Once, an unfortunate event had filled me with fear, and I briefly contemplated leaving town until the storm blew over.
By Suma Varughese
Happy Mother’s Day, everyone! My mother, Aleykutty Varughese, passed away on February 11th, 2012. I still dream of her very often. And when referring to anything she used to do or say, like the scrupulous way she washed fish, cut methi, or prepared sweet mango curry, I find myself referring to her in the present tense. It’s not that I miss her so unbearably, or that I want her back – she had died at 93, and no one needs to live longer than that! But it is true that my relationship with my mother is the closest I have had with any human being, and that despite a brood of loving family and friends, I don’t expect to have a relationship like that again.
It was not that my mother and I spent a lot of time talking or sharing. It was just that being with her felt so right. When I was with her, I felt that I was floating in a sea of harmony. Our vibes were so much in sync, and it nourished both of us. I don’t know of anyone who has had this experience with another, so I am pretty sure my mother was my soul-mate.
At any event, my mother was surely my role model. She was not perfect. She had a hot temper, and like most Scorpios, she found it extremely hard to forgive. Nevertheless, she was a noble human being. My father was vague and absent-minded. My eminently practical mother ran the house and made things happen.
Despite my father’s extremely limited salary, my mother contrived to feed and clothe us six sisters and educate each one of us. Having bitterly rued her own lack of education, which stopped her from supplementing the family income, my mother was determined to educate us all. That was the mission that she set up for herself and she never wavered from it.
My second sister is a doctor, and my fourth passed out of the prestigious XLRI. I myself was given an expensive education at Sophia College, Mumbai, as a hostelite since we lived in a remote township called Sunabeda in Orissa.
Thanks to her, all of us worked for a living, and since my fourth sister, Susan, and I, never ended up marrying, our economic independence turned out to be a Godsend.
I adored my mother for her strength and her numerous capabilities. She stitched, knitted, gardened, cooked and cleaned. She was absolutely indefatigable. There was no limit to her capacity for hard work.
I adored her even more for her value system, which was the absolute gold standard. I still remember the two of us walking home one summer noon, wilting under the blazing Vizag sun, after having made a few purchases.
We had almost reached home when my mother discovered that the shopkeeper had given her an extra 25 paisa. Off she marched, with me reluctantly in tow, to restore the money to its rightful owner. Honesty, truthfulness, detachment about money despite having faced severe hardship, self-reliance, commitment, generosity, and so many other values were what she mirrored every single day.
She was a devout Christian and loved going to Church every Sunday. One Sunday morning, my friend Usha called to say she and her daughter Anisha would be coming to spend the day with us. My mother was disappointed, so I suggested that she go ahead and that I would look after Usha. My mother shook her head wisely and said that it made no sense going to Church if she had duties to complete at home!
My mother was one of the wisest persons I knew. She was for me a daily demonstration that wisdom had nothing to do with education (she had stopped going to school after the eighth standard), but had everything to do with how you lived your life.
Long before I had come across articles by psychologists about the importance of the child’s first three years in building self-esteem, my mother used to tell us how important it was to cherish a child for the first three years of its life, and not punish it severely.
Once, an unfortunate event had filled me with fear, and I briefly contemplated leaving town until the storm blew over. My mother sagely observed that there was no forest dense enough to run away from fear. Chastened, I decided to stay back and face my demons.
I can go on and on, but suffice it to say on Mother’s Day that having a mother like mine was my biggest stroke of luck and I bless her every day.
(Suma Varughese is Founder Facilitator of the Zen of Good Writing Course and former Editor-in-Chief, Life Positive Magazine. Views expressed are personal.)