Mother’s Day Stories: ‘Without Mum, I wouldn’t be the woman I am.’
Although it was a love marriage, Mum and Dad lived and worked in different states at opposite ends of the country for many years. Why? For the upbringing of me and my sister. We didn’t really understand, back then, that this large geographical distance was helping to ensure a certain level of financial stability within our family. We didn’t consider what our parents were sacrificing for the benefit of their daughters’ future.
Mum may have mentioned it on rare occasions – such as comments made in the heat of the moment when her young daughters were making mischief and overstepping the mark: “Do you realise how hard it is for me to look after you girls without your father here by my side?!” she would say, in a moment of frustration where she would once again have to take sole responsibility for our discipline. My sister and I would be made to stand in silence, out on the street outside our home, so that anybody passing by the gate would be aware of the misdemeanor that we had been part of – like cutting all the hair from the head of one of the dogs; or stealing the sweets that had been hidden in the cupboard for Diwali.
But for most of the time Mum would keep these feelings hidden from us to maintain at least some measure of harmony within the home. I don’t remember ever seeing her cry due to the distance between her and Dad, but I’m sure there must have been some – and it would have broken her daughters’ hearts to have seen Mum crying.
At times I have been described as “fiercely independent” and there is little doubt about which person influenced this trait in me. For long periods of time, Mum had no choice but to be both the woman and the man of the house.
So when one of her daughters (yes, me!) had been misled on the doorstep – and foolishly handed over the monthly expenses to a crook pretending to collect for an injured donkey charity – it was Mum who chased that man down the street, holding him by the throat up against a wall until he returned every rupee of her hard-earned pay.
Mum shows that independence even now. But I think it has softened now that – after retirement – she can finally be together with Dad, and feel content that the difficult years where she gave up so much were eventually worth it. Without Mum’s influence, inspiration and generosity, I wouldn’t be the woman I am.
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