By Biraj Dixit:
‘Mother’ - the word, the person, the institution, the tradition - will soon get inundated on a particular day with applaud for being what it has been for ages. In the world where it is getting rarer to acknowledge what one truly sees, one full day of acknowledgement and eulogy is indeed wholesome and lovely even for the high office of a ‘mother’. Soon enough mothers would reclaim their position as most special. Salutations would smile through selfies and such selfies would shine in day-long ‘status’. Fond recollections fine-tuned in poetic words would find their way on the so many ‘walls’. Floods of messages would inundate the world.
A whole day of admiration for a life-time of ceaseless work! Well-deserving, isn’t it? An old wisdom, however, says that when crescendo peaks, the music is in highest danger to go out of tune. That, they say, is true for civilisation and culture of admiration too. Just a word of caution from the yore – that the soul of music is tune and not the crescendo; and that tune itself gains its soul from continuous rendition. So, I think it would be wise to match the rhythm of thoughts to calmer, slower and saner beats of heart and mind to churn out a lasting tribute to the institution of ‘motherhood’, much before the frenzy takes the world over. Mothers, too, like ageless music, triumph not in eulogies, but in continuity and fine rendition. They are a tradition unto themselves - a tradition of love, of life and of the ways of wise living, a tradition world is forgetting to follow. This forgetfulness will have a price - a huge one, I fear.
“Her eyes are homes of silent prayers…” Sir Alfred Lord Tennyson’s line almost always brings to my mind only her face - tensed with the load of life, smiling with faith, plucking happiness from everywhere; where hope floated most tenderly, effortlessly, unwaveringly and unwearyingly. My mother taught me to have faith, not in religious ceremonies and philosophical words but in small, repeated actions. “One step at a time,” she would say. Faith has, since, been my strongest armour. One step at a time, and I march on… Then, I remember her sitting beside her mother recalling instances of hard life, small triumphs and faith. As the two women recalled instances of glory of our family, I collected my entitlements. Now, I shall bequeath those to my daughter.
Family tales, smaller and bigger, must be told. For, they sow seeds of faith. They set traditions. They put forth precedence. They carry the strength of motherhood forward. I had a happy childhood in so much as my mother had all the time to speak to me and I had all the time to listen. Nothing academic and yet it was thorough education. Those were the days of two-hour television including half an hour of news. Yet, my mother was enormously worried about its effects on brain, eyes and on her child’s psyche. Why, schools made us write essays on ‘ill-effects of television” and “Television- a boon or a curse!” Then, the world became smarter and took away conversations between family members. Oh, but what better prime time than an open-hearted conversation with your Mumma?
Conversation, since civilisation, has been humanity’s greatest tradition. It involves lot of art and craft. One must learn it early and keep practising it. And what better place to practise than home! Once, a mother found a buttonless shirt of her son lying in the hallway. Her son, after one more fight with his wife, had thrown it there in a fit of rage. After the initial storm had passed, he needed some peace. He found his mother in her room stitching button to his shirt. Sitting on her bed he looked at his mother and asked, “How did your generation stay happily married for entire life?” “Our philosophy was simple,” she said, “We did not believe in throwing away.
We mended whatever was broken,” she said handing over the son his shirt. While reading this little story in a book, I thought of the amount of garbage that we have created in and around us just because we could not mend. Throwing away, the easiest solution, is actually no solution. Our economic surge not withstanding we must learn how to value, how to not throw away, how to mend everything around us. Mending means preserving and preserve, we must, for a richer legacy. We owe it our parents and theirs and theirs. We owe it to our own sense of pride and well-being. But again this is not only about a tradition.
The amount of garbage that we create, within and without, by not mending can drown us to extinction. It is not just about upholding a great tradition. It is about survival. One more great tradition, all mothers’ pride, being fast thrown out of the kitchen window is our rich legacy of culinary skills. No amount of Swiggys and Zomatos can bring home the health and richness of family recipes. Perfected through years of practice with a good eye on health benefits, family recipes also hold key to family happiness. They must, thus, be passed from one generation to next and to next.
So, this Mother’s Day, before we adorn our life’s many screens with the mandatory, obligatory ‘Love you, Mom’ messages, let’s take a deep breath and remember all that means ‘Mom’ - the flavours of early morning tea, the numerous choices for breakfast, irritation of an unclean room, the short prayer on seeing a funeral procession, the stab in the heart before telling a lie, neatly folding paper bags for later use, listening to your child’s endless blabber after a day’s hard work, telling your child tales of your strict father and how you gained under his watch, breaking into effortless smile as your child leaves your hand to race and hug her grandmother. As we rejoice in Mother’s Day celebration, let us also keep in mind our rich legacy and wisdom of continuous rendition.