“God could not be everywhere, and therefore he made mothers.” Rudyard Kipling
International Mother’s Day falls in the month of May. It is an event to honour the contribution of mothers, acknowledge the efforts of maternal bonds, and recognise the role of mothers in our society.
Following are a couple of unforgettable memories that I cherish to this day:
I was at the Kolkata airport a long time ago. What I saw and heard will forever remain etched in my memory. My husband and I were waiting to board the Kolkata-Chennai flight, which was to leave in the next hour or so. A family of husband, wife, and two children sat themselves next to us. Of the two children, the older one was a boy and the younger one was a girl; both, I guess, must have been no more than 3 and 2 years old, respectively. I was awestruck by the rustic beauty of the dark complexioned mother of the kids. She had a big red bindi, a thick and long strip of sindoor, had applied alta on her feet, was very slim, had deep eyes, and seemed to be very attentive to her children’s movements. She herself must have been in her mid-20s. A little while later, her husband brought a small cupcake and gave it to her. Instantaneously, her children came from behind their father and jumped on to their mother’s lap one after the other.
As I sat there wondering how she would manage one small cupcake between the four of them, I saw that she cut a small portion of it with her nimble fingers and very lovingly placed it in the mouth of her daughter. I told myself, OK, this must be for the younger one only. But fortunately, that was not to be so. She cut another small portion of the cake with her nimble fingers and very lovingly placed it in the mouth of her son. Both the children kept eating small portions in turns to their hearts’ content. I felt at that moment that, despite the small size of the cake, it was very big and unending for the children, who seemed to enjoy every bite that their mother gave. Unfortunately, as per their turn, when the last bite was given to the older one, the younger one started shouting for more. Initially, this child patted her mother’s cheek, then tried to push her brother away and occupy the entire throne by herself, but when all this failed, she made use of the ultimate action, which was to cry and shout and draw everybody’s attention!
Being the experienced mother that she was, she uttered something in her son’s ear. The next thing I saw was that the boy got out of his mother’s lap and jumped onto his father’s. Surely the mother knew the trick. Now it was time for the mother to attend to her little daughter. She gave her some water to drink, wiped her tears, cleaned her mouth, laid her on her lap, and covered her with her saree pallu. She rocked her child, all the while looking at her through her saree. A few moments later, the rocking was accompanied by a soft lullaby. It was at this time that I observed that the crying of the child had stopped completely and that the mother was totally engrossed in her child. For the mother, at that point in time, no one else mattered but her child. For the child, the lullaby was a never-ending song of comfort, happiness, and being. For me, it was an unforgettable moment. No moment could be more beautiful.
“A mother’s arms are made of tenderness, and children sleep soundly in them.” Victor Hugo
The other everlasting memory is about schoolchildren.
Quite some time ago, a neighbour of mine requested that I accompany her to her kids’ school to drop them off in the morning and then pick them up in the afternoon—for just two days. As I was free (and willing), I was happy to do so.
For someone like me who is at home during the day, it was a pleasant surprise to see so many kids in my compound getting into vehicles of various sorts—school buses, taxis, pool cars, and cars driven by dads. The place was bustling with activity. The kids, of course, were smartly dressed in their uniforms. There was, interestingly, one kid who was dressed as a princess in a beautiful pink frock with pink laces on it and silvery shoes that glistened in the sun. She also wore a tiara to complete the outfit. When I asked her mother the reason, I was told that she was to read aloud in the class her favourite character story. What a fabulous idea to bring the character of the princess alive for the other kids in her class! It was such a lovely sight to see our beautiful little princess so enthusiastic about the prospects of her assignment.
So my neighbour, her two kids, and I drove down through not-so-heavy traffic. On getting closer to the school, I was surprised to see a total chaos of vehicles, with each one trying to get near the ‘drop-off’ section. The idea, I guess, was to ensure that their kids would get into the school (with their super heavy school bags) without any hassle.
The afternoon scenario was pretty much the same: chaotic traffic, kids getting into their respective vehicles (with their super heavy school bags), honking, and the drive back home.
What followed will remain etched in my memory. As we entered our compound, I saw mothers with smiling faces waiting to greet their kids. The kids themselves were extremely delighted and ran into the open arms of their loving mothers. While one kid was honoured in the school with a ‘star-of-the-week’ badge for good behaviour, another was chosen as the monitor of the class. I am sure there would have been many more such happy narrations by these kids all the way into their homes and thereafter.
This reunion of the kids with their mothers on their return from school has left an indelible mark on my spirit. There is so much beauty in the moments that comprise the kids setting their eyes on their mothers. I had captured that blissful moment in time that seemed to permeate the very essence of life.
I got back home with a story in mind pouring out of an ounce of inspiration that hit me, and I thought, “As a child, I did the same.” So many important memories were made during the grand and small instances of me getting back home as a school kid and jumping into my mother’s arms, which were perennially filled with warmth and love.
This is the most rewarding part of being a child—and of being a mother.
I would simply call it the Kodak moment of unconditional love.
I missed my mother. Irrespective of age, we miss our mother. No one can take the place of a mother. NOBODY…
Ma, I know you will continue to bless me from above.