I climbed the stairs up to my house. Not too excited mind you. I am never too excited to get back home. Never. There are a myriad reasons behind this. I live 18 hours far, by train, from my college. I love my college. It is this microcosm of the real world, or at least as much of it as I can fathom. The challenges are real and neither too tough nor too easy. I thrive there- I digress, the beauty of college life shall be talked about some other time. This piece isn’t about that. This is about climbing the stairs to your home, where you have lived a crazy two decades of your life. Twenty years is a long time. This is about living inside a bee hive, with all its honey and busyness. Now I will introduce you to the Queen bee, my mom.
You see, my mom is not the TV-clichéd, tailor made “Meri Maggi waali Maa”. Nope. She is a tiger mom. Or a ‘Chopper mom’ in American slang. I used to get beaten up regularly till my fifteens. I do not claim to be a very peaceful kid, but I wasn’t the worst. I had good grades, and did reasonably well in a decent array of life skills. She was always behind me to be more ambitious; upset and irritated when I would be a close second to some other kid, when my behavior wouldn’t be up to the mark or when I wouldn’t religious enough. Yep, this is going to be one huge rant about the most influential female figure in my life.
Currently she is the Head of Department in an all-girls college in my hometown. She has taught students all her life- and everybody swears that she is goddamn good at teaching her stuff. Except me. I hated her teaching me. There was so much of uproar and chaos in life when that used to happen. It was around 4th standard I guess when my Dad took over- she had started pursuing her Ph.D. at that point. My Dad’s ship ran amok a few years later and since then I’ve managed quite comfortably on my own- but again that is a different story. I have a lot of complaints against the way I was raised as a kid- how I was denied permission to visit those aunts who weren’t her favourites! How I was denied cable TV and Internet! How I was not allowed to mingle with the “cool” kids! How I was told I couldn’t and shouldn’t waste my time learning musical instruments! How, learning and studying were the only way out of any shithole.
She was a single child to her parents. She has this complex of being alone. Or how she feels she is alone. She isn’t a self-made woman, but knowing her familial background- to reach where she is now is indeed remarkable. But to do that she had clung on to a lot of principles. Her strict sense of in-group bias, to name one; anybody who thought any differently from her was essentially wrong. She believed in God, and her belief was the only right one. She instilled that in me and my brother, and she loses her mind every time she sees anything in disregard to what she believed in.
To be honest everything was moderately fine, till I turned into a lanky energetic teenager. Ignorance was bliss, but the lack-of-TV-induced habit of book reading brought me a lot of information. I can’t claim it to be knowledge or wisdom, but raw data- and like all young men of my age with young blood and rigour, I started to rebel. I tried to go against everything that parents stood for, and anything at all. I tried to revamp whatever they had taught me. To me, it was a new world order, and we; the youth were going to lead the world.
“Monu, why are you writing with your left hand? From where have you learnt all this nonsense?” That’s my mom staring at me in disbelief as I write this article. Now if I quote an online web journal paper regarding the benefits of using your left hand to improve your neural networks she’ll probably throw a ladle at me. Trust me, it hurts. Five years ago, I’d ask her to mind her own business and continue writing more ferociously. But I’ve grown up. So I go with:-
“Just trying Amma, my right hand hurts-“
“Huh? Did you fall down somewhere? Twenty two years old and still can’t take care of himself. Let me go get…..”
Sighing, I return to my work as I hear her going inside to get God-and-she-knows what. We are far apart, yes. Emotionally, intellectually. I am not saying that I am a super smart know-it-all. But she isn’t either. I love her. It might be unconditional. Call me a sick, self-centered ass. I probably am. I realise that whatever I am today is hugely because of her, and also yes obviously my old man. I am indebted.
I used to crib that she wouldn’t understand me. I was right in a way, but wrong in many. I never understood her either. Now I’m trying. Is that wisdom? Generations exist because of time. Time has already driven them apart. The best we can do is to listen, nod, understand and let it go. Oh, also- think and do the right fucking thing.
Photography By: Yash Mistry