Amma, now I understand you.

 

My first English teacher, she is. My words, I owe her.

She taught me to be independent. She taught me to be brave. She taught me to stay committed. She taught me to take the right path, however difficult. Her name, ‘Sathyam’ which means truth. Truthful just like her

Mom. Amma as I address her.

Born and brought up in a small town in Kerala, she went to a convent school. She went on to become a B.Sc., B.Ed. while her cousins were all married and ‘settled’ with two or three children by the age of twenty. She got married to Achan (my father) immediately after joining B.Ed. and they stayed apart for a year so she could complete her course.

A year after she joined Achan, she was selected as a Primary School Teacher in a Government Aided School in the NCT of Delhi, but all of five weeks I was present in her womb when the medical test was conducted. In short, she lost two years of service because of me. She joined the school when I was one (thirty-five years ago) and continues to teach hundreds of students every year.

She meets many of her ex-students at various functions or at the temple and she makes it a point to remember their name and some of the incidents associated with their childhood. Initially, every single time someone came up and touched her feet, we felt awkward. We felt awkward because we didn’t realize the importance of a teacher in a student’s life. We felt awkward because we felt insecure. Amma has always addressed her students as ‘ente makkal’ which translates to ‘my children’. As kids, we were always annoyed with this expression. But she never changed it. A toffee we were sure to get only if she had decided to distribute a packet in her class.

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For a major part of our childhood we were brought up by Amma single-handedly as Achan had taken up a foreign assignment which stretched over a decade. She was strict, yet convincing. She loved me, but rarely expressed. She cared for, but I never understood. With my cousin brother, my uncle and my aunt staying with us for years and my ever-cranky and always ill little sis, Amma never had much time for me. Or she thought I was old enough and I understood. I loved summer vacations, but only the train journey. During the journey, she was my mother. She would share stories from her childhood, from our childhood. She would share life lessons her big girl must know. She would talk to me endlessly. Once she was in Kerala, she would mostly be busy attending my bed-ridden grandmother and preparing her ayurvedic medicines or taking us to various relatives.

Recently, I had a conversation with my sis about Amma and she started laughing. I told her that I still am not clear if I connect with Amma the way I should. I told her how I never got a chance because of her (sis) clinging on to Amma for everything all her life. I told her how I disliked one of my aunts for not even letting me sleep next to mom after Achan’s posting abroad. I don’t know if she ever realized, but I missed Amma more than Achan even though she was physically present. And maybe that’s why I never spoke to her about my decision to marry the person I loved. She was the silent spectator of my discussions with Dad regarding the love of my life. I never thought it appropriate to go and talk to her about any of my problems. At times I wonder why I never wrote a letter to her just like I wrote to Achan.

Even with all this imaginary distance, it is from her that I learnt most of life’s important lessons. Like,

  • Why we must learn to forgive and forget.
  • Why it is important to let go of your ego to maintain relationships.
  • Why we must not procrastinate.
  • How to fearlessly accept your mistake and apologise.
  • When to stand up for yourself and others.
  • Doing what you love to do irrespective of what others think of you.
  • How to remain content with what we have and not fall for competition.

My grandparents died. Amma and Achan have helped all their siblings settle down. I got married. My sister got married and settled abroad. Most of her responsibilities have been taken care of. Now, she has all the time in the world for me. But I have a family to attend to. I have my in-laws to take care of too. Many a times I do not give her enough time. And at these times, I realize why she couldn’t give me much time when I was young. She never complains. But I do feel bad for her. She calls me at least ten to fifteen times a day and the questions are repetitive.

How are you?

What are you doing?

Had breakfast/lunch/dinner?

How is your husband?

How are the children?

What are they doing?

All she wants to know is that we are fine.

Sometimes I do not answer her call. Not deliberately. But because I’m busy preparing breakfast or I’m busy teaching the girls for their exams or I’m busy cleaning the house. Sometimes I get irritated because of my anxiety disorder and my husband has to bring me back to senses. And at night, when everyone has slept and everything has been taken care of, I think. I think and I regret. Sometimes I silently weep. Wasn’t this the time I had waited all my life for? Wasn’t this what I missed all my life? And now how am I treating her? I wish she understands. I wish she forgives me. I wish I speak to her about it someday.

Love you lots, Amma!

