I called my mother ‘Bau’. Probably I am talking of the only person in this existence who had been my friend and my guide, in the true sense. Not clichéd on this one to write paeans about one’s mother even if beyond rational. This is true for all mothers for everyone, and I hope this helps further in reposing all love in all the mothers.
Though a housewife, born to a well-heeled family, both paternal as well as marital (in laws), it is the perseverance and the dignity with which she lived made her one of the most well-known and regarded “active/working housewives” of the state. She never earned, never worked, always dependent on her husband’s income and yet carved a niche for herself. We, her children are known as her progeny rather than our father’s or our famous families. Is this empowerment? She wasn’t aware of this jargon because for her this was a normal practice, a way of life. Enjoying her husband’s social status, nobody ever saw her misusing power.
A friend to the domestic help, the domestic help’s family, the domestic help’s community, she could go on and on in her search for avenues to get closer to the earth. Is this being rooted? She never thought that this needed any publicity. She was never known to save wealth, as many housewives do and this was drilled into us, her children, as her ‘mindless extravaganza’ by some during our formative years. This spending was not even once for her own jewelry or garments or any other form of self aggrandizement.
Now we know how many beneficiaries she has left behind in the house and outside the house. Is this selflessness? She is not aware that we remember her today for this. She never ever flaunted her ‘giving’.
Bau attended all the social gatherings, even the ones we would find difficult to relate to, hosted by remotest of our extended family relations. She was always there, even to the disdain of her own family. Now we see all of them coming to stand by us. Is this being social? I wouldn’t know. But she was the fulcrum of the society around her. She built institutions, without ever planning for one or craving for one.
She has been a littérateur, a social worker, an institution builder, an eternal and incorrigible optimist, a great thinker with limited knowledge of English, a larger – than middle class housewife in spite of no economic independence, a god fearing person but not ritualistic, and always emotional for others and utterly negligent about herself. We discussed RD Burman music, we discussed Rajesh Roshan music, we discussed literature, we discussed politics, we discussed political figures, we discussed Shirdi Baba, we discussed sports, we shared jokes, we discussed love affairs, and we discussed life.
She got me to life, she keeps me in life and she guides me from there. I see her every evening, close to the moon and twinkling selflessly. How am I so small, being born to her? I often wonder in this crazy life with no time to even remember my mother’s tears……… Thanks the ‘Mother’s’ day for reminding to dedicate a few words, as if I am doing a favour. Keep blessing, my creator, Bau.
(In the memory of my mother Late Mrs. Mandakini Panigrahi, Founder Secretary Odisha Lekhika Sansad)