Tribute to mother

With Amma in Agra, in the winter of 2011.

Let me hear your song again mother.
That song ridden with pain and agony,
Which you have often sung to me.
For in hearing it, I can feel the pain

Through which you have been all your life.
You think I will not understand it, perhaps,
For, I have never experienced the same.
But I promise you, I’ll listen to it with all my heart.

I have the same brown eyes, mother,
Wrapped in wrinkled eyelids. The same tears
Flow through them, those useless salted pearls,
Once a symbol of womanly weakness.

All you wanted was a bit of love, right?
A tender loving hand that would support you
In distress and pamper you with caress
And make you forget the world…?

But violent hands bent you in force, they broke you almost!
I can see now how your mother (her tale, another song of pain)
Had thought of you as no less than a burden, only meant to wash
Clothes, cook food, remain indoors, and lay rotting thus for life.

You thought marriage would be a means to escape
From that house, which overwhelmed you
With memories of a bitter childhood. But
You only ended up in a deeper predicament.

For, you became someone else’s burden now.
And your life became a monotone of melancholy
Hummed in lonely corners of the one-room
Apartment where you spent the prime of your life.

From that corner of your heart where motherhood
Lay rooted, and from the cracks that were formed
Due to suppressed desire, burst a fount of fury; you
Rebelled in silence, nourishing your womb with dreams.

And the sole aim of your life became the education
Of your daughters, to make them capable enough
So that they may lead a life of freedom and dignity.
Now, after years of nurturing, I stand before you.

A different individual but your reflection all the same,
With the same brown eyes, wrapped in wrinkled eyelids.
The same tears flow through them, those useless salted
Pearls. But today your daughter proudly bears testimony

To that inheritance of patient suffering.
I shall sing this song for the whole world to hear, mother.
But I wonder if I shall ever be able to sacrifice as did you,
Or carry forward this legacy, this pillar of womanly strength.


Published by Vidya Venkat

Ph.D. candidate in Anthropology at SOAS, London. Formerly, journalist at The Hindu, Chennai.

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