The Badge of Motherhood

Thank you, mom.

This post about the lady who sacrificed her sleep for you will make your eyes moist.

13 ways in which your mother is a superwoman.

To that woman in your life for whom you’ll always be ‘mera baccha’.

How many times have you seen articles titled like these, floating all over your social media feeds, shared by friends, posted by strangers and endorsed by celebrities? I, for one, have lost count. Call it my cynicism, but every time I see an article with a subject line glorifying the motherhood, it fills me with a sense of deep disgust. Disgust at the way we eulogize and celebrate the sacrifices a woman makes (or rather, has to make) as a mother. Disgust at the identity (or the lack of it) that a woman is conferred with post-delivering a child. Disgust at how easily women embrace this badge of honour. Disgust at the benchmarks of love, affection and sacrifices it sets for other women. Disgust at the convenience it allows the kids, to pay back their mother.

Share an article, acknowledge what she did, pay your gratitude, and that’s it! You’re now absolved of all the guilt that you may ever have felt, for all that your mother has done for you. But what exactly does it do? Oh well, you may tell me that a mother needs nothing, but only a little acknowledgement (sprinkled with gratitude) of all that she’s done for her kids. Your mother may get fooled by this argument, but not me. I just refuse to believe that a mother does it all willingly, happily and ever so cheerfully. I think a mother does what she does for her kid(s) because thinks it is her duty to do so. The seeds of patriarchy are so deeply rooted in our collective psyches, that it seems all so natural. But is this really so?

Does a woman just forget to live for herself the moment she gives birth to (or brings home – in cases of adoption) a child? What is it in the composition of the word mother that forces her to live up to the stereotypes? Is it the fear of non-conformity?

In my understanding, it is yet another case of Individual vs. Society. As individuals and in particular, mothers don’t give up their lives for the kids willingly. While as society and in general, mothers are the quintessential sacrificial beings, who will go all out – even at the cost of letting go of their own being – for the kids.

And hence, these formal announcements of gratitude disgust me. Because more than an acknowledgement of the sacrifices a mother makes, they reek of the subtle reinforcement of the ‘ideals’ and stereotype that a mother is supposed to live up to. In a twisted manner, they remind a woman of all that she’s supposed to be and do, as a mother. Notwithstanding her own identity, desires and ideas of raising a kid.

I don’t know what’s the solution to this. Or if this is even a problem in the first place. But what I would love to see some semblance in this world of acknowledgement and gratitude. Maybe we don’t need to put her on a pedestal, treating her like a mythical goddess. A mother is a real, living being – occupying the same cosmos as you, so maybe it’s about time that we started treating her as one. And we definitely don’t need to ascribe to her the sole identity of a mother – ignoring her existence as a woman, as an individual. But more than anything else, I’d love to see mothers acknowledging the unwillingness to make all those sacrifices in the name of motherhood. I would love to see them as humans, not superhumans that they are made out to be.

Love. And then some.

Lately, I’ve not been writing. And I’ve not been writing not because I don’t have things to write about, but because I think I don’t have time to write. But that’s bullshit. We all know that time is never a constraint when the task at hand is important enough. So that’s the thing, I’ve been ignoring writing in pursuit of seemingly more important stuff.

Something happened this morning, which made me go, “Oh, I should write that down!”. And then I realized, I have not written something in so long, so how to just pick up the pieces and start? But that’s exactly how, you just pick up the pieces, and start.

Do you believe in love? Not just the romantic-doe-eyed-abused-by-Hollywood-and-Bollywood-alike-oh-that’s-so-cheesy-who-talks-about-forevers-and-beyond-and-happily-ever-after-but-maybe-such-a-thing-does-exist-and-I-am-not-made-for-it-but-someday-it-will-come-to-me kind of love, but love as a universal feeling. Love as a unifying force, love as kindness, love as concern, love as regret, love as what makes your world a happier place – love as just that, love. Do you believe in it? I can’t say I don’t. And not after what happened this morning.

