A survey somewhere has shown “mother” to be the most beautiful word in the English language. As I watched the new ticker scroll below the main scene of the Headline Today program, I found myself waiting for that particular bit of information to pass by yet again.
“Mother”, to most of us she is, as the Guns’n’Roses song so nicely puts it, “the one safe place where I can hide”.
Think as I might, there is no single image that defines my mother to me.
My father is defined by a very clearly remembered incident. I was very young, at the age when everybody’s hips were higher than my head. We were walking down some street in Mumbai, and suddenly he wasn’t there. An almost unspeakable fear gripped my heart. I turned around and around and around, but I couldn’t see him. Even today, when I close my eyes, I see all those black trousers passing me by, but where was my father? Then he popped out, from behind a wall where he had been hiding a watching me. His face lit up like a Christmas tree, and relief flooded me. And that is how it has always been, every time I thought I was lost, he’d pop out from behind a wall, his smile intact, as relief would flood me.
My sister still holds the spot for “most confident person I have ever met”, to this day. “Spell Constantinople”, my mother asked me. I hesitated and hesitated, stopping a hundred times to see that I was spelling right. “Tessy, spell Constantinople”, mummy said. “K-O-N-T-P-L-E”, end of spelling. The entire thing would be done nonchalantly, and it would be over before you could react. I see the way she handles her son, and I can’t help but think how lucky he is to have her for a mother. Very early in his life he has learnt that confidence is half the battle won. She is tearing her hair out, but she brought in on herself – good for her.
Vijay is a part of my life that I cannot talk of without getting all emotional. He is the strongest of all of us. But he wasn’t always that. He was a kid who grew up, and took his place in life and no one even realized it. Through all this, I remained “chetta”, and through the lowest times in my life, I have pulled out the letter he wrote me, each time it gives me further cause to keep going.
But nothing defines “mummy”. There is no sequence, or event, or statement that for me says, “Mother”.
But in more ways than one, every moment of my life is a statement on her. Every step I take, every move I make, I word I speak, is hers. She gave me more than what anybody else ever did, she gave me myself.
Donny Osmond put it best when he sang,
“Mother of mine you gave to me
All of things to do as i please
I owe everything i have to you
Mother sweet mother of mine.”
“Mother you gave me happiness
Much more than words could say
I pray to god that he may bless you every night and day…
Mother of mine you are the best
You are the one that i love the most
I thank the lord who gave you to me mother sweet mother of mine.”