Those of you who read this blog know that I am a big fan of the mother. Everyday her strength of character amazes me. I always had a huge amount of respect for my mother. But what I’ve seen her do in the last few months with her tireless perseverance in getting my father back on his feet has me in awe of her. It does her great disservice when people say that she does it because she is a dutiful wife. It implies that she has to. Out of a sense of obligation. She does not do it because of those vows she’s taken. If she can completely disregard the vow to obey the man (so God help him if he asks her to) then clearly it isn’t because she is duty bound. She does it out of love. But more so she does it out of compassion and her desire to see him lead the life he was meant to. Growing up I never quite understood my mother’s quiet dignity. I couldn’t understand how someone could be both fierce and gentle in equal measure. I never understood why she harped on me having my emotions under control at all times. Control your emotions, she told me, don’t let them control you. My mother always used to and still abhors any public display of emotion. Whether it is extreme excitement or worse still anger. I was always told that no matter what the situation, if something needs to be said it can be said in the privacy of our home, without spectators, without an audience.
In all the years I’ve been alive, I can count the times my mother has been vulnerable. Unlike my mother, my father does not have qualms about displaying vulnerability. The incessant inquiries about the progress of his recovery makes the man a bit emotional. Now I do not do emotional. At least not in public. And as stone hearted as this may sound, I do not appreciate overt displays of emotion (the mother’s hope that I get the emotions under control may have back fired a bit). Whining, crying and the addiction to sympathy does not help. My mother might get momentarily shaken by a spot of trouble, but in true style, she gets up, shrugs it off and does what needs to be done. Where she manages to get the emotional and mental strength from, no one will ever know.
A true test of someone’s personality is how they behave when they’re sick. That’s the real you. The most authentic, unadulterated, no poops are given you. In 2015 my mother got dengue. Because she doesn’t do anything by halves, it wasn’t the ordinary little owwie dengue that she got- it was dengue shock syndrome. She was in the ICU for 5 days, 2 of which had the doctors looking grim and not making any promises. With her organs going into shock, she drifted in and out of conscious. Yet with liver enzymes through the roof, a platelet count of less than 5000, hemorrhaging from the teeth, fluid in the abdomen and the worst case of pneumonia she was the most pleasant person Manipal’s ICU had ever seen. She thanked the nurses constantly, she apologized for the trouble she caused them, she smiled freely and willingly and her standard response to being asked how she was was that she was doing very well. She’s a liar but I was never more proud to be her daughter. She was as dignified in the ICU as she is out of it. Every day when I visited, I was told that there was no greater gift I could’ve got than my mother. Never a truer word has been spoken.
It is also from my mother than I have got a distaste for the melodramatic. Like her, I do not understand fuss. Like her, I do not like to say I’m busy even when the work has been so much that loo breaks are few and far between. Unfortunately for me one side of the family has a flair for the dramatic and the other is much ado about nothing and so it takes double the effort to fight the natural instinct to overreact. In time hopefully with constant trying I will get close to where my mother is in terms of a clear head and thought processes and overall sanity but the struggle is real and won’t be easy. Yet with all my mother’s inner strength, her fierceness and her power, not once has she chastised me for my many moments of weakness. Instead she displays a gentleness I have never seen in a woman as strong. A recognition of my insecurities and fears even though she cannot relate to nor understand them. I have never been rebuked for having vulnerabilities even though she displays none. Maybe the total and complete acceptance of everything I am that I have received from her has never given me reason to search elsewhere for it.
I am the way I am because of my mother’s influence in my life (the jury’s out on whether that’s a good thing though). My personality is a reflection of what I was shown and taught. But my mother had no one to show her. She had no one to teach her. The last of a gazillion kids, she barely knew her own mother and knew even less of her father. Everything that she is, is her own. The voice in her head is her own. Her personality is her own. Her strength is her own. Her convictions are her own. And that is the force that is my mother.