A man just threw a bagful of biscuits around the pack of dogs that I was feeding. And my heart just sank. In that split-second, I felt stupid and insecure. I felt scared that the puppies I thought I had befriended – the puppies I was trying to discipline, by having them wait for their turn till the others finish and letting them eat only when they were being fed, not like a bunch of rowdies that they will eventually turn into, I felt scared that these babies will now abandon me, given that better food awaits them, which they can hog on unabashed. In that split-second, I also told myself that it was silly, to expect loyalty and love from a bunch of stray dogs who don’t owe you anything. I told myself that it’s alright for them to abandon you and turn to that big pile of food. And then suddenly it struck me, while I was busy consoling myself for the impending love lost, the dogs were still sitting in line patiently, still eating out of my hands when it was their turn, sitting looking at me with their gleaming eyes – despite the big fat pile of food lying just next to them.

That was the time I believed in love. Pure, unadulterated love. Love that speaks through the eyes. Love that sees beyond the obvious. Love that understands without words. Love that makes the world – my world – a happier place. Love as just that, love.

So, do you believe in love?

The One Who Walked Away

It’s not about him. It’s about me.

And the moment I realized that, I owned the pain. Like my own. Guarding it fiercely from the world.

“You protested when I said that the purpose of life is to be happy. YOU wanted to experience the plethora of emotions, ranging from longing to ecstasy to sadness to deadness. So, here you are.”

“In life, there are some things which you cannot understand. So, you shouldn’t even try to. Just think that you were to go through this.”

“You will never know his reasons. Only your reactions. Manage them well.”

“You would have kept looking for a sign, and there would be none. Because sometimes, things just happen. And you are not supposed to know why or how. You are just supposed to live through it.”

“Know that you did the right thing. And rest, you don’t anyway have a control over.”

“What he did was his Karma. How you take it is yours.”

“Don’t beat yourself up for giving love a chance.”

5 events that made me a stronger person in 2013.

So the birthday month is here again. The last year has been a roller-coaster ride, with many events helping me become a stronger person than I was earlier. Five of them which had the most impact on me are listed below, in chronological order:

  1. Getting back with an ex. Always a great idea. Reassures you of the decision-taking ability. And leaves no scope of regrets and what-ifs. If it had to work out, it would have worked out in the first go. But good to be sure. No hang-ups or remorse that “oh, maybe I didn’t try enough!”. Also, a wonderful reminder of what you don’t want in your life!
  2. Playing a bridesmaid. From sneaking the groom in the bride’s room before the ceremonies to playing the gatekeeper; from taking care of bride’s outfits to holding her hands while mehendi is being applied; from feeding the bride to dancing non-stop; from distinguishing the buas from the chachis to demanding shagun from the groom; from weeping inadvertently at the bidaai to making sure bride’s mum doesn’t shed many tears – it’s all just so much fun. And the fact that you can’t feel your legs at the end of it only makes you appreciate the hard work that went in making of the fun.
  3. Losing a loved one. Jimmy taught me to love. Before he came into my life, I hadn’t experienced the pure emotion of affection for a nobody. He arrived, and things changed. He would sleep beside me, wake me up with his soft nudges, motivate me to be fit by demanding a brisk walk every morning, eat from my hands, wait outside the washroom lest I disappear, hug me silly on my return from classes, ride on my Activa with me, cry when my bags were being packed, stop eating when I was away, wait in the balcony when he knew my visit was due, spread his silky hair all over my wardrobe and be characteristically himself. But he gave in to a fatal lung infection, and we had to put him down. I will always remember him as my green-eyed lover boy, teaching me to be generous and selfless in giving love and affection.
  4. Facing death. And having the narrowest escape. Enough has been said about it, won’t repeat it here. But undoubtedly, the most scary, scarring and life-changing experience I’ve had till date.
  5. Moving back in with parents. After almost six years of being on my own. Too early to comment on it, as I’m still coming to terms with it. But can very easily say, it’s difficult. Too damn difficult to cohabit with folks, when you’re used to a resounding solitude.

A Note From The Universe

In the middle of a rant-y, cranky and generally pissed off mood, I got this note from the universe:

Behind your greatest fear, Neha, lies your greatest gift.

And your greatest gift will be the example you become.

 

You’re welcome,

The Universe

 

And I have been smiling now. :) Thank you, Universe!