Friday, June 20, 2014



                                                        (MOTHER )

Growing up meant freedom from the daily nagging of my mother. She would generally address me with her favourite lines:

‘ You are just like your father. I can’t understand the reasons for your absent-mindedness. Which is the world wherein you seem to be lost always ?’

Sometimes I would tell her that I shall not take food as I am already late for school. That was perhaps my way of dealing with her nagging. She would come running from the kitchen with a plate full of cooked rice, vegetables and a little curd and mix them and force half of the plate down my gullet.

‘Now do what you want to do. You lazy creature! Why don’t you polish your shoes? And these shoelaces, you always keep untied. Who shall teach you these things? O, God! when shall this boy grow ?’

I would sometimes say:

‘ Let me grow, I shall serve the army .’

' Let your enemies join the military services. I do not like the jobs that keep you away from your parents. Never that military job.  Your Mama is waiting for you to grow. He shall settle you in Accountant General's office, Post office or Telegraph office. What does your father know? Life is not newspapers and magazines that your father reads and then passes on to you. I shall have to think many times before your marriage. For sure you are going to put some one’s daughter to great trouble with this attitude. '

She would invariably check my school bag every day to remove the toffee wrappers and pieces of eaten pears or sometimes a banana skin that I would dump inside the bag. She would set the books in order, sharpen the pencil and ensure that the fountain pen is properly filled with ink.
Every day she would cry :
“ You better carry your books in a cheap gunny bag. Boys like you do not deserve these costly school bags. What do you know how I purchased this bag for you? It was bought from the cash that Bhabi ( my maternal grandmother ) gave to me confidentially when she visited us last year. I was supposed to purchase a new Sari as I hardly have any sari for the forthcoming marriage in Sher ( my father ‘s sister ) family . .”

Sometimes I felt that she never loved me. Perhaps she could find nothing up to the mark in me. Maybe she focused more on me. I was never sure what she wanted from me.
Then one day something strange happened. On my return from the school, I would generally provoke stray dogs on the road by yelling “ woff -woff ” at them. These dogs would bark a little and run away. That day the dogs were already in some excitement and one amongst these dogs ran after me. In utter fright, I ran towards  the Jogilanker bridge and wanted to cross it as fast as I could. With a heavy school bag on my back, I could not manage the balance and my foot slipped. My school bag fell straight into the water canal ( known as Maar ) below while I hit my head hard against the iron railing of the bridge. I know nothing about what happened thereafter.
When I regained consciousness, I saw myself inside Ram Joo Handoo’s medical shop. I had a bandage on my head and my mother held me in her lap. I heard my mother saying to Ram Joo Handoo:

“ Shall the stitches give him any pain? ”

“ Not much. Don’t worry .”

I saw Mohammad Ismail (provision seller ) , Ali Mohammad (tailor) , Mohd Sidiq  (baker), Gopi Nath (Bazar president ) and Noor Mohd  (Gaat Munshi)  also in the shop. They too felt relieved when I opened my eyes. Feeling somewhat relieved that I had opened my eyes, my mother said in a soft voice ;

' Son, are you feeling better now? Forget that bag and the  books. Today only we shall buy another bag and new books . I shall also buy you a lunch box. You need not take those pears that fall from trees in your school. We shall also go to Maatamaal ( mother ‘s parental home ). You like ice cream. Worry not, I shall buy it for you. When you grow, your Mama shall buy a bicycle for you. You need not run after friends for a bicycle ride .'

And then she softly moved her fingers through my hair. She kept kissing my hands and forehead. I saw Ram Joo telling me:

' You naughty boy, you made your mother weep.'

Could she weep for me? Not believing this, I looked at my mother’s face. Tears kept rolling down her eyes and fell on my face. She kept wiping them with the corner of her Sari.
Intermittently,  she kept hugging me and kissing my forehead. I also saw that Mohammad Ismail (provision seller ) brought a glass of hot milk from his house. Ramjoo Handoo put some biscuits in the glass and passed on the glass to my mother. Ali Mohammad( tailor )brought a spoon from his nearby house. My mother dug a spoonful of this biscuit milk from the glass and offered it to me.

Strange but true, at that moment, I felt like banging my head against the railing of the Jogilanker bridge again and again to see the  tears in my mother's eyes.

( Avtar Mota )                  

Creative Commons LicenseCHINAR SHADE by Autarmota is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 2.5 India License.
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