DEAR MOM

Dear mom,

I have never written about you. I have written about girls I have liked but never written about you. So here I sit down and type this letter just for you, dear mom. Although I don’t have clear memories of my early childhood and never asked you if it was easy for you to give up your job as a nurse to look after me, to take care of me, help me grow up, I thank you for that. It may have been a difficult decision for you to make I assume, but you still did it for me. Women are hardly asked about the effect of quitting their jobs to care for a baby or look after the family. It is expected of them, so much so that in certain cases if the newlywed wife doesn’t intend to give up her career she is criticized unfairly by others. Of course, things are changing in the present times but men are never expected or asked to give up their careers to bring up a son or daughter. You were so practical and did it anyway just for me so that I could receive your love from the moment I was born.

Mom, we don’t talk much. I mean at least when I compare with my friends talking to their mothers I don’t think we talk much. But I tell you things I would never have the courage to tell dad. I tell you about the girl I like, about the time I went to meet her. You ask me if we watched a movie and I say “no, no”. And I always feel very happy when you ask me to get KFC’s zinger burger whenever I go to a mall. Can I tell you something more? I have many close friends who are women, and also if I wanted to have a sibling it would be an elder or younger sister. Perhaps it’s the way in which women-kind can empathize and sympathize that makes them such amazing people, whom one can easily confide in, and talk about most things under the sun without being made fun off. I have guy friends too who share this trait but they are a rarity.

You know the one thing which is so underappreciated and equally undervalued is the immense hard-work you put in maintaining the home and family. It might seem that you are duty-bound to do it but the commitment and perseverance you show is just unbelievable. I have seen you washing clothes early-morning during the winters, do the dishes, when dad and I either just sit in front of the television or doze-off. I have seen you enthusiastically waking up early to prepare breakfast so that dad can go to the office and I can go to school on time, even though you might be running a fever. You never have any designated days as holidays. Dad has off days at work. I have off days as a student. But you never have. I heard you saying once “we women never have a day off”. I didn’t understand it then but now I do. Especially after you fell ill last Christmas and I had to help out dad with the household work. I realized how effortlessly you do the entire body of work without complaining about your grievances. I know I have let you down, by not providing more help in maintaining the house and share the chores to reduce your workload. But I intend to work on it. Men have so-called “more important jobs” and women are left to do the “unimportant, menial tasks”. I don’t think anymore that women do unimportant tasks. Their contribution is as important and sometimes even more as the husband’s or the son’s. I have to make sure that you have holidays too and that we share the household workload more.

Mom, I love your liking for water-less puchkas and excitement for an occasional “yum-yum chili-chicken”. I love your eyes lighting up for steamed-momos, rosgollas and misthi-doi. I love the sweet mango pickle, our “jelly-pickle” you make during the summers and the kheer you make whenever I return home for holidays. I get so delighted when you prepare “tikhil-asma” and “bairka-asma” and our favorite, though tasteless yet very fulfilling “thappa-roti”. I miss the “osa-dishes” you made when I was small. I used to love mushrooms at that point of time. I miss our walks back from primary school. Mom, you know what quality of yours I love the most. Well, it isn’t just one. It’s your humility, your perseverance, your silent sacrifices without ever making a big deal about it, your quiet stillness and calm amidst all chaos, the way you stay calm and brave even during earthquakes when dad gets all panicky and scampers out of the house like a rat. We both know about that. I have grown up to be a bit like you, mom. I definitely look like you and I have some of your qualities, though not up to your level but I am working on it. And I have so much more to say and write but I will stop here now. I know words are never enough and I don’t say this enough but I love you, mom.

A MODEST HUMAN BUT A GUTSY WOMAN

I have never seen someone that jolly and cheerful as her. It was very easy to know whether she was present or absent in the class. The reason was crystal clear, her loud voice and laughter. I had never seen her sitting sad or tired. She never used to keep people waiting. She used to speak what she thought to be correct according to her. When she used to scold someone, it was more like a loving and authoritative reprimand than insulting. But she never used to leave a person go easily 😛 . She believed in clarifying the matter more than keeping it in a hanging state. In our class, she was known as a ‘Clean Hearted Girl’, having no ambiguity within her. That was something commendable about her!

I am happy that I could relate to her so much because of our similar body structures. Is it necessary to announce that we were thin? 😊

She used to ride a bike much before the ad came up with the tagline – “Why should boys have all the fun”. She was having the fun even before the bike company even realized to make a jingle to sell its product. She was not tomboyish, but a beautiful and flamboyant girl.

She had kept friendship with as many people as possible in the class, unlike other girls. She was quite limitless in knowing and making friends. She was never a shy girl – not to flaunt around though but to keep decent friendship with all. That’s a pretty unusual attitude of hers which I admire a lot. In today’s world, when every feminist is fighting and shouting for issues like gender equality, my friend declared it with ease that she is equal to a man by her attitude and action in various aspects of life. She didn’t have to fight for it or shout for it or even try to prove it, but she lived it with her utter modesty.

No, I am not contradicting with what I said about her previously as not being a shy girl and what I said now about her being modest. Actually, I can put it this way – She was modest as a human, she was gutsy as a girl. And I believe, she possesses the same quality even today, though she had to go through many traumatic life situations in her life later.

We studied together at Utkal University, Bhubaneswar for our post-graduation during the year 1997-1999. We were very good friends when we were in University, but we became close friends only after our studies. Usually, after a certain time in life people tend to lose their college and university friends. Even I did so. Presently, I am rarely in touch with any of my college and university friends. But the best part of our friendship is, we are still friends and in touch with each other. She never forgets to call me to wish on my birthday and Christmas every year. It was she who never let our friendship go, not even after she got married. Yeah, we had lost track in the middle for some time, while we went ahead in different career searches but we found our friendship back on track, after few months of her marriage.

There were quite a few hurdles that she had to cross over in her life – she biggest being, she lost her husband last year. She was utterly broken, she is broken even now, I know it very well. But I also know that she will get over it soon with the grace of God.

We grew in maturity with regards to our friendship, thanks to her. She knew how to own a relationship, a friendship. A few days ago, while talking with her on the phone, she addressed me as ‘Bhai‘ (Brother). And I knew she meant it wholeheartedly.

Dharashree! Yeah, that’s her name. I treasure her and our friendship for a lifetime. I believe a woman like her can bring a lot of change in this world.

Today, when the world around us has so many broken relationships, lost promises and loose-ended friendships, a woman like Dharashree can play a very important role to bring things together and on track. Only a woman like her, can win people, own them and live with all in peace.

A woman like my friend ‘Dharashree’, justifies why we all should celebrate the International Women’s Day again this year in 2019.