Every time I write something, it is like gathering ideas and thoughts scattered all over, bunching them together and shaping them to somehow makes sense. But this process also brings a sort of finality to the ideas. Once they are captured, they stop being the very things that inspired me to write in the first place.
Maybe that's the reason I can't write about my mother. I do write about incidents involving her, but I can't write generically about her. The thoughts I have about are too many and scattered too randomly over 46 years of my life - gathering them is nearly impossible. They are hard to capture also because they are evolving, changing, growing every day. Also, gathering them will mean there will be a finality to these thoughts, and I can't allow that. She is a constant source of inspiration and self-knowledge and I need it to be like that.
Today is her 74th birthday. She is in her favorite Dharamshala, alone. I wish I was with her right now but can't be, so writing this as a birthday gift. The thoughts I have tried to capture here are bits and pieces about what I have learned from her. But no finality or boundaries here- there is lots more that I haven't even figured as yet.
From her, I learned to be brave. I have never seen her scared of any challenge that life throws in her way. She took up a WHO fellowship in her early thirties and lived in the US alone for a year. It was her first trip abroad, working with absolute strangers and getting used to a totally different lifestyle. If that didn't require bravery, I wonder what did. Once when she was the Principal of LHMC and there were student demonstrations clamoring for her dismissal, I was shaking but she was unafraid. She was not even afraid at 60 of moving with my dad (who needed a lot of care) to a small town and starting a new life. And now, she is not afraid of living her life alone on her own terms despite what everyone tells her.
From her, I have learned how to have fun. When I was six, she blew my little mind by playing a trick on all of us- she returned from her year-long trip abroad with short hair. This was early 1970's and decent Indian women were not supposed to cut their hair. Her short hair caused so much turmoil in the family- my brother refused to hug her, my grandfather, her father, called her a "Par-kati kabootri (wingless pigeon)" and the elders on my father's side found it scandalous. Then a couple of hours later, she took of her wig and exposed her still long lovely hair! She created a memory that hasn't faded in 40 years and triggered a certain mad streak in all of her kids.
Happy birthday Chandrama, my cool as the moon Mommy, and quite as loony. May you have a great great day today, with your butterflies and flowers and mountains and the khudd and the sunset. May you live fully in health for at least another 20 years so I can learn more from you and get a chance to do your "seva".