… or was it? What day was it? Not Sunday again?
She groaned into her pillow, wishing it were Monday, or any of the days except Sunday.
On all those other days she had to get up and get everything ready for her children, her husband and of course for herself, as they rushed about getting ready to go their separate ways for a day of dedicated work. Hah. All of them but her. Her dedicated work began and never ended, did it? But, at least she did not have to endure their presence in the house.
She remembered how it used to be; her children hanging on to her maxi, as she went to work at three different houses. The ladies of those houses always accommodated her kids and ensured they had enough to eat; books to take to school, and even helped out with uniforms and what little fees needed to be paid at the Government School they attended. They even bought her medicines, especially when she bruised or was sick because of the wonderful care her husband took of her. She sighed.
And then, one day, her kids grew up. Did not need her. Never visited the houses she worked at. They forgot the paths they once walked upon. They completed college, got jobs, white collar ones of course, and berated her for going on as a domestic help. How could she tell them she was more part of the families of those houses than she would ever be, at her own?
Every day, diligently, she’d still cater for her children and the husband. He worked too, but never had she seen his money run their house. She had those dreams, that once her son grew up to be a man, he’d at least get his father to share. Like father … she stopped herself. He was young still. Only twenty. He could change. She prayed he would, though hope shrivelled inside, in the drought of love and concern.
Her daughter, the older one, was well on her way to becoming the very antithesis of her own self. Self assertive, pushy, arrogant and quite discourteous to everyone, especially her mother. Anger lay close to the surface in their interactions. The daughter with her plans for herself, quite oblivious to the quiet suffering. She had dreams, the mother did, of the day when a pro-active daughter and mother duo would make things right at home, and make her husband accountable. The tables had turned quite suddenly. Now she was brought to book by father and daughter for asking them to contribute to household expenses…
And to think that each new day, all these years past, she would, with deep devotion and utter certainty pronounce to the Chechis at whose houses she worked, that one day, one day they would earn, and ensure that there was a bit of burden lifted off her shoulders. Her dreams quietly shattered one by one. After a point she stopped caring about them. She did what she always did best. Kept on with her vocation.
Wearily, she turned on her back, and peered at the clock on the wall, seen faintly in the light from the street lamp just outside their house, that came in through the uncurtained window. Five O’clock. Today was going to be worse. This Sunday, her husband’s sister and family of four daughters, three sons-in-law and five grandchildren were to visit. And sure as hell, she wasn’t going to get any help. She’d already asked for the day off from the Chechis. In a few hours they’d be here. She should start now itself.
A bath and prayers followed by the humdrum Kitchen work made her even more melancholic. Why couldn’t she assert herself more? She ought to. She’d brought up kids who could say no so easily. And put their foot down. Be stubborn and single-minded in their objective. Did they learn it from her? So why could she not? In three hours, all the time mulling over what she needed to do, she had finished her cooking and cleaning. Setting up everything on the table, and on the kitchen counter of the place she had lovingly come to make her own, she quickly made up her mind, and followed through, before she could fall prey to anxiety.
She woke her husband, and children.
I have to go, she said. It’s time. Their blank stares further strengthened her resolve.
But you said they gave you a day off, he said. And my sister and her family, what about them?
Well, what about them, she asked. I’ve made everything they need, and you all are here to entertain the family. She’s always thought I was too superior anyway and I don’t want to disappoint her by being better than I could!
They spluttered in rage. Ranted.
Quietly, she changed into her work clothes, and left, relieved. On the way out, she saw the Malayalam daily on the verandah. The front page had a picture of a mother and child, with a caption that translated – “Maatrudinaashamsagal” (Greetings on Mother’s Day!)There is nothing that is greater than the security of a mother’s loving arms!”
Her spirits lifted. She wished herself, and walked briskly.
11 May, 2013, for 12 May 2013
(Pic Courtesy Google Image Search)
Wishing all those whose nurturing has moulded souls to stand on their own two feet. To all those Mothers who know of nothing, but the affection that becomes them. To my own mother, my father 🙂 Mummy, we don’t tell you this often enough, but we ought to. Other than just on Mothers’ Day. You ARE the thread that holds us all together! Always, but always we’re blessed because we’re yours. I pray we’ll always be as blessed!