My parent got married when my father was well into the late 30s. My mother was somewhere in her late 20s. There was at least a gap of 10-12 years between them. I never knew what the age difference was because they were never keen on celebrating their birthdays so they never remembered their age. I assume from their talks was that he was 39-39 and she was 26-27. He was not the marrying type. He had a brother and a sister. He wanted to get his sister married first. His brother was already married She was the third child in the family with 6 children. He was a no-care person who knew no responsibilities. He would hand all his salary to his brother and then roam around with his friends. A lot of convincing from his friend did not prompt about thinking about his marriage. At 39, it was difficult to find a girl until mother came alone.
“He is just a worker”, my mom’s sister had said. “He does not look good.” another of her sister had said. But she saw something in dad which the rest of her sibling could not see. She agreed to him much to his amazement. His brother did not want him to get married to my mom. “She wear spectacles” “You have to listen to us” was his brother warning. He stood his ground this time. He had agreed to marry my mom and marry they did. It was a small affair, smaller than anything. Both were married because of the efforts of his cousins and her determination. Dad’s family was not so enthusiastic about the marriage. I guess that is why there is not a single photo of my parents wedding. My dad’s brother was opposed to the marriage but gave in to the wishes of other elders in the family. My dad’s brother, my uncle was the elder in the family and rules the family with an iron fist and sometimes even using physical force on dad.
When mom came to stay with dad after marriage, she was shocked how blindly my dad obeyed his brother and sister. Mom was the smart home manager in her father’s house. With no saving and no scope of progress in the family, my mom started saving for the future from the meager pocket money my dad kept with him even though he was the only earning member of the family. She suffered many taunts from my dad’s family just for dad’s sake.
A day came when things got out of hand and my uncle raised his hand on dad for an insignificant reason. He was nearing 40. That was the breaking point for mom. That day my parents walked out of the house. That day, life changed for all of us. Staying with my mom’s elder sister they moved out from there in a couple of days refusing to stay in her sister’s house. They moved to a small house in a slum for some days taking a loan from her elder sister and dad’s cousin sister. In addition dad had a loan to replay which he had taken for my uncle.
This entire time mom stood firmly behind dad, encouraging him and giving all the support he needed. Dad worked in the factory and mom brought work home using her sewing skills. My dad was not money-wise but mom sure is. She saved, invested and re-invested. I was born then and their responsibilities increased. Still both of them worked harder to give me a better living. In a year’s time, mom took the risk of buying a house on loan even when dad opposed it. He did not see the money coming but mom was like “jo hoga dekha jayega”. We moved to a new suburb in Mumbai, a bigger house and a better future. Slowly and steadily my parents repaid the entire loan. I was admitted in an English medium school even though the fees was very high according to our financial standard.
Some years later, mom convinced dad to buy a shop. She use to juggle me, home and shop at the same time standing firmly behind dad. Sometimes dad was so frustrated that he wanted to sell the shop but mom stood her ground and managed to convince him, sometime lovingly and sometimes sternly.
I had a good childhood. Not that there were many luxuries to boast of but mom made sure that we understand the value of money. We had seen our parents work hard and we knew that we had to work harder. All these years mom always had been the decision maker of the house. I had seen her supporting dad in every move and in every step and still caring for him like a small child attending his every need. I have seen her fighting, arguing with dad but in some way make him see the sense of logic.
We never were taught to show affection at home but we knew that our parents always loved us. The way she told us stories when me and my brother would sleep on both side. She used to defend us from our dad’s anger and at the same time defend dad against our teenage outburst. She is the glue that kept us together.
I guess she is the only one who more than perfectly understood my dad. She nurtured him, encouraged him and supported him all her life and at the same time she knew that dad would stand by her in all situation never letting her down. I guess she saw that when she married him even though everybody opposed their marriage. There is a saying that “Marriage is like a cart where husband and wife are the two wheels” I saw that in my parents both of them balancing each other. She was devastated when he passed away. All these years she was close to him more than any person on this earth. She was convinced that we, her children would one day leave but he would always be with her. A few days after he passed away, she was making rotis and giving me and my brother as the rotis were being made. Without thinking, she just passed the plate from the kitchen and said “Give this one to your dad”. The next moment she was in tears.
But after three years, she has stood up again. When I left India, I was worried about her and more for my brother. But she is a fighter and she has stood by me and not holding me back. I know she still misses dad. It is natural after all they were married for 26 years.
I hope one day I will be able to make her proud. Her and my dad, both of them. I may never tell her but she knows that I love her. She has always been my strength even though of the numerous problems we have faced between us. She will stand by me and my brother no matter what just like she stood behind dad.
Yesterday was Mother’s day and we never celebrated it. She does not even know that there is something like a Mother’s day. But here’s to you mom for always being there for me.
Aai! Happy Mother’s Day
Aai* – Mother is called ‘Aai” (pronounced aa-ee) in Marathi.
Note – This is the my 250th Post. Nothing could be better topic than this.