Can We Do it all Over Again, Ma?

I begin writing now with a heart full of warmth and a soul full of thankfulness.

Undoubtedly, this is going to be the best of the memoirs that Pages from Serendipity has seen so far!

I often think why our brains store so many memories when only so little of it is recollected in the entire lifetime. As a matter of fact, we don’t even realize how big a heap of it is lying over our heads. Now, imagine we begin to dig every nook and corner of our memory chips!

That’s what I did!

I tried to recollect incidents and their impressions from my past, as deep as I could. Certainly, it was a soothing journey, for the nicest of persons had surrounded me all through it. Difficult times weren’t truly difficult, for her love had overwhelmed them oftentimes. To put simply, past seemed bliss, for mom was in all of it! It was as though her invisible shadow followed me all through the path, for her role was too subtle to get noticed. Yet, she didn’t direct my direction. She was just present; walked with me when I walked; ran with me when I ran and stopped when I stopped.

Today, when I look back, I am unable to ignore these serious questions:

 Then what was her journey about?

Where was her path?

Did she not have a direction of her own?

Silence was the answer. Perhaps, my path became her’s. My journey veiled her’s. She made me climb the ladder while she didn’t step even onto the lowest rung. And most astoundingly, she managed to grow me to an expert in spite of her in-expertness.

From the ocean of my reminiscences, here I spill a few drops!

My First Bicycle Ride

I vividly remember my first cycle ride. Amma walked 1km along with me to make sure I am riding safe. And I was flying within as though I was driving a  Boeing 747. But it was several days before I started to learn to ride on my own. It was one of the most difficult tasks of my childhood. I remember, every evening after I returned back home from school, Amma would patiently walk with me, holding my cycle. One day, I dropped the cycle on the road and ran back home crying because I couldn’t balance on myself even after several days of learning. Every time I lost hope, Amma picked me up and made me continue trying.

Today, as I recollect this memory, I realize that, ironically, Amma had never learnt riding cycle all her life. In fact, she couldn’t learn to drive a two-wheeler because she hasn’t learnt to balance herself in a cycle. May be I should have tried to make her learn. It would have taken just a few days of time. She could have been independent if she knew driving. Till today, she depends on dad for visiting even a nearby shop. Did I miss to do something, Ma?

My First Enid Blyton Book

When I was in class seven, our class timetable included a Library period, twice a week. That’s where I began reading one of the Enid Blyton books. They are amazing children mystery novels and I was especially crazy about the Secret Seven series. But I could hardly read a few pages during my library hours. Reading a mystery series with so many breaks was boring. When I told this to Ma, she insisted dad to take me to Mount Road Higginbothams and Nungambakam Landmark from where I made my first collection of books. She used to sit along with me everyday in the terrace or garden to make me read. And soon I was a reading expert! I would finish Secret Seven, Famous Five, Nancy Drew and Hardy Boys, all in a week and Amma didn’t mind to take me again to the bookstore. That’s how she instilled the reading habit in me. The book reviewer side of me owes to what she did years ago.

However, I’ve never seen Amma reading, not even a newspaper or a magazine. I assumed that may be reading didn’t interest her. But recently, she liked the book blurb behind one of the books I was reading and she began reading it. Amused seeing her read for the first time, I asked her if she likes to read. She said she had always loved to read though amidst looking after home and taking care of us, she didn’t get the right motivation to sit alone with a book. I was shocked to hear her reveal a secret that I didn’t even bother to know all through the years. If only we have given her a little time and push, she would have enjoyed doing what she liked to do. Why was I ignorant of your interests, Ma?

My First western Outfit

Brought up in an ordinary, 1980s southern middle class family, I wore only frocks and skirt-tops during my growing-up years. Wearing jeans pants and trousers were considered modern, western outfit those days. And I never wore one. Once, during my class eight summer vacation, Ma and I had to travel to Hyderabad by train. A neighbour suggested me to wear cotton trousers for a comfortable train journey. Though I was shy, Amma bought a pair and made me wear. It feels funny today to recollect that I didn’t like my new version that I saw on the mirror and was timid to even come out of my room. Amma had to repeatedly reassure that I looked fine to make me break my shell. If not for that day and for Amma’s constant whispers into my ears, I would have remained old-fashioned. Certainly, none other could have given that confidence and courage to me during such times of life.

Paradoxically, she has worn only sarees all her life. Many women of her generation including my aunts became comfortable wearing salwar khameez at their thirties but Amma couldn’t brave out of her traditional sarees. May be she needed a reassuring word like how I needed from her. She is planning for a long trip in a few months and now at age sixty, she desires to wear a salwar khameez though she is still thinking about buying one. May be I should have made her try one, years before. Why did I remain oblivious to your simple needs and desires, Ma?

My First Job

At the age of twenty, six months before I graduated, I had an offer letter from a fortune 500 company in my hand. Certainly, campus interviews are a blessing! However, the job offer was at Hyderabad, miles away from my place and in a field I am totally unaware of. It was my call to accept it or not. Yet another time when Amma pulled me hard out of my well. I had eight months time before I could join the job. During all those indecisive moments, I clearly remember, Amma often quoted this saying, ‘A ship in the harbour is safe but that’s not what ships are built for’. It was a time when she made me realize how much of life lay ahead of me and how important it is for me to break free of mental stoppages. Till date, I consider joining that job a great stepping stone to both my career and the development of my personality.

With the myriads of changes and developments happening in my own life, I hardly remember giving a thought about Amma’s career. As a graduate with excellent communication skills, she could have made a perfect fit for a teaching position or a public relationship role very well. However, her responsibilities towards home, family and children kept her far away from a potential career all along. I deeply regret today for her choice of a stay-at-home mom as much as she does. Sometimes, I’ve seen that longing in her eyes while she sees a woman walking on the road carrying a handbag. Is there anything I can do about it now, Ma?

The more I recollect my memories with Amma, the more I realize how her years were taken for granted for the family needs. I deeply wish that life gave me a second chance; to go back to the past and make a difference in her life. I would teach her to ride a bicycle so that she can proudly drive my two-wheeler. I would explore her interests and give her time and encouragement to read books and do things that she liked to do. I would become her mother to bring her out of her girlish timidness. I would create a career for her. And much more….!

If only life gave me a second chance, I wish we can do it all over again, Ma 🙁

Thank you, Gorej Expert. I owe you the reminiscences of my touching memories with Amma and their deep insights it gave on me!

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