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Monday, February 2, 2009

Mom’s the word

This piece on my mother has been selected to be published in a book titled My Mother. The book invites entries from authors around the world and is an effort to pitch for the Guinness World Records for the largest collaboratively authored book written on mothers. The story is available online

By: Eisha Sarkar

Her mother was not ordinary, nothing about her is either. With doses of humour she keeps spirits high. Her mom was an extraordinary achiever, who definitely was her daughter’s best friend.

I don't have a sad story to tell. I got married last month and for the first time in my life, I've had to live away from my mother, Sujata. I didn't shed a tear the day I saw her board the train, leaving me behind in a new city with a new family - my in-laws. I told myself I shouldn't cry. And I didn't because she didn't. She just smiled as she bid me farewell from the door. The effort behind that smile wasn't ordinary. Nothing about her is really. Certainly not her strength.

If raising two kids in a middle class family in India wasn't tough enough, mom decided to move out of her role of a homemaker to teach schoolchildren. At the age of 34, she would take a public transport bus along a potholed road (that was quite a ride!) to a remote school to teach differently-abled children. She brought a smile to their faces when she alighted from the bus each morning and walked to her class. The smiles weren't any different from what my brother and I had on our faces when we would come home from school everyday to find her waiting to hear what we'd been doing all day.

What I have inherited from my mother, apart from her genes, is her sense of humour. It is what gives her strength and makes her the person she is. She wears it like the sacred gold necklace that most Indian wives wear. She uses it well to haggle with a vendor over the prices of vegetables. She laces it with sarcasm as she fends off a persuasive salesman or telemarketer ("Yes, I need a credit card. Can you please put in some cash as well in my account? That would be really nice of you," she says.). She spices it up with just the right dose of gossip to make a boring conversation interesting. And she caresses me with it to brighten up a really dull day.My mom is an extraordinary achiever, though she's led a rather ordinary life. She aced in studies but didn't take up a career because she wanted to devote her time to her two kids. Once she knew we were well-grounded, she took to teaching. She would have done well if she had taken up a government or a high-profile corporate job too. I could never understand why she didn't. Maybe because of the satisfaction she got out of teaching. I met some of her students recently who remember her long after she'd stopped teaching them. She had taught them the alphabet. How could they ever forget her?
Once I had asked her, "You've been such a good student. But you haven't put it to much use. What have you achieved?" She just smiled and said, "You and your brother."

I wouldn't have been a writer if it wouldn't have been for her. If she hadn't accidentally discovered it, she would have never known my secret love for journalism. I didn't have the confidence to write publicly. She gave me the confidence and the reason to write ("Write what you would want to read and then think of others," she had said.)
My school principal had once advised, "Treat your best friend as your mother and treat your mother as your best friend." Fortunately, I haven't known any better.


'Tis a beautiful life! said...


Mishka said...

This isn't sad at all but still so strangely touching. I got goosebumps. Lovely piece!