Saturday Features

NO REBEL

  • When I was young, I didn’t understand that my mother, an ordinary woman, had an extraordinary life
- Shuvechchhya Pradhan

Dec 1, 2018-

“I had no dreams,” was my mother’s response when I asked her what her dream was while growing up. “Why?” I asked, puzzled by the answer. “Because I didn’t have the privilege to dream as you do now.”

My mother was no rebel. She didn’t sneak out of her house to take part in political discussions and protests. She didn’t have to run away from her home to go to schools. But my mother was also not meek. She wasn’t at home, waiting for my brother and me to come from school nor waiting for my father to return from his work. She wasn’t the last one to eat in the family in the mornings as she would have to hurry off to work. And yet between not being a rebel or a meek, my mother was also no average.

As a kid, it sometimes angered me that my mother’s life didn’t revolve around me. In some way, it did. But then, unlike my classmates’ mothers, she wasn’t home during our vacations or school holidays. Some evenings, I would find her sharing a peg or two of aila with Baa, her father-in-law. Other days, she would lecture me on financial security. “You can’t depend on anyone when it comes to money. You need to make your own money to be able to spend it,” she’d often say.

The little girl of seven didn’t understand back then that my mother, an ordinary woman, had an extraordinary life. Only when I started working, I appreciated her work and her life; but more than that, I started being curious about her life before she was married off.

One of the recurring stories of her childhood days was of her own vacations at Trishuli when her father was stationed there and later at her home in Bhaktapur. She was brought back to Bhaktapur abruptly by her grandmother one afternoon after she saw my mother cooking in the kitchen while her own mother was enjoying her lazy afternoon nap. The sight infuriated her grandmother who mouthed, “I’ve raised my granddaughter as a princess and here you are making her a slave,” to my mother’s father. It was the last vacation she had at Trishuli.

This was one of the many stories that she shared with me during our special sleepovers during Dashain. Every day, starting from fulpati, after the rituals were over and before the preparation of bhoye—the feast that began in the afternoon—mother would sneak to my room and sleep beside me. But before sleep came, and sometimes after, we would find ourselves talking, whispering, laughing but mostly, sharing.

She would reminisce about her school days and her college days—the first time she tasted Coca Cola, the time she skipped her turn to cook dinner to watch a night show at a local movie theatre.

Mother’s stories made me realise how differently she was brought up compared to many women I knew, compared to the rest of the women in my own family, including my fufus. She was raised by a father who gave her the freedom to go around the town, and never restricted her choice of friends, work and circle. But her mother made sure that she learned her responsibilities, at least of being a woman—to cook, clean, knit, sew and so on. To be home when needed. To be there for her family when required.

And this is exactly how she shaped me to be who I am today. I have the freedom to do whatever I like, as long as I am responsible. Sometimes, I fail. But I learn my lesson and try not to repeat it the next time. She has also reflected in terms of how I live my life, and now I am more appreciative of her life before me. Or my brother and my father. The life she lived before she got married.

Although she always dismissed my questions, it made me see her as someone who was more than just my mother. That she was also a person with wishes and desires, stories and memories; she was more than just my mother.  

Published: 01-12-2018 08:32

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