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thus “Mother of mine you gave to me, all of my life to do as I please, I owe everything I have to you, Mother sweet Mother of mine.” At that age I did not think too much about it, except as a song that we had to learn to sing. Over the years, Amma (as I call my mother) and I shared a relationship very different from that many children have with their mother today - different yet interesting. Today, as a 45 year old woman, I look back in wonder at the way my relationship with Amma has evolved. A mother-daughter relationship is unique in the sense that it is shaped by both the people in the relationship as well as the environment and people around over the years. As the external influences wax and wane, as the family size grows and expands then shrinks, this relationship moves from one strength to another. My relationship with Amma had multiple hues, as it went through the phases of love, devotion, respect, indifference, dependence, apathy and at a point in time even bordered on hostility. To begin with Amma was a working mom, when there were few mothers who went to work. Hailing from a large middle class family from Bangalore, she moved to Rourkela after she married my father an employee of the Rourkela Steel Plant. As a young mother of 3 children, away from familiar surroundings she had to start afresh in the new town, even learn a new language to communicate. Determined to provide a better future for us children, she took up job at the Rourkela Steel Plant. She started learning Hindi by going through our text books. Amma would juggle home and work, working 6 days a week. She had limited support from my grandmother and father, but that did not deter her. Not that it was smooth sailing, she had her good days and bad days. She would be up early at 5:00 AM. She would cook breakfast and as well as lunch by 8:00 AM. Having sent us off to school, she would leave for work by 8:30AM with my father. We would get back home by 3:30 PM after school. She would be back home at 5:30 PM. After going through the newspaper over tea, she would start cooking dinner and simultaneously help us with homework. It would be 9:00 PM by the time she would call it a day. Her work and home kept her engaged to the extent that she did not socialise much, of which I was very critical. As a child I admired her as a person who rose above all odds to achieve what she set out to do. And then there were times we would compare her with other moms who were home makers and criticise her for not being there when we got home from school. As we grew up we became obstinate and cocky. As a teenager, I would put my relationship with friends, sister and brother first. Everyone seemed to be right except her. I clearly remember times when we would get into arguments simply because we would have different opinions on everything we discussed and neither of us was
Then it gradually changed. She found time to discuss situations that keep arising in her life that brought with it joy or sorrow. Big fan of cricket. The house that we always thought we owned. She would rejoice with us in our joys and shed tears during our sorrows. did I re-discover my relationship with Amma. when I would make the mandatory phone call from the phone booth. She still gets up at 5 am and takes her daily walk to the temple with unfailing regularity to keep fit and healthy. She would listen when I spoke and would speak very little. Managing finances and saving for future was a lesson she taught by example. I am more accommodating and even joke with her about letting go. She would be upset and distressed. I had never seen her paint her nails or use lipstick. Distance made me value the little things she did for me. My mother was at their receiving end but she handled it well. At 72. I wonder how a simple woman could adapt so much and embrace everything life has dealt her with a smile and some tears. My husband and I would meet my parents for lunch on Saturday and they would join us for breakfast on Sunday. In early 1990’s when I turned a single working woman . rather than get married early. She decided to relocate to the same town I worked. went into litigation and had to be given up. Then she retired and was ready to move into her own house tragedy struck. She had put her children’s happiness and needs before hers always. Thus began a new phase in our relationship.alone in an alien place. but she had the most clear wonderful skin and black hair that did not turn grey till her 60’s. much to the annoyance of relatives back in south. I could find time to communicate with her only on weekends. When my brother at last decided to get married at the age of 37. It is on her insistence that I would agree take an ‘oil bath’ every Saturday and use the shikakai for shampoo till I went to boarding college out of town. Even today she worries about me as she did ages ago.willing to relent. Today I only smile when people complement my skin or my dark hair. and is full of advice on what I should do. I went away college for my post graduation. Ever willing to learn and adjust she still slowly discusses . And then I got married to the man I fell in love with. heartbroken. even when we were hurtful. She patiently stood by me as I negotiated my way amongst my new family and learnt to adjust to a different life. As a young IT professional I decided take up a job in another town. to live in my sister’s house. but none of us kids were sensitive to it I guess. she decided she had completed all her duties. She trusted me and believed that I would go to her to discuss any thing that bothers me . Soon I wanted her to speak so that I could listen. but my reaction to it has changed. I soon realised that my relationship with her had undergone a change. She stood by me when I decided to pursue higher education and be a professional. she has seen the game change from radio commentary of long 5 day matches to televised season of IPL. she still cooks great food at home and would not let anyone do it. Her monthly VPF savings grew to a significant amount upon her retirement.
By the way the song poem ‘Mother of mine ‘ ended thus Mother you gave me happiness.a pillar. my conscience. This echoes my view about Amma and hence this article. All of a sudden you while reading the book. Read them again and again and each time discover something new. Today we share a much relaxed relationship and are more patient with each other. And is how I discovered the person Amma is.how IT makes a difference in daily life. much more than words can say. get to know them slowly with time. confidant. . every night and every day. I thank the lord let me breath with you. Mother of mine now I am grown and I can walk straight all on my own. For me Amma is a best friend just as classics are man’s best friend. what Amma stands for . I'd like to give you what you gave to me. I can indeed call my Amma a true best friend. listening post. The books are there for you to discover them. Mother sweet Mother of mine. at your own pace. you end up finding whole new meaning. teacher and above all my mother. who has stood with me through thick and thin all through these years. when you want. my devil’s advocate.