Close friends have often noted that when talking of my parents, I reference the mother more than I mention the father. He is always there in the background, but I rarely talk about him. Perhaps, it’s to do with him being the quieter of the two. Or perhaps, I’m a lot more possessive about him. And there is little I want to share of him with the outside world. On the other hand, I can never say enough about the mother.
They complement as well as contradict each other. But they have their parenting jurisdictions in place. The father provides; the mother nurtures. I loved how succinctly Lalita put it in an open letter to her three-year-old, “I know your daddy can lavish you with technology. But I am the only one who can give you time, so, some consideration, please.” (I can see the mother nodding with approval, at this line).
She is the silent sort. Which is perhaps why I keep wanting to talk about her. To share her story with the rest of the world, because she won’t do it herself. Although sometimes, she wonders how I turned into such a chatterbox. I talk. But she lives her words. Stoic and composed.
She knows I disagree with her a lot of what she says or does. And sometimes, she wishes she could save me from myself. But instead of getting worked up about it or feeling insecure about her place in my life, she challenges me to ask/look around for other points of view, all the while secure and reveling in the knowledge that I’ll come back and tell her that she was right. “I know you probably don’t like hearing this from me. But ask your friends’ mothers/colleagues/other people you know. Get a stranger/an outsider’s perspective. Try talking to them if talking to me does not make you feel any better.”
I derive comfort from her smile, as she does from mine. And there is an inexplicable joy in going up to her with a pout on my face and cribbing. She won’t always have the solution but she will usually take my side. Yes, we have our tiffs and differences. But I’m never allowed to forget that I am who I am because I have her in my life. My freedoms, my choices, my privileges, I owe them all to her.
She never set out being a mother figure. She was my play-mate, companion and confidante. The “mother” part became incidental. Being the only child, I’m often asked, “You don’t miss having a sibling around?” Honestly, I don’t. Because she spent so much time with me when I was a kid that I wasn’t really starved for company. I didn’t know of the concept of a sibling until I began going to school and was asked, “Do you have a brother or a sister?” But by then I was so spoilt that I couldn’t get myself to think of or want a sibling.
She is extremely protective of all what she holds dear. Her home, her identity, her family. The rest she has no time or concern for. She is unconventional. And proudly wears that streak on her sleeve. She is not verbose; she will tell you all that you need to know via her actions. With her, what you see is what you get. She has not the time nor the inclination for pretensions.
The father assists with the logistical support. But the mother decrees. She is the one I speed-dial five times on most days. Sometimes, only to listen to her voice. Conversations with the father are mostly about informing or updating him about various happenings. But to her, I bare my soul.
I might never be able to reciprocate or replicate all that she has done. But I hope that one day she sees in me the individual she had wanted to become.