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Love Of A Mother

October 26, 2016

Family and friends back home are busy making the Deepavali bakshanams from laddoos to mysore pas and halwas to jalebis apart from muruku and mixtures.

Asked my sis what she is doing this year and she said she commenced making sweets a week earlier.

This year she has changed her pattern.

Everyday for 2 weeks she has decided to make a single sweet for her teenage sons along with a savoury and today is her halwa day.

She finishes off by 3 pm or so by which time the boys come home – the eldest one from college and the youngest from high school. Not a single click of picture is possible, lamented she, because even before the sweets could cool or set in, the boys ravish the day’s sweets polishing off completely the plate not even leaving scraps/crumbs.

I remember when we were young, Diwali celebrations would be mooted from one month before. It was the highlight of our lives. Right from August end, we kids would think of nothing but the D-day.

I asked my sis why she decided on making so many sweets and she said, ‘how long our children are going to be with us? Only until university. Then they go out for higher studies or work…. will they ever get to eat mother’s cooking?’

Very few women can understand or sense other people’s hunger and my sister is one such blessed. In fact I remember I never let my son go hungry when he was in school/college. Used to feeding him before his hunger pangs started. I sincerely wish (among other things) he gets a wife who can cook nicely and feed him.  (You may call me a sexist but this is what every mom wants for her son from the bottom of her heart). This year on a vacation from US he confessed how much he missed my food and fussing.

I have blogged earlier on Diwali so don’t wanna repeat old stories.

But there are a few incidents to recall.

In my childhood, sweet preparation always started 10 days prior to Diwali. We made drums and drums for distribution everywhere.

The custom in our house was that, we offered daily any food/sweet first to Goddess Annapurna (whose department is foodgrains/food) and then to the crows in the upper terrace. Only then we could touch food. The crows, we were told, were our ‘pitrus’ who waited eagerly everyday for our food.

Even evening tiffins like pakoras, we offered first to the crows. The crows would have by then flown to their nests but we still left morsels of food for the crows in the terrace before we ate.

Even in such strict conditions/upbringing, I remember my sis stealing laddoos, vadas etc even on festive occasions before we could offer the gods ‘prasad’ (or neivedhyam). My granny would never miss anything but pretended always as if she did not notice.

There was only one bicycle in my house. My sis used it for school in the day. My sis never ate lunch at school. She never packed lunch for school all her life. She always would want piping hot food so she would cycle home for the lunch hour to have hot, hot food at home. Food should not even be lukewarm. She joined B.Com, evening college for the same reason. Day scholar means you have to pack lunch to college which she did not want to. Evening college meant, she had hot food at home for lunch before leaving for college and she could be back home again for hot dinner.

I can’t believe this is the same girl.

The most tearful memory for me is the ‘karyam’ of my mother as she passed away. The religious ceremonies were over and the food was cooked by many relatives in our home. (no hotel catering in those days especially for family/religious occasions.). It was time to place food in front of my mother’s newly framed and garlanded photo as offering. My sis who was fasting (like me) from morning couldn’t bear it as it was already past 2 pm when the ceremonies had got over. As usual she stole a vada and started eating. She was younger than me and in that young school age, she hadn’t yet realized her monumental loss.

A relative caught her biting the vada and exclaimed, how my little sis never felt any emotion or sadness for our mother. My granny looked up and there were tears in all our eyes. Forgetting that it was a solemn ceremony, the closing one, my father’s side relatives started gossiping about my sister’s behaviour. For many years among relative circle, the event was retold: how the 11 year old girl did not wait for offering food to her mother who had just passed away and was selfish to sneakily eat the vada. How the girls lacked affection and were already beyond control, were not brought-up the right way, how the father, the widower faced an insurmountable task with raising the girls the proper way as troubling times lay ahead.

A lot we went through after that: today I see the same girl cooking up a veritable feast every single day in her kitchen. She can even serve lunch to 60-80 guests at a time, cooking without help. Without touching a morsel of food to eat for herself. How many guests from husband’s side she receives. How much service to humanity on both sides of family. How much she works rising at 4 am every morning.

When I was visiting her last time, a neighbour said, ‘your sister is working hard like anything. all 24 hours she is toiling working at home and outside. ask her to take care.’

Moved by what I heard. I know without anyone telling me.

This is what motherhood is all about. In my mind is printed the little 11 year girl in frock eating the vada in our mother’s Karyam ceremony. Her innocence, her impatience, her hunger pangs…

Today that very girl is happy just serving her family feast after feast, sweet after sweet, loaded with love. Not taking a single bite of anything because even that last portion she would rather have her sons eating out of her hands…




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