Apr 20, 2007

Of Nose Studs and Tantrums

There is this lady who comes to my bus stop. Her husband drops her everyday on a two wheeler, with a little toddler perched up in front.

She comes to the bus stop in the nth moment just managing to catch the bus. Her son makes his dad go by the bus till it takes a turn, and mother and child keep waving at each other.

Sitting next to her, I enjoy this daily routine, as I see the mother’s face brighten despite the tell-tale signs of an extracting process of getting ready for work. She dressed well, a smart professional. But not as meticulously as a single woman. A tiny diamond stud sparkled on her nose, totally out of place with her attire. A mixture of tradition and modernity.

She reminded me of my own mother, in a remote way. My mother was a first generation graduate who proceeded with her masters as well. She chose to work only after I reached a stage where I didn’t need her attention much. Although I might appreciate her choices more now, there was a time when I was ashamed of and disappointed with her. She never dressed well. She wasn’t smart and trendy like the other mothers. She didn’t converse fluently in English. This was because English became her medium of education only in college. I did not see that she managed so well, inspite of only a few years aquaintance with the language. I was embarassed at her vernacular influenced diction. Inspite of the fact she was the person who introduced books to me, I was annoyed at her ignorance of Enid Blyton and Nancy Drew. Although, she read Tintin and Disney out to me, I grew up to despise her indulgence in Shivashankari and Mangaiyar malar.

There was this one incident that remains fresh in my memory. It was parent-teachers meeting in school. My father was glued to the TV. There was a cricket match on. My mother was getting ready to come to school with me. She wore a traditional cotton sari and jasmines in her hair. Many may not be able to relate to what followed, but just to give a background; I was studying in a school that had only the posh kids in town as students. My parents, prompted by the desire to give me the best, even if it was beyond their capacity had enrolled me there. I was watching my mom getting dressed in this fashion, with mounting apprehension. She then applied talcum powder that caked a little here and there. That was it. A bawling 5 year old shook the household. Even my cricket obsessed father was forced to look up. My demand – Amma should not come for parent teachers meeting. Let Appa come. Otherwise I will never go to school in my life again. My confused parents kept asking me what the reason behind this sudden strike was. In my own infantile set of morals, I did find the real reason cruel. But still, I did not relent. I kept on reiterating my demand, avoiding the why of it. My mother tried all options. She finally hit the bull’s eye. And I nodded teary eyed, half red in shame, half red in guilt. My dad was irritated. He started on a reprimand, when my mother started laughing, and went in to change back to her home clothes. My father was forced to give up his cricket match and come for the parent teachers meet.

Years later, when I was watching the re-run of Malgudi Days on TV, I was reminded of this incident where Swami goes through a similar predicament with his granny. I recounted this incident, asked my mother why she had given in to my tantrums. She smiled and said that my complaints were nothing. One of her sisters had introduced their own mother to her friends as the lady-help in the house, just because she wore her hair in a high bun which wasn’t in vogue then. It seems my aunt repents it till date, and all her siblings still taunt and tease her with this.

May be the reason why I see beauty in the odd diamond stud on the nose of the lady next to me , is because my mother simply smiled that day, two decades back. My mother had the choice to be modern and hip. And the means. But she chose not to. Those were her choices. She dared to be different. She was traditional. I would teach my children to appreciate their tradition. To be proud of it, and not embarassed by it, like the way I was. But then again, may be not. They could learn by themselves, just the way I did.

18 comments:

Hari said...

Ah! That was a nice post.Very true indeed that we sometimes feel ashamed at the ignorance of our own parents without a little thought to the fact that if we are in a well educated and well to do position, it was because of them.

I was "anooyed" at her ignorance of Enid Blyton and Nancy Drew

Now I am annoyed at your ignorance of proper spellings! ;)

Hari said...

U corrected it so soon! Paavi...

The Soliloquist said...

@hari : :-) thanks for visiting my blog twice today :)

Hari said...

Hehe! You are one of the two souls in the entire world who has honored me by linking my blog! Where is my gratitude if I don't visit your blog at least twice a day :D

Nero said...

Bull's eye, Madame! The very idea of putting down what I did in childhood makes me feel queasy :)

Karthik said...

Tht was very nice .. I too had lots of such "demands" when i was a kid. My mom too worked - i always wanted her to come in the evening and take me back home (it was hardly 100 yards from the school). I kinda felt jealous when all the other kids had their moms to walk them home. Later when i was very old (std XII to be precise), my mom got a Voluntary retirement - and she became a stay-at-home mom. But by that time, i would have fainted if she came to school in the evening and waited for me :D :D We still fight abt it - so does my sister who never got her "Barbie" doll !! And to compensate for that my mom buys lots of 'ugly' looking dolls for my sis now !! Aghh - parents !!

~SuCh~ said...

@nero : :-)
@karthik: I hope ur sis doesnt find those dolls ugly.. :-p

EnGeetham aka "My Song!" said...

For me it was simple - I had to keep both my parents from getting to the school! The one time they came, after complaints from my teachers and my parents reco, the result was I had to sit between two girls *and* on the first row ! And those days, that was traumatic !!! ;)
Btw, there was this neat (joke?) one I read somewhere. A 12yr old kid missed the school bus oneday; and his mom dropped him in her car. The kid found that it was a good deal, since he didn't have to wake up early for the bus. The mom, recognizing the trick, one day, drove like crazy, cut across the school-bus, stopped the car, made the bus stop, got her son down, made a big-show of hug and kiss, fussing about his shirt and hair in front of all his friends and wished her baby a good-day at school. That kid was never ever late again for the bus!!!

Rashmi said...

very well said... can relate to it,in lesser capacity though.
Maybe a lot more relieved now that I was not the only one!

~SuCh~ said...

@G:
Sigh! Good old school days.. :-)

@Rashmi :
Welcome back ! :-)

Karthik said...

Btw - what's the logic behind the new name ? Baptised again eh ?

~SuCh~ said...

you could say that... in way, this is closer to my real name... :-)

As for the change, did it out of sheer boredom... besides the prev one became quite a tongue twister for a few...

catch 22 said...

Good post, But in my house it was the other way around, My mom always wanted a Gal child and I was born so what she does the poor me had worn frocks till I was 5 with a rose in my head, I cant show my childhood photographs to anyone :(

~SuCh~ said...

@catch: The cat's out of the bag... :-) That must ve been hil-a-rious...poor u...:-)

catch 22 said...

Hilarious ? Yeah rite. Its darn embarassing. But I look really cute in those photographs though :)

Feni said...

Very nice post..

I remember my childhood days..waited near the door till my mom comes bak home from work...all those fights and demands with her for leaving me alone at home..

Good writing!

~SuCh~ said...

@feni : Thanks :-) Glad to hear I am not alone when it comes to the tantrum history.... :-)

wildflower said...

v shud lov our parents as they r, coz v r wot they made us, i owe them almost evrythin in ma life so far
n yeah very well written, a touching one also :)