Saturday, November 22, 2008

Understanding Mom - Part 1 "You take a call..."

I was in school. Dad had got the blue print of the house he was planning to build in Hubli.

He called out to Mom…"Suni, come see this…I got the blue print of the house…let me know if you want anything changed”.

She answerd from the kitchen “ Oh, you take a call”. Never as much even stepped out of there.

I came out of my room thinking “ God, how can she be so disinterested. He is building a house for all of us…how can she behave as if she has nothing to do with it”.

I came up…sat opposite him on the dining table. Happily went about the blue print. I wanted to be supportive. Here, a man is going out of his way to build a little nest and the least a family can do is at least sound excited about it.

I tried to understand the fine blue lines, the criss crosses, the elevation. He explained everything to me. There was going to be only a ground floor.

Something struck me. There was a Living room, a kitchen, a dining room, a master bedroom, a small room (maybe a study or a guest room), bathroom, a servant’s quarter and space for a garden.

I asked him “Where are the rooms for me & Bunty?”

He laughed “As if you people will live with us. Bunty will go away for work and you will be married”. I didn’t understand how that meant we shouldn’t have rooms of our own. He added “In a few years when I have more money, I will add another floor and I will make rooms for you two”. I was happy.

I never forgot how Mom didn’t even bother to go through the blue print. May be she didn’t understand these things…maybe she wasn’t so savvy….maybe she just didn’t care.

So, I felt precious. I had done my bit by telling him to add rooms for us.

Many years passed by.

I moved to Mumbai for work.

The house did turn out well but there were many changes. Things were built as per needs and not plans.

Mom made only one change when they moved in. She was short and the kitchen slab was high so she had a little permanent footstone made so she could climb that up and cook.

Bunty remained in Hubli. He got married. The kitchen was renovated.

He got a room of his own on the 1st floor.

Mom never expressed her happiness or gratitude for such a lovely house which Dad built completely on his own. But never ever did she complain about anything either.

She was contented with whatever she got.

I didn’t understand that. I thought to myself “If ever my husband built a house, I would be sooooo involved in it”.

As I grew up I realized it wasn’t all about what you see. Many feelings, incidents, realities remain hidden inside a person and never surface. Never.

Never until the time to go has come.

Mom passed away a fortnight ago.

But before she went….she spoke of all the things she always wanted. All her little wishes. Desires, that could have been fulfilled with a tiny bit of attention and thoughtfulness by people around her. Including me!

She spoke of all her yearnings in the past tense. It was clear that she knew long back that they would never be fulfilled. The moment to realize them was gone. There is a time for everything and the time to meet her unfulfilled dreams was gone, long long back.

No wonder she was always so detached.

No wonder she was never too happy or too sad about anything.

No wonder she never expected anything.

And here I thought, she was insensitive and cold.
In reality, she was just beyond feelings. She knew that they would bring nothing but hurt. Frankly, nobody cared and people were finally going to do exactly as they pleased. So why bother at all.

No wonder she was always in an eternal sense of numb calm.

Today Partha asked me “There is a flat near Hyderabad. What do you think?”

I said “Take a house where you finally wanna live, not just coz it’s available”.

He said “It’s for 30 lac”

I said “But what’s the point in blocking your money for something one is not sure of?”

He sounded very interested in it and continued talking.

Before keeping the phone, I heard myself saying "Your wish, you take a call!"

I did sit on a blueprint once. I did suggest things once. I did argue. I did feel for a house once. But I still don’t have a room of my own in that house. Do I??


  1. Little that I knew aunty personally... but i do remember her fondly as a very nice, making us all feel comfortable whenever we visited ur place, be it for a party or generally to exchange college notes. She'll be missed. Ma too is like aunty in so manyways... never ever voices her opinion( not that ladies of their generation don't have anything to say) but they respect, trust their husbands in ways today's generation probably can't even fanthom yaar. Touching blog and tribute to a Mom. Hugs n TC.

  2. My condolence to you & your family.


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