Mother’s day has come and gone….but its not for nothing that one hears this quote “ the hand that rocks the cradle, rules the world”…..its the influence of a mother on her child, that you see in men and women today.
She was one who greatly impacted my life. She raised 5 boys with a firm and loving hand. She loved my Dad. Dad was the Provider, but Mum was the Home Minister. She looked after all aspects of our life at home.
Her favourite pastimes were gardening, and baking. She even iced cakes for our birthdays, and this encouraged me later in life to learn sugar craft . Her sweet making at Christmas was real fun. We made traditional sweets like Kulkuls, rolled on combs (clean ones!!) and marzipans . But the highlight was helping her to stir the batter for the cake. We fought to get our turn to stir. There was the time when she broke eggs skillfully, over the bowl of batter. So I offered to do it and guess what….my strike on the egg was so hard that the egg and its contents went all over the place.
She also encouraged us with music. One of her favourite songs was “Thinking of things” and “I have often walked down this street before”. Thereon we took to musical instruments like the violin, piano, accordion, and guitar. Even the drums came in, but was too noisy to continue at home.
She even taught our househelp ( a young man}, to learn English. This man later learnt to read the newspaper , drive the car, and even help in compounding medicines at my Dad’s dispensary.
Mum was always busy, and did outdoor as well as indoor work. She knew aspects of house finances and banking, and in her marketing , be sure she got the best bargains. She knew all the nooks and corners of south Mumbai . So when it came to Christmas , Santa never failed to get us a variety of toys and of course a whole lot of story books .
Mum took keen interest in our studies. Her visits to our school were quite frequent , and there was no need for ‘Open Day’, as she knew her children’s progress in an ongoing way. Time for homework was an essential part of the day.
Any fights between us boys at home , would end with a firm hand and specially when it came to the twins. I remember one Christmas , we got so caught up with the preparations and excitement that we got into our own squabbles. On one such occasion, we got so boisterous that we were separated and had to kneel down in two different rooms until sobriety returned.
We were blest to always have enough food on the table. One of her favorite methods of helping us to adapt to every type of food, especially vegetables, was to get the very one we did not like. Be sure that if one disliked spinach or turnip, it would feature again the next day.
A few interesting incidents I recollect. Mum took me for an icecream to a quiet restaurant. I treasure that moment, as I felt so special. On another occasion we were taken for a movie “Pepe”. However since Mum was not aware of the movie time, we landed up at the interval. Mum had quite a task consoling us.
During school days, we took keen interest in games apart from studies. Evenings were for outdoor games. If it was the kite flying season (Sep-Oct) we would be on the terrace enjoying ourselves. But then the call would come for study time, at around 6.30pm. And with great reluctance we returned to our books. I remember playing cricket in the compound. While batting, I struck the ball in such way that it broke the window pane. With great dread I went home to confess,…..but amazingly Mum forgave me and even affirmed me for being honest.
She abhorred any dishonesty. Quite a few government clerks faced her ire, when they avoided giving receipts for payment made. Even the taxi driver would be given a firm reprimand if he tried cheating her. But she was very generous, and Dad would not even know , the times she helped others and even the church, in keeping with the “ left hand should not know what the right hand does”
The day I successfully finished my Studies, I was astonished when she welcomed me home with a beautifully decorated cake and a graduation booklet. I was the last and the least , but she never ever treated me with any indifference. She patiently waited for this young man to make his way to be “ someone” and was very concerned about this.
The best gift she gave me is my “Faith” . I always saw her pray fervently every evening. She did not have to tell me ….but at such times she taught without preaching.
Mum was a pillar of strength when my Dad suffered hypertensive strokes , and was invalid for about 6 years. She kept the morale of our home , and herself strong in faith. Her courage knew no bounds. Nothing deterred her, as long as she knew she was doing the right thing.
But her life changed when Dad passed away. She missed him, and mourned for him even some years later. Lonliness set in. No matter how we tried , but she never regained her bold and confident self. The final blow came when cancer set in. She was told the truth, only 6 months later at the end, to soften the reality. She was really distraught.
Her final moments were exceptional. She prayed the rosary with me and my family and then gave each of us her final blessing. That evening we were surprised when a priest brought her ,Holy Communion without making any request. Next morning she slowly sank and breathed her last.
As I prayed her favorite prayer “ Eyes of Jesus , look upon me” , she turned to look knowingly…….and that was the last. But heaven always awaits such a Mother, strong and courageous ….. in faith.