When people talk about mothers, in general, they usually highlight their patience and the ability to take on bullshi* and not react. You were the complete opposite Amma. From challenging every norm thrust upon you, to trying to find loopholes in every rule there was. I remember being seven months pregnant and feeling like a beached whale, with a long day of family and rituals ahead. I had just woken up and we had an hour to have a bath and get ready. Five more minutes, I said when you came to wake me up – and you sat massaging my feet for fifty instead. I whined and said I was in no mood for washing my hair. You closed the door quickly, came back again in an instant with a mug of water and a wet towel. You sprinkled some on my head and asked me to just wrap around that wet towel around my head and put some deodorant on – no one would know the difference. And that’s what I did. Here’s me, grumbling an hour later about how tight the bangles were – so you just pretended to put them on for the photos.
You’ve taught me to constantly question authority, put my foot down, do things my way, be it the right way or not. You hated wearing jewellery of any kind and did the most blasphemous thing of not wearing a mangalsutra, constantly and faced quite the flak for your choices and mine, but never ever stopped doing things your way. You’d cheat on the Ugadi pachadi, hide my school uniform the day we had any outdoor picnics. You’d warn grown men from even daring to say anything against your children, even in passing. You’d never take your eyes off of us, or your granddaughter. “Let me watch for some more time.” you’d say when she’d finally fall asleep.
You’d start new traditions, like putting up the Christmas Tree, because I saw a neighbour’s and wanted one for the house too. Indulgence was your middle name, Amma. And I miss that the most. Asking you for something and getting something 10,000 times it’s worth. Like the time I asked you for a jigsaw puzzle and you bought me the whole box because I couldn’t decide which one to take.
I hope I can be at least one-tenth of the mother you were, Amma. Happy Birthday – I hope they serve cake up there.