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Tuesday, 14 May 2013


(A Tribute to my Mother on her 12th Death Anniversary)

Maa, tujhe salaam...
Years ago, you told me that when you were in the family way in the year 1949, you prayed every morning that you be blessed with a baby girl. A few months later, I landed up in your lap and ever since, I have always been proud of being your daughter.  As I grew up, I learnt so many things from you that you have become an integral part of my being.

When I was only five years old, you asked me to go and watch whether the cook was doing his job properly. When I pointed out to him that a black bug had fallen in the daal, he dismissed me by saying that it is burnt dhania. I brought it to your notice and you appreciated my alertness profusely. You actually taught me supervision.

When I was six years old, they did not teach English in school in those backward places where we were posted but you yourself taught me English. You taught me never to be cowed down by  circumstances.

When I was only nine years old, you used to direct me to go around the huge bungalow to check whether the orderlies had properly secured all the doors. When I detected a few unbolted doors and brought it to your notice, you admired me no end. You actually taught me undertaking responsibility.

When I felt scared of going in the dark holding a lantern in my hand, you taught me Gayatri Mantra as a weapon against fear. You taught me to fight against baseless fears.

At the age of ten, when I was studying for my exams and you were confined to bed, you asked me to look after my baby brother also. When I protested, you explained to me how I could handle both by giving him some toys and by keeping an eye on him while reading my books. You taught me basics of multi-tasking.

When at the age of thirteen, I made my bed and folded the blanket or cover-sheet and it did not match corner to corner, you asked me to do it again and not do a shoddy job. You taught me the importance of being a perfectionist.

When I neglected my studies and ran short of your expectations, you told me, “If you study well, you will become something one day. Otherwise, you will keep rotting at home.” You inculcated in me ambition and a desire to excel.

When I avoided entering the kitchen, you told me in clear terms, “When you grow up, you will not have servants like we have now. If you want to enjoy good food, you must know how to cook it yourself.” You inculcated in me an interest in cooking and a need to be independent.

When I picked up the only apple in the fruit basket, you asked me to cut into multiple pieces and give one piece each to all those who were present in the house. You taught me the value of sharing.

When I divided any item for sharing, you directed that the one, who divides, should be the last one to pick up to ensure that one does not try to take a bigger pie. You taught me to be fair in deals.

When I complained about non-availability of all the expensive books as a reason for insufficient preparation for exams, you told me that knowledge comes from reading the books and not by possessing them and that, the library was the place where all the books were available. You taught me never to cite lame excuses.

When I wanted to send an orderly to buy a First Day Cover from the Post Office, you asked me to pedal my bike up to GPO and stand in the long queue to pick up the FDC to add to my collection. You taught me to move my own limbs in pursuit of my hobbies.

When I wanted to buy a suit, you told me to go to the market and pick it up myself. You only said, “It is summer time. So get cotton and a light colour. It should not be more than Rs 3 per meter.” I went from shop to shop until I found a soft pink cotton material with floral designs within a total cost of Rs. 10.” You taught me decision-making within laid down framework.

When I wanted to give that suit for stitching, you asked me to do it myself and helped me understand the basics of stitching. The profuse praise bestowed on my achievements encouraged me to be self-reliant.

When you asked me to see that all my four younger brothers finish their homework and do not fight with each other when you were away, you taught me team-management.

Although you left us twelve years ago on this day, I do not miss you as you still live in me and in my thoughts. Your values guide me in whatever I do. When in confusion, I always think of how you would have tackled this situation and I find the right path. If I start chronicling all that I imbibed from you, I will fail miserably. I can only say about you what poet Kabir wrote about God.

सात समंदर की मसि करौं लेखनि सब बनराइ।

धरती सब कागद करौं हरि गुण लिखा न जाइ॥

(If I make ink out of seven seas, pens out of all the wood in the jungle and convert the entire earth into paper, they will not be sufficient to write about your greatness.)

Thank you, Mom for always being my guiding star!


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