This one's for you, mom


This one's for you, mom
‘You would never forget to bless me’

Dear ammi,

Whenever I thread a needle, I can’t help but recall a moment, profoundly attached to this mundane chore. When I was a child, you had asked me to thread a needle. Caring little for the insufficient light in the room, I did it in seconds. With a glint in your eyes and smile on your lips, you had said, “how fast and easily you do that…you are young and have power in your eyes.” Though I could not understand much, I was happy to help.

Now, I often think of how you drifted into old age, much ahead of time. The onset of Parkinson’s disease, coupled with dad’s demise, had pushed you into depression. When you walked you looked around to see if somebody was there to lend support in case you stumbled. Stiffening of joints made it difficult for you to maintain your balance while walking. In a matter of years, you had transformed into someone much older and weaker. The weaning body mass and gaunt frame made you look so different; photographs clicked not more than a couple of years ago seemed decades old. It was difficult to mask my worry when bangles on your emaciated hands moved till your elbows. I helplessly watched you drift into your second childhood. 

For all the pains you took to raise your five children single-handedly, we knew this was the perfect time to return the love and kindness you had showered on us all our lives. But you never demanded it. It seemed like a part of you writhed in pain, every time you were helped. I remember how you would sympathise with me on days when I gave you a bath and helped you get dressed. You would say, “I am making you work, it is better if I leave fast.” My eyes would well up and I would reply, “Ammi, do you know how blessed I feel to help you? Didn’t you do more for me when I was small? Now it is my turn.” You would never forget to bless me with a prayer, truly a priceless reward for me. There would be a faint smile on your lips, but I could see that you were distressed.

I know that you wished to cook for your children, that you yearned to take your grandchildren in your arms, and that you desired so much more. I can’t imagine how you must have felt being confined to the bed for a greater part of the day, or being wheeled around in your wheelchair – something your granddaughters loved doing. We would often hear you say, “I wish God calls me before I become further indisposed.” Your failing health had snatched away much of your personal charm; those lovely sarees had made way for salwar kurtas.

But the one thing that never changed was your love for us. Remember how you would automatically begin to stroke my head whenever I kept it in your lap? You would never forget to ask if we had eaten, before you took a morsel yourself. Even during your illness, you remained concerned about the well being of your children.

God was listening to you. And one fine day, last May, you passed away very peacefully and gracefully. Your desire of leaving for the hereafter before you come down with any other major health issues was duly granted. And you had eaten your last meal with your own hands…

Miss you Shazman

(Shazman Shariff is a freelance writer)

‘I want to believe in humanity, like you did’

Dear umma,

When I lost you in 1999, it was the biggest shock of my life. I never thought I would lose you so early, though you always said that you would die at 61. How did you know? When I look back, I realise that you always seemed to know what was in store; things always happened the way you said they would…

You know, I wanted the first page of my autobiography (Shabdatharampadam) to be a regret note to you and appa. But I finally decided against it because I wasn’t sure how the readers would construe it. So, I simply dedicated the book to you both.

I regret the fact that you didn’t live to see my so-called success. They call me the most successful technician in the country, but it means nothing to me. Because the one person who actually believed all this was possible, isn’t here with me. If it weren’t for you, I may very well have become a lawyer. Remember how you dissuaded me saying that lawyers are liars, and like crows in their black coats! You were the first to say ‘yes’ to me joining the film institute. I’ll never forget how you always believed in me.

Though I’m not as fair and good-looking as you, people say that I’ve got your jawline. I think I’ve also imbibed your hardworking, resilient and benevolent nature. Like you, I, too, take people at face value. Sure, it does land me in trouble at times. But that’s okay. I want to believe in humanity, like you did.

When I think of you, umma, I think of all those mornings when I would hold on to the goat’s legs while you milked it to make tea for all of us. I tried doing it with my daughter when we visited our village this time, and you know what? She cried, just like I used to, thinking that we were robbing the goat of its milk! Children are God’s way of giving us back our parents.

When I look at my children, I realise how hard you worked to give us (ten siblings) a better life. I remember you would take us along for every wedding in the family and introduce us to members of the extended family. I try to do the same with my children, for how else will they know their relatives? In today’s age of nuclear families, we barely know our neighbours. We are all so alone. We never quite felt that way back at home in the village.

In their teens, perhaps, all children wish for cooler parents. I did, too. But today I want to tell you that I’m blessed to have you for my mother. I wouldn’t want to change that for the world. Even today, I can feel your presence in the room where you did namaz five times a day, daily. There are so many things I want to thank you for – your values, your
unconditional love, your forgiveness. But more than anything else, I want thank you for trusting me.

