Sunday, December 2, 2018

What's in a name ?

The alarm goes off and I sleepily try to snooze, when I notice that its 6:30 already and jump out of bed. I have to be out the door at 7:30. 30 minutes later I am hurrying downstairs to grab a bowl of cereal, I smell freshly made coffee and hear the sound of mustard seeds spluttering (couldn't help but think of ''pasi konda neram thalikum osai sandhosha sangeetham'') and there is amma bringing me a plate of crispy dosas with chutney and cup of coffee. While I am eating it, she is making me a lunch box with savory biryani and deep fried potatoes. As I groan about how I am eating too much, she says ''sapdu, sapdu, vela pakka thembu vendama'' and I grin to myself thinking of how much ''thembu'' do I need to sit at a desk all day.

My daughter had made a friend at school. The girls hung out all the time and liked each other a lot. I casually mentioned this to amma and she said ''why not call them for lunch or dinner this saturday''? I thought it was a great idea and I texted the father of the girl and asked him if he and his family could join us for a meal. He wrote back saying ''Let me check with my husband and get back to you''. It was then I realised that he was in a same sex marriage and I wasnt quite sure how amma felt about it. So I asked her and in her usual diplomacy and tact, she said ''That little girl loves my grand daughter and is her best friend. What more could we want''. Not only did the couple love amma's food, the father even made play dates with amma so that the kids could meet, when I was busy. 

Amma was coming with us to Malta for vacation. Because it was quite hot there, I suggested we go shopping for some summer-friendly clothes. I wasn't quite sure she will warm up to the idea of tunics, straw hats and glasses. But that's exactly what she did - she chose great but inexpensive (mothers have a way of finding good deals!) outfits and carried them off with great panache ! Amma never shied away from trying something new.

I was traveling to Chicago for work. My flight was delayed. Immigration took forever. Traffic was crazy. So by the time, I got to the hotel, it was 3 hours later than usual. There was a flurry of whatsapp messages from amma asking me if I had reached the hotel, asking me to be safe, to drink a lot of water to fight jet lag, to rest well before going into work. I thought to myself, even in your 30s, only moms can treat you like a teenage girl.

I was in India for my sister-in-law's wedding. Amma comes to me, hands me a jewelry box. When I open it, its a pretty gold necklace and while I am admiring it, she says ''nee muhurthathula pottuko''. There is no occasion, no birthday, no anniversary. She just got me a necklace because she felt like it.

I came home for summer holidays and noticed there was a brand new keyboard in the living room. I asked amma about it and she said ''Oh..yes, I have too much time, so I decided to learn how to play the keyboard. I have only passed level 1 exams, so there is a long way to go'', she said wistfully, while she was serving me home made cake (that she had learnt to make in a baking class she had taken). I turned to the living room and saw the line of students there who had come home for taking music lessons from her. A music teacher, who traveled, baked, cooked like you wouldn't believe, took care of the household and still thought she had too much time on her hands - that was amma !

I joined amma for a walk to the park while I was home for a summer break. I went there to see a crowd of mamis who were all excited at seeing amma and after she introduced me to them, almost everyone was ''awe-struck'' because apparently my dearest amma had talked about me to them non-stop, saying how smart, kind, beautiful, nice and thoughtful I was and how lucky she was to have me as her ''daughter-in-law''.

If only they had known - she didn't know how to be a mother-in-law, she was always a mother, she never knew how else to be.....

I will miss her, every single day.
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