You have been living with me in Bangalore for the last month. A month filled with the warm, fuzzy, comfortable and secure feeling that I always get when you are around. For me it has been a month where I have conveniently been able to forget everything I learnt about cooking from your able self. It has meant forgetting the way to the kitchen, except to come to chat with you, perched next to the stove while you cooked one dish after the other for kuttan, hubby and myself. I thank you for that.
It has also meant that I have had some worry free and mainly guilt-free hours at work while I knew that kuttan was basking in all the attention and food showered on him by you and dad. It has meant some gossip sessions lying next to you in the bed while you were reading, talking to you endlessly about people in the family and getting to know, all over again, how witty, wise and accurate your perceptions are. It has meant that, for a month, I have been given the luxury of being something I am not...of knowing the carefree feeling of a child again, a feeling that I get only when you are around. I thank you for all that.
But, amma, for a person who judges and understands human beings so accurately, I do believe that your peceptions are skewed many times. I also know that you will never, ever admit it. But what really bothers me is that you apply the same skewed perception to me, your own daughter!
I know you belong to the old school of thought. I know you still think that the way to a man's heart is thorugh his stomach. I know you think small children should stay home with their mothers and learn the ways of the world through their mother's words. I know all this amma, because this is the way your brought me up. Because I have seen you waking up at 5 in the morning to pack breakfast for me, as I left for an early morning tution, even though there was a perfectly good canteen I could and would have loved to eat from.
Because, you have unfailingly made appa's favorite snacks for him day after day, year after year for the last 33 years. And still continue to make an extra chutney for him, unfailingly devoted. Even if you are sick and tired. Even if you really dont feel like it. I know you did all this amma because this is your way of showing us how much you love us. And believe me, I do know. And I do appreciate.
But what you dont understand is that your way is not necessarily mine. May not even necessarily be what my husband and son need or expect from me. I, for one, do not believe in making 10 different dishes in a day. I do not believe I need to feed kuttan his breakfast and then rush to get hubby his breakfast and stand over him dutifully while he eats it. I believe he is a grown man perfectly capable of getting his own cereal and pouring milk over it and eating it without my help.
I do not believe that the world will end if kuttan does not eat dinner AND two different servings of fruit EVERY single day. There are days when I dont even HAVE time to buy fruits. My house does not run with the same military discipline that yours does. I do not know when the maid took the last detergent from the store and I dont keep count. But we're ok with it.
Whatever may be said and done amma, I am your daughter and I did learn my values from you. Together, hubby and I have created a life of our own and we are happy with it. Our life is filled with joy, color and conversation. And love. I know I forget to give kuttan his oil massage sometimes but I never, ever forget to read his stories at night. I know I give hubby the same brekfast two days in a row sometimes but I never, ever forget to tell him how much I love him and how perfect I think he is. And they are happy.
The problem lies with me, amma. Even today, as a grown woman who will turn 30 in a year's time, I still hanker after your approval. I still come running to you, the way kuttan does, after making a particularly clever arrangement with his blocks, and I still look up at you with the same adoration hoping you will say something nice.
Something nice about the way I am managing a child, home and a career. Something nice about how well I am doing at work, about all the appreciation and awards that I get from my workplace. About the determined way in which I clawed my way back into a job and a career after staying home for 2 years inspite of the countless difficulties on the way. About my very big dreams and ambitions for myself and my family. But, somehow, I come to you with childish excitement amma and I always sense your disapproval.
'How long can a woman work after all? Why do you want to do an MBA?', you ask. 'No matter how well you do outside, cooking and keeping a clean home is what will make a man really happy..y do u think B is so unhappy with S even though she is so succesful? Its because she doesnt COOK at home..', you tell me disdainfully.
Now the said B is a serious psycho and given to rage attacks and is almost a split personality. And S will not even be alive today if it hadnt been for her career. And you in your infinite wisdom think some appam and kozhukattai will solve all their problems. At times I laugh at your naivete amma, but at times, it makes me want to pull out my hair and scream...
I just wish you would try to understand me a little better amma. Your only child. And that you would'nt want me to be a mould of yourself. But going forward, if I ever find that you were right, I promise you I will not be too egoistic to admit it to you.
Till then, hubby eats his own cereal and my MBA plans are definitely on.
I love you, amma!!
Your loving Daughter