I hope to spend some good time with her as she retires this September after 36 years of dedicated service as an educator.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

This post is written for #MyFirstExpert Story, sponsored by Godrej Expert and hosted by IndiBlogger.

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41 Replies to “Amma, now I understand you.”

  1. Dear Rekha,
    Don’t be too hard on yourself! I am sure Satyam tr senses your love, even if it is not always verbal.
    Tr always talks about you and your family with great pride.
    Warm regards,
    LG

  2. Dear you realize or not she is the one who always found a solution to your problems and the one who can do anything in real senses to see you happy amma knows us and understands us thats what amma is cheerup dear you have been and will always be the apple of all of our eye amma acha and myself and no sorry as if amma was busy with me acha have been busy with you grrr😕

  3. So much from the heart Rekha, like all ur posts. As I finished reading there is some pull inside me, somehow I am too touched. I remember her as a new teacher who joined after I joined school. A no nonsence person, soft, butd bold to say the truth . Keep this literary journey going.

  4. Why does it happen to us with mothers that we take them for granted? I hope that you find the time to reconnect with her. Such a challenge for working parents especially when they are single handedly raising kids. I know what you meant when you said she thought you would understand. Sometimes, I expect my elder son to know, to understand. Nice post.

    1. Thanks for reading Rachna! I wish I knew this when I was young. It is only when We experience similar episodes with our children that we tend to realise our mistakes. Learning a lot these days as I spend more time with them.

  5. Nice post rekha! Infact i eagerly wait for all your new posts, somehow all your posts touches my heart, and i relate it to myself. Mothers are always the best person in the world.

  6. As first borns, we learn very early in life the importance and inevibiloity of sharing our mums and it does not come naturally to us. The younger ones have always seen the older ones around,so they don’t ever have this feeling. To them, it comes naturally and gracefully while most of the elder ones have experienced the feeling of not being the apple of mum’s eye anymore, some time or the other. But, the thing is as first borns – we always are extra special and they would never admit but maybe they love us a little more! 🙂

    Mums are special. Even I sometimes get irritated by frequent phone calls to just ask if I have eater or reached home or the like, but we owe them that. 🙂

    1. Your comment says it all Akanksha! They do love us a little. I say this because I have similar feelings for my firstborn. Not that I love the second born any less, but the first ones are always a little more special and closer to the heart. Thank you for taking time to share your views. 🙂 and yes we owe them that much.

  7. Such an honest and straight-from-the-heart post. My hugs, Rekha. And stop being so hard on yourself. I’m sure she knows how much you love her.

  8. These days i haven’t been reading much but I didn’t want to miss on this one. I had a heavy heart in the morning and when I read this, I suddenly felt like crying. Loved the honesty with which you wrote the post Rekha. Loved the post.

    1. Thank you so much Jas for taking time to read and comment! This was indeed a post that came out by itself. Sometimes, your deepest feelings spill out as you sit down to write something else. This was a similar experience.

  9. This is such a heart-wrenching post, Rekha!! First of all, I wish I could hug you for your honesty and compassion that shone through this post! You are so frank yet understanding about your relationship with your mom!! I’m very sure that she knows how much you care!!

    1. Thanks a ton Roshni for all the love! I’m so glad that I wrote this post though it was not intended to be this. I got so many PMs and emails from random people appreciating the post and its honesty. And most of them confessed having a similar relationship with their mothers or fathers. It helped me as well as them to know that we aren’t alone. There are many others who have been through these feelings. Dad made my Mom read it and she was so full of tears he said. But then we share our birthdays and so she is just like me. She will not be able to express herself to me ever, I know.

  10. Beautiful post Rekha. You have poured your heart out. So many unwanted distances come up sometimes even between the closest relations and which leads to so much heartache.

    1. Absolutely true Asha! Distances are never there. It’s always our minds that create distances. And by the time we realise it, it’s too late. Making amendments right away. Thank you for reading!

  11. Such a heartfelt and beautiful post Reks. We do tend to take them for granted and like you I have also secretly wept at night so many times for the missed calls. Sometimes I call back the next day and sometimes I don’t. Sigh!

  12. Beautifully written, Rekha! I feel the same too, many times. I get caught up in life and work, and wish I spent more time with my parents.

  13. Rekha, wonderful to meet you geet you & read you in blog world. Amma was a mirror image with my Amma , a school teacher. You totally inspired me to write about my Amma.

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