(Resul Pookutty is an Oscar-winning film sound designer, sound editor and mixer)

‘Eternally grateful’

My darling mumma,

This is the first time I am writing to you. Sure, I used to make cards for you and dad on birthdays and anniversaries...but this letter is not like that. I wish to share a few thoughts from the bottom of my heart, some things that I’ve never shared with you before, things that I always knew, but never expressed to you.

Do you remember the times when I used to compete in international dance championships and modelling contests? I would always get nervous and literally shiver before appearing on stage. And you would say, “Have faith, Sandip. Believe in yourself, in God, your family and friends. Because if you have faith, nothing is impossible, you can achieve anything you want.”

Back then, I didn’t really understand you. I would think, mom’s lecture has started again! But today, I want to thank you for the lesson you gave me for life. Now when I visit prestigious events and perform in front of high-profile people all over the world, I always remember you and your comforting, encouraging words.   

There are so many things that I am eternally grateful to you for. First for letting me choose dance as a profession. You went against all odds to get me admission in the dance school and then, fought with almost all the relatives and family members, who believed that I should join the Army like dad. Dad, too, was upset with you, and for months, there was this strange cold war between you two loving souls.

And then, there was the next big bomb I dropped on the family – my desire to adopt a child. I was not married then, and being a single father was just not the norm, still you believed in my belief and supported me unconditionally. Though many of our close relatives refused to give their reference letters for home study report and also did not appear in court to support me, you were totally unaffected. You travelled to Mumbai from Pune by train, bus and then, walked for miles for the court hearing, even when the city was submerged in the rains! Today, Arjun is 10 and the years have flown by without any glitches, but I’ll never forget how you were there for me when I needed you the most.

Another thing I adore about you is the fact that you never forced any religious beliefs on me. Given that dad is a staunch Gujarati and you a South Indian, you believed that inter-caste and inter-religious marriages make for better future, stronger bonds and dynamic babies. When I fell in love with Jesse, a Sikh girl, you were the first person I told. Unlike my friends in similar situations, I had no reservations because I knew you would be happy for me. Your philosophy that it’s love and not religion that keeps people together is something I try to follow, too.

Ma, in this busy entertainment industry that I choose to be a part of, I know that many a times I don’t get to talk to you or even return your calls on time. But that doesn’t mean I don’t care for you and your wellbeing. Whatever I am today is only because of you and all the hard work you put into making my dreams come true. I know there are many children who cannot talk to their parents freely, but I feel like the chosen one to have found my best friend in my mother.

Love you mommy... tight hugs and kisses

(Sandip Soparrkar is an internationally-renowned choreographer and dancer)

‘What it means to be a mother...’

Dear mom,

I am writing this letter to thank you for all that you have done for us – things that, as children in your shelter and care, we didn’t really understand. It was only when I became a mom that I could truly understand and appreciate the enormous amount of work that you put in for us. Now I know that being a mother is the most selfless role one can play in her life, and I want to thank you for playing this role in mine, for being my support when I was low, for being around when I was stressed, for being my shopping buddy and for being the disciplining influence in my life.

From childhood scoldings to the serious discussions about life, you have guided me at each and every step. Today when I look at my baby growing up, I realise what it means to be a mother, the extent of love and care that goes into each day. I deeply feel that having a teacher for a mom influences children in more ways than one and prepares them for the ultimate success in life. You taught me the importance of time, of duty, of becoming a lady who fulfils all her roles with ease and a smile.

I miss the food you made with love for us, especially as an exam incentive! I miss chatting with you, with your

cuddly hand on my head. I miss spending quality time with you. But I want you to know one thing that’ll never change: No matter the physical distance or the busy schedules that life challenges us with, you are and will remain the creator of my life!

I am sorry if you feel that I spend less time with you, but I want you to know that you figure in my heart and prayers all the time. Please forgive me if I have in any way hurt you, or not paid attention to what you may be saying for my benefit…but at the bottom of my being is just love for you and papa, and I owe my entire life, my personality to you both!

Had you not taught me to be strong and smile under tough situations, I would not have got the magic smile that everyone keeps appreciating. Nothing comes automatically; it comes because someone invested time and love in it. You are the foundation stone of my being, and on this Mother’s Day, I want to say it loud and clear: For each day when you couldn’t sleep because of me, for the huge chunk of your life that you dedicated entirely to me, for bestowing me with way more than I feel I deserved, I love you mom and always will. You are my greatest blessing!
Love you

(Priyanka Khurana Goyal is Mrs India 2015)

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