a work in progress

Memories of Maa

Only after I became a mother, did I see the imperfections and the incredible feats in my mother’s motherhood. I never knew I aspired to be her. If you’d ask me, I’d laugh it off. But so often, I’ve wanted to raise my children the way she raised us. I mean, look how well we turned out. Ha. Ha. No but seriously.

She was my hero when it came to motherhood. 

She raised us with home made meals, fresh roti parcels everyday for school. 

We grew up to be kids who could eat just about anything on a plate. I’ve always been proud of that. 

I still remember the year we had a fundraising fair at my school, she stayed up till late making barfi and pendas, wrapping them in clear plastic and silver ribbons, so we went on to win the prize for being the best team. 

Maa was a stay-at-home mum. She took us to tennis classes and polished off our ice creams with great speed. Yes, you read that correctly. She polished off our ice creams. 

In the evenings, during our “dairy-days”, she’d read to me till she fell asleep with me on her lap. She also made the best beetroot and veggie rolls. 

I was told to stay off dairy to see if it would cure my sneezing and she was so upset, she dairy-loaded me before I had to make the switch. Then she went out of her way to find all sorts of substitutes for me. 

Mum could get pretty excited when she discovered a dish we liked. She went a bit overboard with the brown rice fried rice however, we had to give that one a break for a while. 

Apparently, there was a time when I would only eat food if it was offered to the birds as well. So she’d sit outside with me and plead with me to eat while I fed the birds. 

I remember how ballistic mum went when she discovered hickies on me. I think if she could divorce me in that moment, she may have considered it. 

I wonder how she felt when I said I wanted to dye my hair blue. I remember never relenting till she said, “Yes” and I realised shortly thereafter that I didn’t really want blue hair. Shaving was similar, however, with a different long term outcome. 

The night she discovered I wasn’t studying, but I was on MSN messenger instead. With a guy. Ouch. Her disappointment in me was so crushing.

So often, I remember running out the door with a rolled up hot roti filled with peanut butter and honey dripping from my palms. 

Her core fundamentals were books and swimming classes. All the things she never got to savour, she made sure we did (even if we didn’t really want to swim as much as she’d hoped). 

To be honest, I wonder if anyone really got my “dancing”. I did classical Indian dancing for over a decade of my life and she was my biggest champion. Hands down. 

I was upset that she kept saying, “You don’t need to learn how to cook now. There will be time for all that later.” I wanted to learn at the time. Now that I do it everyday, I understand why there wasn’t a rush. 

I was lucky. I had a mum who mostly got the things that I got. Arts, dance, Jaya Bachan and stiff cotton saris. We were both on the same page. 

We weren’t women of society. We were outliers in our own way. I never had to explain this to her. It was a silent, unspoken thing. 

That time when I called her and said, “Maa, there is this guy and I haven’t known him for long, but he wants to marry me. Hahahaha. How funny is that?”. She flew into Melbourne a week later. 

And that day, she sat with Papa at Fawkner Park, in the brutal 2007 winter cold of South Yarra and explained to him that it was time for his little girl to get married. Explained to him that they couldn’t hold a daughter back and push another forward into these things. 

I’m sure my mother-in-law still remembers the day my mother explained to her, “Karishma will do what she is told not to do.” I think from that point on, I would never be a mystery to my mother-in-law. 

V could never understand it when my mum got upset everytime he took food from my plate. In her eyes, I was still the child who refused to eat (albeit 50kgs heavier that that girl). 

I watch V rest his head on my mother’s shoulder and I know he’s found a friend, a mother, just in another desh.

She flew in at 11pm to be there for Aru’s birth moments later, my fingers wrapped tightly around her wrist, boring deep into her veins. I don’t recall much of it, but she does. 

Me? I remember every morning she arrived with food in tiffins for my healing. There was nothing she wouldn’t do for Aru and I. She watched me unravel and reform myself into a mum of my choice and stood by my side, accepting and loving me for every similar and every different choice I made. 

And watching Aru lift his brow, tilt his gaze and give her that special, “Ajima only” smile. Sigh. 

Like all mothers, my mother has her moments. 

And these are some of her finest. Because mother’s are at their finest, most extraordinary of selves in the most ordinary and the most challenging of times. 

Thank you Maa. For every trial and every tribulation. Thank you.



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1 Comment

  1. Kam Mistry

    Very beautifully said.

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