i sat there staring at the most beautiful person in the world. i had tears in my eyes but i wasn’t afraid that she’d notice. she was busy striking an enchanting conversation with an auto-driver – Umesh. people ask me where i get my charm from. now i know for sure that i can blame it on my genes.
i looked at her radiance and i smiled. it was time for a flashback. if a 50th b’day isn’t enough of an excuse for it, i don’t know what else it is. i tried, for the first time in my life to understand why so much love had filled my heart at that moment. you didn’t need to be a genuis to figure out what unconditional love can do to you.
” a lot of people have gone further than they could because someone else thought they could”.
the flashback didn’t start while we were on our way home surrounded by shopping bags. it started when she accepted to spend the day with me. i was grateful. she was shy and refused to go out with me because there was so much to do, so many “others” to think off. my mother had always been like this. i have never seen her do anything for herself. i hurt at her selflessness. i knew i had taken her for granted for way too long but at 50, if she didn’t make time for herself, i would!
it’s true when they say that the state of your heart shows on your eyes. if the sparkle in her eye were anything to go by, i knew she was happy. she held my hand as we walked and giggled at the smallest things. i get my giggle from her. the innocence and the magic she brought to a task i hated so much was refreshing. we tried on purses and jewelerry and shoes. did normal girly stuff and smiled at everyone who would look at us. it happened to be mothers day and i know that many people were blessing us. in this magical world, we were ordinary and in love. in the real world, we were people who had given up conventional jobs for the social sector. which meant we never had enough time off from saving the world to spend with each other. just yesterday at a meeting i had boasted about how i didn’t have much but i did have time. i realise now that that was a blatant lie.
my mum says i’ve skipped all normal growth patterns and have landed wearing adult shoes from when i was a little girl. she graces me with a compliment only a mother could give. i was a child, i did my share of tantrum throwing. i was a teenager and a rotten one at that. my mum will never say it but i was a terror. i always went through my phases earlier than normal children and my phases usually lasted a year. my teenage phase was when i was 11. my ‘i need a man’ phase was when i was 16. my mum has supported me through all my phases. she would yell and gripe and make doomsday predications but at the end of the day, she would make sure i slept soundly before going back to her room and crying silent tears and praying for me. if it weren’t for her prayers and her love, i would’ve drowned a long time ago.
i remember thinking her old fashioned. she isn’t. she’s seen the world and the world has, many times, come calling for her. she refused all that adventure for love of her 3 children. that was my first lesson in humilty and in self-sacrifice. God knows that i still don’t have half the strength that she does to do all the things that she does, go through all the dark nights that she has been through and endured despite it all. if there were life lessons to be learnt, i will ask for no better teacher.
she has always taught by example that all the world is the same. that people aren’t richer or poorer. that people are people and that is why everyone should be treated as such. i never got beaten up by her for playing with the slum children. she encouraged it. in school when i made friends with the so called less-priveledged peers, and was suspended cause of it, my mother silently accompanied me to school and supported me while all the teachers gave her a mouthful. i can only imagine all the things she had to hear, all the fears she had to harbour having me as her daughter.
i always speak of her with a sense of pride. i was never abused by her. she has always taught me go after my dreams and if i stand up for what i believe in, i know that it is because even if i did fall because of it, she would be there with a first aid kit to help the scraped knee. she’s a regular doctor, nurse, teacher, parent, mentor and most importantly a friend. i’m not an extremely talkative person when it comes to me but she notices the subtleties of body language. she senses when i am down. she sees right through my “woohoo” farces. she knows when i’m hurting and when i lock her out of that place, she would hurt for me despite it. even if i don’t want to be vulnerable in front of anyone, she sees the tears in my eyes and her eyes automatically fill up. it isn’t that she’s sympathetic. it’s that she has realised the blessing of a communion and a fellowship. we are not serfs or landlords. we are warriors on the same path to Light and she is my Soulmate.
if i have embraced myself and have come to love myself, it is only because she loved me first and i has never hesitated to show it to me. there was a time when physical contact was just so uncool but now i’m longing to rush home to wait for her and watch her come down the stairs slowly saying “switch of the TV and do something useful’ or how i cannot shake off my sleep bug until i hear my mothers malyalam rantings. my heart leaps with joy at moments like that. it’s a sign to me of life. of the fact that i have a mother who has and always will love me despite knowing the depths of my heart. she’s the one person who can make me feel so special and the one who helps carry my cross. we have the world to save, but it isn’t as lonely as i thought it would be. we have each other.
love costs all that we are and she paid that price for me. she gave herself up. and for that, i can never thank her enough. on the occasion of 50th b’day, i wondered what i could gift her that would show her how grateful i am and how much i love her. i think of a funny valentine.
we’re so arrogant, aren’t we? so afraid of age, we do everything we can to prevent it. we don’t realize what a privilege it is to grow old with someone. someone who doesn’t drive you to commit murder or doesn’t humiliate you beyond repair. someone who loves and loves and loves even when it drains the life out of them.
this is for my special someone. my funny valentine. happy birthday mamma! i love you.
I wrote this on May 14th 2009