It was playtime and the little boy was playing with other kids in his kindergarten class. That is when his teacher came up to him and said, "your mother is waiting for you at the gates". He stopped playing and looked at the gates. He wanted to check and see if she had dressed in a Saree.
"I will be coming to your school today to pay the fees". His mother had told him in the morning.
"What will you be wearing?" he asked.
"Why do you ask? I will wear chatta and mundu** as usual".
"Why don't you wear saree?? All my class mates' mothers are wearing Saree". The kid was so angry about the chatta and mundu as it looked so old and ugly compared to the bright and colorful saris the young and modern mothers wore.
"I've been wearing this all my life, dear. How can I change it now? And moreover, I do not have a saree". The mother said, smiling and patting on his cheek.
"If you are coming to school wearing that thing, I don't want to see you there!" The kid was so angry and sad by then.
He remembered this conversation when he looked at the gates and saw a pale figure in a white dress that he always hated. The kid ran to the gates and murmured in an angry tone, "Didn't I ask you not to come in this dress?" He didn't raise his voice because the other kids might notice and see his mother dressed like an old woman.
"mone (son), amma just came to pay the fees and thought I would just see you. Can I come to your class?"
"No! I don't want to see you here". Kid shouted looking around if there is any of his classmates noticing them. One of them had asked him earlier "Is that your grandma?"
"Okay, okay. Don't be angry. I am leaving now." The mother said while the kid went back to his class without uttering a word.
When he came back home that day, his sisters were talking about it. They asked him, "You said you love Amma and you didn't let her come to your class because she didn't wear a saree??" They didn't stop there. They continued to scold him while the mother was passing by looking at him and smiling, but not uttering a word. Tears burst out of his eyes when he realized his guilt. Then the mother came in and asked his sisters to leave him alone.
This was happened 23 years back and it still hurts him whenever he think of it and his bestest, greatest and loveliest Amma. The kid was me.
There was a second time when I hurt her deeply and that was when she came to know that I didn't attend the second year pre-degree exams. My neighbor was in the same batch in the college and during a chat with his mother, my mom came to know that my neighbor got the exam results.
"Where is your exam results?" she asked me.
"... I didn't write the exams..." It took me a few seconds to reply and I didn't dare to look at her face.
"What do you mean??" she was shocked.
"What is a college degree going to bring me? I am going to do masonry anyway." My two brothers were masons at that time, so I thought I wouldn't waste my time studying in the college. So I spent most of my time in the college canteen and in the nearby cinema theaters. I had enough money for those luxuries since I was working part-time as a bakery sales man.
"You could have just attended the exams, you know..." I saw tears in her eyes as she said this. It seemed to me that she had high hopes on my education. At that moment, I deeply regretted of not attending the exams. To be very honest, I never regretted that much about it ever after.
Later, by the grace of God answering her constant prayers for her children, I had a shift in my career that changed my life.
I always yelled at her as a youngster. I didn't obey much of what she asked. But she knows that I love her. Recently I asked her playfully, "Amma, do any of your grown-up children other than me give you a hug? Aren't you lucky that you have a lovely son like me?"
"That is only when you are drunk, dumbo!", my sisters would tease me. But Amma would interfere and say "No no... it's not like that. I know he loves me". :-)
When I saw "wish your mother a happy mother's day" advertisement email today, these were the events that rushed into my mind. She has turned 71 this year. I am not going to wish her a "Happy Mother's day", as she doesn't believe in such dedicated days for mother, children, father etc. And I don't think that I have to wait till the Mother's Day to write about my mother. So I thought this would be a good time to think about the painful times I had given her and remind myself about how much she loves and cares for her children and how important it is to treat her with the love and dignity that she truly deserves.
** Chatta and Mundu - The Christian woman wore a white mundu about seven yards in length and 1 ¼ yards in breadth with a fan like frill at the back. They used to cover the upper part of the body with full or half sleeved white blouses called ‘Chatta’. While going out, they threw over their shoulders and bosom another piece of cloth called ‘Kavani’. The women took great interest to beautify the Kavani with embroidery works.