One of the most precious memories from my early childhood is something which often brings a mist to my eyes and a sad smile on my face! But in those days my feelings were totally different; I felt a bit astonished and looked up at my father with a wee bit of amusement! Whenever he was sad, distressed, ill or stuck in any such difficult situation, he would declare with tears in his eyes, “With whom should I share my woes? Alas, my mother is around no more!”
And I distinctly remember that my instant response to this statement was surprise! What need has a grown-up man like Daddy for a mother? I wondered silently! Moms are for kids like me, to look after us, tend to our needs, comfort us when we are sick, console us when we are frightened! Though I must admit I wasn’t old enough to think about all this as clearly as I am writing today, but thoughts like these fluttered across my little head as I disdainfully ignored Daddy’s misery and turned back to whatever I was doing!
In all fairness to him, I must mention here that my father was not a weak man! With a strong will power, (and temper too) and a cheerful personality, he was a highly intelligent and wise man. Perhaps the master-mind of a huge family, his advice was sought and followed by even those older than him. And he also had a very strong relationship with my mother. They had a bond of deep love and understanding and always shared/ discussed their problems with each other.
But tears always came easily to Daddy, something not considered proper for men in our part of the world. I realized later on in life, those tears were a sign of a sensitive heart rather than a weak personality!
Sadly, it took me nearly a life time (or a good part of it) to understand why my Father always yearned for my Grandmother in his moments of distress!
After I was married, I had to move away from my family and settle in a new city, with an entirely new family. I was young and inexperienced and life did not turn out to be the fairy tale I had dreamt it to be! Problems which are usually a part of the early stage of a married life confused me. Not knowing what to do in which situation and no one to turn to in an alien city, there used to be times when I simply wanted to run into the comforting and safe haven of Ammi’s arms. I yearned for her advice, her love and for the sense of security which we all feel when our mothers are around!
It was in those days that I began to understand my father’s feelings and realize what he meant when he missed his mother in hard moments. No matter how old we get, we always want our mothers to be at our sides. Both in difficult times and in happy moments, I felt that life is not complete Ammi’s presence and loving support. For the first time in my life, I felt proud of my father’s deep love for his mother. My grandmother had died young, in fact before my parents got married, but even decades after her death, Daddy never ceased missing her.
As life moved on, I settled down in the new environment and got busy with my children and family life. Meetings with my parents were often possible after years. I still missed Ammi, but finally I got used to not having her around whenever I needed her. Whenever stuck in adversities, I tried my best to hide my yearning for her presence.
Unfortunately, married life was not smooth sailing for me. After fighting tooth and nail to overcome the problems which multiplied over the decades, I finally realized that the writing was on the wall. In those painful days, I found myself too tired to struggle anymore. And then the inevitable happened and my marriage ended in a divorce!
I fail to describe the anguish and the deep sense of insecurity of those days. Nightmares! Fears lurking in the dark! Dazed with pain but too proud to show my grief, I shed silent tears when no one was around. I silently mourned the death of love and the security which I had once thought was an inevitable part of married life! Thinking that times couldn’t be any worse for me, I had the solace that soon Ammi will come over and I shall find peace after crying my heart out in her arms.
Little did I know that the worst was still to come! Although the back count for Ammi’s arrival had begun, but she (or fate) had other plans! Going to bed one night, she passed away peacefully in her sleep!
The tragic news of her sudden demise hit me like a bomb shell! As if hit under the belt, I felt stunned with pain, the tears just refusing to come! Totally shattered, I just sat in a state of disbelieve, staring blankly at people pouring in for condolences. “How could she do this to me?” I asked myself in anguish and somewhat anger. “Didn’t she know how badly I needed her?”
And then, for the first time in my life, I fully realized what Daddy meant, and also my foolishness in not understanding his feelings! Mothers are needed for a life time! They do not only care for their kids when they are young, the solace of their presence is needed at all ages. They do not only bandage bruised knees, they soothe bruised souls too! Their arms not only shelter their young ones against the fear of darkness, they allay the fear of the unknown in grown up children too!
And in those moments of excruciating pain, as I sat in a stony silence, I heard a voice muffled in tears declaring, “With whom should I share my woes? My mother is around no more!”