A Mother’s Day Story
It is still dark when she wakes up. The rooster will not announce morning for another hour at least. There is a thick mist on this winter morning, seen clearly in the yellow light of the street lamp. She sees her husband sleeping under the thick blanket, a smile on his face. She knows that her son will be asleep like that in the next room. That makes her smile too. Tying her hair in a bun, she goes to brush her teeth, and then heads to the kitchen.
There are vegetables in a vessel. She has soaked them all night. Draining the water into the sink, she takes some tomatoes out, and puts them on the cutting board.
“Do I cut it different today, just for a change?” she wonders, knowing the two of them like it in a particular way. She decides to do it, and humming a tune, starts to cut. There is a rhythm to her cutting, the sound of the knife moving quickly on the cutting board echoes through the silent kitchen.
“Do I add some more spice this time? Or would it be too much? Maybe some tamarind paste would be better.”
The recipes are in her head, just like they had been in her mother’s head. She knows them by heart. Yet, she is also excited to experiment. A pinch of this, a touch more of that… who knows, maybe the dish will be even better. The vegetables cut; she puts the milk to boil. A cup of hot tea on the cold winter morning is important. Letting the milk boil, she goes back to the room to wake the two of them.
To do that on such a morning, she has to use every trick in the book. When she succeeds, she pushes her son to the bathroom to finish his morning chores. Her husband, though sleepy, comes to the kitchen to help. He makes the tea, while she begins on the dish. There are no spoons. She adjusts the recipe with a practiced hand, tasting every time. When she’s happy with the taste, she leaves it to cook, and takes the tea her husband gives her.
Hearing the child in the shower, she goes to the room and puts the school uniform on the bed, arranging it neatly. There’s a freshly pressed shirt and trousers, vests and briefs, the black leather belt, the socks, the shoes, and the blue sweater because it is cold. She places his ID card nearby as well. The school diary is checked once again to see if all the homework has been completed, and then she signs it. She goes back to the kitchen, knowing he likes to do the dressing part on his own.
By then, the curry is ready. She takes the dosa batter from the fridge, and starts to make the dosas. It has to be that perfect thickness, that perfect round shape. She does it effortlessly. As she puts the dosas on a plate, her husband takes it, folds it, and puts it into the two tiffin boxes. He also packs the curry.
She sees that her son is ready, sitting at the dining table with a text book open in front of him. There’s a class test he has to revise for. She takes a plate of dosas and curry and feeds him as he studies. Soon, the honk of the school bus outside the gate alerts her, and she pushes him quickly to the gate. If he misses the bus, he misses school for the day.
“A mother’s job is never done,” she sighs, going back inside.
While her husband gets ready, she quickly cleans the house with the duster. When he heads off to work, she takes her bath, and then sits down to peacefully have her breakfast. She then makes some more dosas for her tiffin box. She is the last to leave, so she doesn’t make hers earlier.
At her office too, she’s the one everyone turns to for troubleshooting. From the moment her work hours start, the questions begin.
“Can this be done like this, ma’am?”
“Are those reports ready to be sent?”
Yet, under the seemingly endless volley of doubts and queries, she doesn’t crumble. She has to be efficient to ensure that there isn’t any mistake in the numbers.
When she reaches home after an exhausting day at work, she lies down on the bed knowing she’ll get half an hour, maybe an hour at most. before a routine similar to that of the morning. Make tea, then think of what to make for dinner. If there are leftovers, it makes her work slightly easier. While the food gets ready, she checks on the child to make sure his schoolwork is up to speed. She lives in Math formulae, Chemistry reactions and laws of Physics. Her husband takes the language lessons.
From dawn to dinner time, her day is non-stop. And yet, she does it with a smile. Not for that small paycheck that comes at the end of every month, but for her biggest prize – the hug her son gives each night before she goes to bed.
“I love you, Ma.”
Maybe it’s those four priceless words that give her the energy to get up again the next day, and do it all over again – a similar yet different mother’s day story.
(© Vinay Leo R. @ I Rhyme Without Reason,
8th August, 2017)