We have all heard about the famous Bengal tigress. Well, I live with one. I call her Ma. I also call her Sher-e-Bengal. Not because she has a flying temper or comes across as a hot head. I call her that simply because you -don’t- mess- with- her. Ever.
My mother never fails to surprise me. Be it her progressive ideas, her sensitivity, her strength of character or her raw and fierce honesty.
I have seen only two kinds of people. The ones who love her and the ones who don’t. Because that’s also the kind of person that she is. She won’t pretend to like you if she doesn’t, she won’t say something just to make you happy and she won’t ever be dishonest in giving her opinions.
I can’t even remember how many times I have been left fuming with anger because something that I believed in immensely or loved has been straight away called a trash. (Without even one granule of sugar to coat the sentiment) And every time after such an incident, after I have calmed down and eaten my comfort food, I have realized either she is right or I believe in the thing enough to go ahead in spite of the feedback. That freedom to have an opinion and the strength to believe in it is I think the most important part of her parenting style because such incidents have made me more confident of the choices I make, made me realize if I have it in me to believe in something I can either go get it or drop it because it doesn’t align with the people who are close to me.
I could write a book on my mother and still there would be so many shades that I won’t even be able to do justice to. I being an only child, my mom was my first best friend. (Though there was a phase in my teenage where when she sat me down and asked me something telling me to treat her as a friend only meant one thing: run for your life and don’t open your mouth!! )but after that phase passed, after I entered adulthood, after I started understanding life and myself, I found the friend in her again. I have seen movies with her like Boom and discussed guys, I have asked her a million questions which children generally shy away from asking their parents and have been sure that she is someone who would always tell me the truth, however bitter it might be.
My memories of her go back to the time when I would be adamant about eating my food on a swing and only open my mouth for food to be put in when the swing reached a certain point, or when she lovingly used to call me close to her and trick me into opening my mouth so that she could put green chilli inside and see my war dance, or the one time when I almost crapped my pants when she sat in the dark, pulled all her hair in front of her face and said “Riti, come to me” (I have never been scared that much in my entire life). And, I also remember the time when she used to juggle work and home like a boss and reach my parent teacher meetings wearing sport shoes because she would be coming straight from field work and then answer my question as to why doesn’t she wear fancy sandals like other moms and after handling a child like me, still find time be sensitive to people’s needs ,speaking continuously to me about social issues, urging me to think about what is wrong and what is right, teaching me to make fair, balanced and informed decisions and also teaching me empathy all along the way.
Every time when I think she won’t get it or she won’t be that open to certain thoughts, I have been put not only to shame by her fiercely open and progressive thinking but also have learned so much more about life from her.
And that’s why I say, I have been raised by a tigress. Even the Jat bwoi (my pa 😛 ) couldn’t tame her. If in my life time I become 10% of the woman that she is, I would consider myself a hero.
Cheers Ma!