It is not Mother’s day; it is not my mother’s birthday either. There is no special occasion as such. But I just feel like writing about my mother. It was last year that I wrote about my father. At that time I never thought I would write about my mother some day as well. It seemed unnecessary, almost repetitive if I were to write about her. But for the past few days I have been thinking so much about her that I just have to write about her.
It is really hard to describe our relation – from the beginning I mean, the highly complicated relation that it has been. It must have been a regular, normal mother-little daughter relation until I turned 7 I guess. I don’t have many clear memories of those days with my mother, although there are a few. One is of her teaching me “creepers and climbers” when I was doing second grade. Another is of her taking me in her arms after I accidentally turned on the car after sitting in there listening to my favourite song. Ah! The shock I got when the engine whirred and the sense of security when I jumped into her arms. I remember another day when we were travelling in the car and the door at my side got opened somehow. She jumped to get hold of me crying “My baby!”. There was an extremely terrified look on her face that I can recall. That seems about it. I can’t really think of anything else right now. It is strange that I have so few memories with her, although she was there all the time.
I remember being more attached to my father always. Maybe it was because he stayed away from us and when he came home for his holidays he hardly ever used to scold me. On the other hand, my mother had to scold me and my brother every now and then for getting into a fight. So naturally I had a bias towards the sweeter parent, my father. But I didn’t hate my mother in those days. That started after an unfortunate incident, or rather a series of incidents when I was 7 years old – something that ripped me of my childhood and all the innocence associated with it. My reaction was to blame my mother – the parent who stayed with me and was supposed to protect me. I didn’t want to think of logic, I was too young to perhaps. And there started my hatred for my mother. It was almost like I jumped at an opportunity to hate her, like I was always looking for a chance to.
All through my teen years I went on hating her, finding faults with whatever she did. My sole aim in life was to not become anything like her. In a way, we were always different. But there was a part of me that was so scared I would end up being like her that I was always deliberately trying to do things differently from the way she would do them. While reading “Things Fall Apart” by Chinua Achebe during my college days, I was so able to relate myself to Okonkwo who went on struggling all his life to be different from his father and ended up just like him. The prospect of being like her terrified me. Others saw these fights as a regular teen’s rebellious phase. No one knew of the deep-rooted hatred I was nursing in my mind. Even after I crossed my teen years and entered a new decade of my life, it was still the same. I guess by then, my mother had come to understand that I did actually hate her at some level. She desperately tried to get close to me. And I pulled away even farther. There were times when we did try to talk, but it ended up badly every single time.
At some point, I am sure even she was fed up of trying to sort things out. The fact that she was in a state of denial about a lot of things that mattered to me, made things worse. The fact that I didn’t want to work things out didn’t help either. We just gave up trying to get along. And then came a phase where we would hardly talk. I guess that was the most difficult phase. Fighting and yelling at each other gave us a platform to connect in some way. But not talking at all left us strangers, more or less. It went to the extent of my saying openly that I did not want her giving any kind of opinion when it came to wedding proposals for me. That must have hurt her more than anything else. But she obliged, not really saying much about anything anymore.
And then one day, I don’t know why, I wanted to talk to her. It was I think because I fell in love and decided to get married and was overall, a happier person than I ever was. I probably wanted to start over with everything and get rid of all bad blood. And the most bad blood I had was with my mother. I wanted her to be the first person to know about my decision. She must have been taken aback when I went and told her about this. I saw her breaking into a smile like I had never seen her before. There was a mixture of joy and relief in her.
From there, it was an uphill ride where we started bonding little by little. Becoming a wife and taking care of my own home kind of opened my eyes to what all she had done for us all her life. I started calling her up more frequently, sharing more things about my life with her. She was beginning to see a new side of me and I was beginning to think differently about her. The hatred was oozing out of me slowly. Then there was a setback when I encountered the monster from my childhood again which brought back years of repressed frustration and made me crazy. But my mother was too worried about the implications it would have if I vented out in public and as any mother might do, tried to shut me up. The result was yet another outburst at her, after which I didn’t think we would ever have a normal relationship. It scared me, because things were falling into place finally. I knew cutting her off would never be an option again because I didn’t hate her anymore – I loved my mother. I so badly wanted things to work.
Now, a year after that, I must say that things are looking up; in fact, things are good. We are still different people; there are still things which irritate me about her as I am sure there are things which irritate her about me. But I have also come to accept the fact that no matter how much I try, I am very much like her in a number of ways. And surprisingly that does not scare me anymore. I have come to a stage where I can talk to her for hours together and not get into a fight, but enjoy every bit of the conversation. It is a phase where I feel bad when I have to hang up the call after talking to her, miss her like crazy and end up dialing her number again in five minutes, thinking of some lame excuse. It is also a phase where we wait for a chance to tell each other our secrets and indulge in some harmless gossip. It amuses me to see her reactions when I talk to her about “stuff” from my life in a rather blunt and straight-forward manner. A person who would once have gone into a moralistic lecture now laughs with me and tries to understand my perspectives. At a point when a lot of friends have faded out of my life, it is like I have found a new friend. From a mother to an object of hatred to a bitter enemy to a good friend – it has been a rather peculiar journey. It took me 30 whole years to find my mother; but now that I have, I’ve no intention of letting her go again. For all the years of bitterness and hatred we had in our life, I hope there will now be a lot of years of love, fun, laughter and of course, friendship.