help her come out of her despair after Dad’s death and my daughter and I can continue working- we offered to have a full time help but she vehemently declined. Don’t you think I am fit enough to take care of the baby? I need no one.
It was working well but she had to ruin it. So off she walked leaving us in the lurch with a infant to care for, no maid cos we never wanted one, two working women and men who were clueless. A decision had to be taken, I had to do that. I decided to quit my job, as much as I loved it, I knew owed a bigger one to the child.
A few days later when the storm had calmed down- mother tells me on the phone “Oh so you left your job, anyway you would have done that sooner or later right. You are almost on the verge of retirement why not focus on the grand child.”
I wanted to scream” Mom you are already retired like 20 years ago, why don’t you help out so that I do not need to sacrifice my job, that too when we have someone in the family who rather than living all alone in a city can come and live with a family who cares for you. Who would want to spend their time in an empty house, without any friends or social life or a job when you have a family who cares for you- a grand child, great grand son, a son in law who welcomes you and a daughter who needs your support. Why Mom why”
To be honest I love taking care of the child and I do it selflessly as much for my daughter as for my grand child- but I often wonder why don’t I see that love from my mother even in the sunset of her life?
As the little grandson clutches my finger tightly when taking his nap and my daughter blows me a kiss “Love you Ma” as she leaves for office, I wonder did I ever say this to my mom. Somewhere I never felt that love in me. Am I not destined to have my mother’s love?
Author’s note: I wouldn’t call this a short story for this is not a piece of fiction.For all those who know me , this is not my story for I share a very special bond with my mother who is a friend and a huge support system in my life. This is the story of a few among us who don’t rally share that bond with their mothers, the reasons could be aplenty.
To be fair and get the mother’s perspective too, I bring you part 2 of this series soon “The daughter I never had”. Through the eyes of a mother, as talks about her trials and tribulations and her side of the story