Dearest Amma

For years I kept myself aloof from you because I felt unloved and uncared-for. I have written bits and pieces on why I felt so and how it made me distance myself from you. But what I have never bothered to look back at or write about is your struggle in raising the two of us all alone.

I am now a mother of two and I realize how demanding this designation is. I feel like a failure many a times and that’s when you come to my rescue and instill sense into me. Trust me, I could have never come this far with all that had happened in the past if not for you and Acha.

This makes me remember how strong you are. In tough and sensitive situations when most of us lose our sensibilities to think rationally, you have proved yourself stronger than almost all of us. That day when Acha fell unconscious inside the washroom and you called me up, I couldn’t think beyond the worst. I almost froze from within. While you ensured to take help from the neighbours, break open the door and attend to him, I ran up the stairs till someone told me he was fine, only to break down right there.

And then the last week when Acha went for the car wash and forgot his mobile at home. I still can’t figure out how the receptionist was so careless to call you up after two hours only to say that he hasn’t reached there. You called me up and I froze once again. By the time we managed to talk to him, you had used your presence of mind and found out the exact number from his phone and spoke to him. And you still believe that you’re not capable enough to handle gadgets?

I know I haven’t been the perfect daughter. I know how miserly I have been in expressing my love and gratitude to you. I know how rude I am at times when I try to pull you out of your insecurities and fears for us. But trust me Amma, from within I have always and always admired you for your courage, practical mind, selfless love for almost everyone including the ones who have hurt you deeply in the past and your power to forgive.

You never wore a perfectly matching saree and blouse till I got my first job because you had multiple liabilities from both families. It used to annoy me when other teachers made fun of you saying how miserly you are. I almost always felt like punching a few. Remember how I answered back to the PT teacher when she called you a miser. She tagged me as a bad child forever and said how defensive I was. Yes. I was defensive. I was defensive because I could never bear to see people hurting you or Acha even with their words. I have never heard the two of you answer back to anyone. And I have always seen people taking advantage of this quality of yours.

If there’s one thing I regret, it is the past because of which I never came closer to you. You did make mistakes but those were out of your own fears of raising us all alone. I now know how our rendezvous with the cane stick in the school corridor would have hurt you much more than they hurt me. You were so so scared for us that in your effort to keep us safe, well-behaved and well-brought up, you missed how I missed your touch, your hugs and your kisses. The ones that were most needed for that five-year old who grew up as a lonely child.

On that day when Acha left for the mid-east on his decade long stint, you were suddenly burdened with the responsibility of handling us alone. And on that same day, I lost my mother who used to have enough time for me, who used to teach me rhymes carrying me on her hips, who used to pamper me with all her love. Somewhere we both transformed that day into people we were not. We both built walls around us for different reasons. We both wore masks for the sake of a bright future.

I’m glad that today I feel I have been able to shed all those walls and inhibitions. I have been able to glance back and reflect on the past and the find reasons for the years we both missed.

Amma, I want to relive all those years again with you, Acha and the little one. I want us to have all those years back. We lost a lot while the world around us only counted our material gains and blessings. It’s high time we start living for ourselves and not others. You both have struggled enough and now I just want you both to enjoy your life with our little ones. I can’t bear to see the stress in your eyes for fear of our future. You have done enough for the two of us and I believe you’ve made us powerful enough to handle whatever the future holds.

You tell me that you learn a lot from me. You tell me how you like the way I decide for myself without fear of anyone. How you like the way I stand up for my people and myself. How I am fearless and can take on the world. What you don’t realize is these are things I wanted you to do for yourself. I am what I am because I was raised by you. I stand up for myself because I know how hurt you would be to see me hurt. I am nothing but a byproduct of you, Amma.

Amma and Me

Absolutely indebted to you for everything that you’ve done for us.

It’s been a stressful year and it took Anu’s one sentence of how mean I am because I refused her kiss the other day that took it for me to realize what you would have been through every time you pushed me away from you. ‘SORRY’ is  a small word which cannot express the amount of forgiveness I seek from you. Forgive me, Amma. I loved you. I love you. And I will always love you.

Let’s live the rest of our lives reliving all those lost years. Just keep hugging me once in a while. As you hug me I can feel all the stress and the tensions melting away. I will always and always need you. Happy Mother’s Day, Amma!

 

 

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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.

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

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