My most loving Ma,
The first letter of love I write, has to be to you. Who else, if not the woman who bore me for 9 months, breastfed me for 2 years and then has loved me unconditionally alongside her man for the last 34?
The truth ma, is that when I think of you, when I write to you, when I speak to you, when I fight with you, I am never not teary 😀 Either of joy, or of concern, fear, sadness, solidarity, love, irritation, frustration at the distance and what not. But there’s not one moment when I don’t feel intense love for you in some or the other form.
As you age and as I do too, I see your tiredness in perspective. I see your life in as much perspective as I can. Since your mother and MIL have left this world, I dread the day when I will (for we all must) face your loss. Will I be able to cope with the strength that you showed? Will I be graceful as you are?
When I consider having a family, I wonder ma. Will I be as giving, as loving, as selfless as you have been? I have never seen you argue with anyone except in rare circumstances. I’ve seen you serve one and all. I have seen you adopt one and all, my friends, those of your sons, those of your husband’s, the neighbour’s children, the orphan maid with 4 children of her own, labour that made our home, plants, stray animals, what not. Yet, you’ve managed to make each of us feel like we belong, in our own unique way.
You may not have read to us as many stories as papa did, you have given us enough that mattered. Your own stories, I will never have a dearth of, to tell kids in the family and to the kids of the larger family in the world. The realistic stories of a loving mother who has dealt with happy times, the not so happy, the easy, the tough and more.
Had you not been the mother that you are, I would have never learnt to share your love. I remember you asking me in rhetoric with your gentle voice when I was throwing a fit over the maid calling you ‘mummy’… “Munna, kal ko bhabhiyaan aayengi, tera apna pati bhi to mujhe ma bolega beta, tab bhi aise hi ladegi?”
That moment, you explained to me what motherhood really is about. It’s not just about bearing and rearing children, it’s about giving. Unconditionally.
I have seen you give in different roles. To your elders, you have played the role of their mothers when you nurtured them, when you served them and continue to do so. With your peers, I have seen you play the role of the fairy Godmother, no matter what advice, support they may need. With your youngers, I have seen you hold them as children in your lap, and as secret keepers when they needed it.
I see you fight for me, when I won’t; no matter who you may face; your relatives, or dad’s or the ever-meddling general public. I see you fight for dad, without him even knowing. I see you fight for the boys, when they only partially realize what you have done and continue to do.
I am happy that you have looked after your health and I want you to continue doing it. As I approach later thirties in a few years, I hope to be able to see you happier, relaxed, settling in your role as the matriarch of the family (though you’ve ruled like a queen in your own right anyway, all through).
I wish I was a worthier daughter, married, a mother myself. However, I also know that you will understand better than any other person in this world that I need to be out there and go get much more for myself. You also understand my insecurities, my hurt, my disappointment, my fear, joys, sadness, anger and the myriad of nuanced emotions that I experience and let spill over to you.
I realize in hindsight that I haven’t been an easy child to raise. But for you mother, I would have been a disaster. And but for you, I am anything but a miracle.
As I close this first letter in what is hopefully going to be a series of them, I hope to be a better and a more loving daughter, a closer comrade, the friend that you’ve made in me, the patient adult that you have so patiently nurtured in me. It is time now for me to step up and nurture you, protect you, love you as unconditionally as you have done all my life this far.
With that ma, I’m glad that you’ve learnt to say ‘I love you too, Munna’ rather than a thank you, when I say ‘I love you Ma’.
Much love to you,
Your loving daughter
© Anupama 2018