Sastang Dandavat at your lotus feet Swamiji.

Dear Bou (Ma),

It has been more than 15 long years; I have left home and your lap. I have been exploring the world and am very ‘busy’ with all my assignments. But, I have never forgotten you. Yes, at times, I have forgotten to remember you. I have never explicitly expressed at least in written form about how grateful I am. You are the first person in the world even before God whom I am grateful.

You carried me in your womb for nine and half months. I caused a lot of discomfort to you during the period. You underwent a lot of physical change as well as hormonal gush – all because of me. Those stretch marks which you still bear, are because I was expanding inside you absorbing all your bodily resources. Then on the fine day, I came out to this world crying. And you were the first person to console me holding me close to your chest. You assured that, you are there for me.

You breastfed me for the next six months. I did not take even water! You were the one stop solution to all my requirements. Is not it really amazing! As you massaged me, my bones became stronger, my senses started developing further, my cells multiplied rapidly. The moment I cried, you ran to me leaving all your comforts with open arms to soothe me. Though I was not able to see properly, I was able to identify your presence from your smell. My little smile was sufficient to drive away all your fatigue. That time diapers were not in vogue, but how sincerely you changed my napkins which I made dirty so frequently. I can now realize the quantum of work done by you for me, while changing Samil’s diaper.

As I grew, you were my first Guru. You encouraged me to do those little push ups to learn how to crawl. After trying for a while when I used to get tired, you would hold me in your arms to relax my tiny limbs encouraging them for another bout of practice. Then I started standing up holding on to you. When my little mind was in doubt whether I could balance myself or not, every time you appeared and saved me from falling down. I started walking with a firm belief that you will not let me stumble and even if I stumble, you will be the pillar to support me. (All these I do not remember as I was too young to do so. My father is the reference for these events.)

I got admission into school. You dressed me in school uniform, shoes etc. You left me in school and suddenly I felt highly insecure among strangers. My eyes were searching for your reassuring face. As they did not find you, they became moist, and an ocean of pain started rolling down from them. My little mind rebelled, why did you leave me among these strangers? But after a while, my little mind understood the that it was an exercise you undertook to prepare me to face the harsh reality of the world.

I clearly remember the rainy days when you would come to pick me up from school with umbrella. As I was not able to walk properly on the waterlogged roads you would piggyback me walking down the entire distance of about one KM from school to home holding the umbrella mostly protecting me while drenching yourself in the rain. Even in class-III also it happened quite a few times. I remember those cold winter mornings when you were getting up early despite having cold and cough to prepare tiffin and send me to school at 6 AM!

I was very frail and yearly one major breakdown would happen. I would not eat anything and you remained empty stomach. If I eat something with interest and wanted more, suddenly that item would not be tasty for you and all of that item would get shifted to my plate from yours! I would eat happily without even thinking how would you finish your meal without that item? Those ludo games which you used to lose happily to lift my spirit. I remember those sleepless nights you spent as I was not feeling comfortable. The next day would sleep late into the morning while you would start the daily chores like a programmed machine. And that time there was no ‘kaamwali bai’ there to assit you.

On those Mondays, when I would be demanding an omelette and you being a typical Odia Brahmin woman who were restricted to take poultry items, (though fish and mutton were allowed) you would put your hesitations and reservations on backfoot to fulfil my wish. Now, I make omelettes of my own and even use 3 eggs. But your single egg omelette used to satisfy this egg-hungry soul much more than my triple egg omelette. Those whispering in your ears to bring 2 samosas when you go to vegetable market and you obliging me with the samosas by spending those 2 rupees earmarked for your bindi, kajal etc.., how can I ever forget them. Even today, if I am buying you something to eat, before eating you are ensuring that I have taken my larger than fair share. Even if my belly is protruding😉 and doc is telling me to reduce belly fat, you are exclaiming ‘are mera bacha kitna dubla ho gaya!” What more can I write!

After cycling to school, tuition classes, when I came back, you would massage my legs while going to bed at night and I would think that it was my right to get massaged due to the ‘hard work’ I was putting on  🫣 happily forgetting the tireless days which you were spending right from the word ‘go’ in the morning till bedtime.

I remember how anxious and nervous I would be, before exams unable to eat due to stress. With a lot of love and affection you would feed me with your frail hands even in my MSc. Physics days! You would hold me tight when I was having nightmares before the days of exam and soothe me to fall asleep.

How worried you were when I was to travel Mumbai for my first long journey back in 2007, when my friends were on their own staying in hostels several years before! I still remember the day when tears knew no bounds when you bid me adieu to leave for Hyderabad to join this job as if you were losing a part of you. And till date whenever I call you, your first enquiry invariably is “have you taken your breakfast / lunch / evening snacks / dinner?” followed by “how is your health?”

If I write, it will go on and on and on. But for all these concerns and sacrifices, I never ever told her a ‘thank you’. The word ‘gratitude’ even doesn’t have enough gratitude to be offered at the feet of my mother and not only my mother, but for all mothers in general.

Jai Shri Hari…

PS: Recently my mother had a small accident with the mixer with the revolving blades of the mixer inflicted very deep cut on the index finger of her right hand. Fortunately, no fracture is there, but the wound is deep with stitches. She is recovering slowly. And I was not even informed about the incident until 10 days. Why? Because of the same concern – “you will be worried unnecessarily to hear the news beta.” This is what is a mother!