Some years back I attended a creative writing workshop. As an assignment, all the participants were asked to write on “Mother”. This is what I wrote.
Happy Mother’s Day!
It was sunny that day. Or so I imagine. Perhaps it was raining.
What was significant about that day was, that it was the day my mother ceased to be my mother.
Bundled in a white cotton cloth, I lay quietly in her arms. Or so I imagine. The cloth could have been off-white and I could have been crying.
I would not know. I was one year old
What I share with you is what I have been told.
“Mainey sacrifice kiya. Kaunsi ma apna pehla baccha kisi aur ko deti hai.” she says during one of our anguished exchanges.
She was referring to the day she gave me away to Papaji, her father, my maternal grandfather.
“Main kya karti unhoney haath phela kar maanga. “Isey humey dey dey”. Main na samajh thi, mainey dey diya.”
It wasn’t the first time I heard her recount what led to our fateful separation.
She had come down to her parental home in Mumbai to deliver me, her first born child. The day I speak of is the day she was about to leave, to go back to her marital home. Papaji pleaded with her to leave me behind. Being the first grandchild of the family, a male one at that, he had begun to love me more than he ever loved his own children.
The script of my relationship with my mother was written that day, as I lay bundled in her arms.
Every time we fought and tried hard to reconcile our differences, this day would come up.
It seemed embedded as a mountainous immovable rock that neither of us could cross to meet as mother and son. It stood there unmoving, stoically observing all our failed attempts to rejoin the emotional umbilical cord that got broken that day.
I do not mind that.
Yes, I do not mind the fact that she gave me away to my grandfather when I was one year old. I do not mind the fact the she was not involved in my upbringing. I do not mind the fact that we met each other as distant relatives, few days in a year all my life. I do not mind any of it.
What I do mind is her expectation.
Her expectation that I love her.
As a son should love his mother.
I wonder how must a son love his mother? I wonder how does one love when love is not forthcoming? Neither is hate. Just plain indifference to a person who was absent most of my life and returned to reclaim a biological relationship decades later.
There are other characters to this story. This piece is about the Mother.
I wish I could have narrated a happy story. One that had a caring mother and a dutiful son. I wish I could have shared that the son found love for his mother and they lived happily ever after. I wish I could have inspired you with a story of compassion and redemption. At least found some humour in life’s challenges.
I am sorry I cannot.
Neither do I see my story as sad, tragic or depressing.
It is what it is.
This is what happened to me.
This is my story.
This is my mother.