After a decade-long self exile, I visited my mother last winter and found that she had not changed an iota. I’ve seen her for the past forty years and she is what she is.
A fragile old widow in her eighties, she has been commanding a hoard of kids - ranging from 63 to 30. Yes, even the kids of the kids have kids! She does not bother counting the generations of offspring; the number could be over eight dozens.
The day I reached the home where I had spent the golden times of my childhood, she was busy watering her flower garden adjacent to her newly built cosy cottage. The next moment, I saw her feeding a calf, and then a moment later she was caressing her favourite pet - a pregnant goat.
“Mum, would you mind taking some rest? You are too old and fragile to hop around like this,” I pleaded only to get a terse reply, “What for? You may have enough time to take rest but I am on my last lap and there is not much time left for me! Just do not disturb me, okay?”
Her routine is not only limited to these errands. I saw her observing the potato field; picking some insects from a patch of radish while at the same time asking people to irrigate a sprawling wheat field. In the midst of her busy schedule, she took some time off and said, “You kids are doing well. That’s fine…but what do I do with all my overwhelming emotions? I pour my feelings of love into the plants and animals thinking that I am feeding you. I look at those buds and smile at them thinking that my kids who reside seven seas away are smiling at me. What else can I do?”
All of her children were worrying about her shrinking figure coupled with her body aches, fluctuating sugar and blood pressure levels and her ever decreasing eyesight. We were requesting her to stop, take a breath, slow down and not to worry too much about the farm. But a bunch of PhDs and hoards of master’s degree holders shamefully failed to convince our unstoppable mom.
|Mother with a grandson|
The imagery that she had attached with the plants and animals was all about us. Unlike the scriptural myth, she was not replacing the gods and goddesses with us. But it was all out of love for her children that she was doing all these things incessantly.
It was just four in the morning; she had already finished her morning prayers and squatted beside the hearth sipping her herbal tea. She told me to wrap myself up with proper clothes as I was only in my pair of shorts and a sleeveless shirt. I had been doing just fine without her instructions for years; yet she was telling me off with a series of dos and don’ts!
Her health conscious grand-kids grumbled during the meal times as the old woman forced them to eat more. They grabbed their bellies and whispered in a hush-hush manner about how they were getting out of shape because of being forced into over-eating by the ‘old ducky’. Their silent grumbles had no effect on mom and she was stacking food on their plates. The serving was not even half on the plates and she was adding more ‘harmless and healthy’ salads and fruits. “Each time these fruits and vegetables are ready, I wish all my kids were around. I want you to finish them all; that’s where my happiness is. However, you guys come with a dried-up appetite and do not want to eat anything. You are disfiguring yourself; that does not make me happy.”
I was pretty sure that I would be able to convince her to work less and take more rest but I was wrong. I had no strength left to argue when I listened to the logic behind her work. Raising a dozen kids, she had made a habit of loving them in one way or the other and how can we tell her not to love us? That was her nature and that cannot be altered.
A small cell phone rings that she carries around in a small pouch. It was one of my brothers asking about her health. I was thanking the ease of the invention that helped connect so many longing hearts. “Your brother’s got a rather husky voice today, I am sure something is wrong with him. Can you ring him and ask what’s wrong with him?” I tried to convince her to not worry about the ‘old boy’, but she insisted that I call. She was right after all, the brother who rang her a while ago had a sore throat and a mild fever. Reflecting to myself, I thought, ‘This is the lifelong habit of a mother.’