A letter to my middle-class mother of four daughters
You would give us a 20-rupee note and say “poore kharch mat karna” and I always managed to save a rupee or two and give it back to you
Since everybody is writing a letter to their daughter these day, I thought of writing a letter to you Maa, the first woman in my life who showed me what courage means and why it is important to speak up even if you are not sure of what you’re about to say.
We belonged to a small town and lived in a joint, middle-class family where having four daughters was not something to be happy about. You were always reminded of this and how it would be tough for you to “raise and marry us” in a male-dominated Indian society.
You listened to all of it, but did what was right and what was good for us, irrespective of what the “other people” had to say. And this you did with a smile and a confidence that would make everyone around envy you. Thanks Maa for treating each one of us so special and bringing us like sons. My brother would often feel jealous after all the love you showered on us daughters.
While there are several times I would have thanked you for, here are five things that I remember today:
1. For teaching me the art of sharing
Raising five kids was tough in an expensive city like Dehradun, but you knew the art of making the best of what we had. This is how you taught us how sharing is the best joy in life and how it is okay to re-cycle and use things again.
From toys to books to schoolbags to clothes—we shared it all and passed from one sibling to another. I still remember how you would cut one apple to equal pieces and would make us all sit together and have it. I have never tasted a sweeter apple till today!
2. For teaching me it’s good to have a sense of humour
Middle-class families go through a lot of hardships, but I always saw you (and papa) smile in distress and always had a joke to crack each time. I think I have got this trait from you and it really helps me in times of stress and despair. Thanks Maa for teaching me how to cope up with everyday life problems with ease.
3. For making us realise the importance of education
We were five kids but despite the limited means we all went to the best English-medium schools. Am sure you had problems, but we never saw them on your face.
Not once did I see a delay from your side to pay my school or coaching fees. I sometimes wonder how you and Papa managed it all.
4. For being my first cheerleader
I was very fond of dancing and participated in many activities, but it was you who pushed me each time to perform, to show my talent and leave behind all the hesitation.
Continue reading to know more about what I learned from my mother!
This is why I never felt scared of standing up on a stage and speaking up or performing and it was you who gave me the confidence. Thanks Maa for being my biggest chearleader and for clapping for me always!
5. For making me realise the value of money
English schools in Dehradun had a trend of organising school fetes and carnivals for kids in the 90s. You would give us a 20-rupee note and say “poore kharch mat karna” and I always managed to save a rupee or two and give it back to you.
Thanks Maa for teaching me the value of money and why it is important to save. I hope I can teach the same to my daughter in today's day and age.
6. For telling me that food is not to be wasted
Being a joint family, lunch was a special affair for all of us, but we were given strict instructions to finish our veggies and eat what was laid on the plate. I was never fond of lauki and karela and would make a face whenever that was cooked in our house and say “mujhe khana nahee khana”. You would turn back and say “bas yahee hai, khaana padega”.
Sometimes I would get angry and refuse to eat. You never coaxed me or gave me something else to eat. When the hunger pangs would become unbearable, I'd get back to the table and finish it all. I follow the same rules with my daughter and you are the reason why she is such a veggie-lover today.
Another thing you were very particular about was food wastage and made sure we finished every bit of the food that was served. You would otherwise ask us to keep it in the kitchen and eat later.
These and many other such memorable tales will stay with me forever and I would try and inculcate the same values in my daughter as well.
Happy Mother's Day, Maa!
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