Tuesday, 12 May 2015

To Be Compassionate And Straight With The Mother

It was a festive occasion and the house was full of people, everybody being busy in some or the way other. It was the sacred thread ceremony of the eldest brother.  My father, a development officer of the LICI, had made all the preparations strictly according to the instructions of a number of priests. There was an aura of purity in the air because of the incantations being chanted and the sticky smoke bellowing from the different ceremonial offerings. In addition to this, outside the precincts marked by the kind of religiosity of which the most conservative priests approved, we broke into bedlam. We the children were merry. The elders also seemed to enjoy the occasion because of the fact that the father made elaborate arrangements for the eldest son and a good number of people had been invited. But due to my proximity to the mother I had a feeling that something was wrong.
At the entrance of the huge canopy that had been erected, there were an equal number of beggars and dogs. It was decided that though the beggars could not be invited for fear of annoying many of the guests known for their aversion for such slovenly and destitute people, my father arranged to have food sent to them. A little later my mother came and stood there, gazing at the way the beggars were being piled with the fare. She could have derived satisfaction from the sight as she had been in the habit of feeding such people whenever they came to the house and they did come in a good number because of her generosity but suddenly she broke into sobs and ran inside the house. I saw her as I had been doing the good job of watching those people eating with ravenous appetite. I followed the mother into the house and saw her crying silently. Later I learnt that the sight of the young hunchbacked girl, Manthara, relishing her food with the beggars by the side of a pack of dogs shattered her heart. I stood by the mother holding her hand, allowing myself to be soaked in the palpability of her compassion. The next day when I was about to throw a stone at a hapless crow sitting on the branch of one of the trees in the garden, I dropped it.
I often loved to tease the mother about her love for god and ended up putting her favourite portrait of Lord Krishna, adorning the wall of the sitting room, at an uneven angle. Though I expected her to be miffed, she told me in a soothing voice that my attempt to play with her love showed a kind of my love for it and it would prove positive one day.  I could not understand many of the things she spoke about but the serenity of her presence seemed to absorb me in the entity of the essential mother that she had been. Then out of the blue she told me that that the portrait sitting askew on the wall marred the principle of straightness and should not be done in the least. The very pronunciation of the word had an immediate effect on me. A couple of days later I politely refused the help of a friend who wanted me to copy from him during a mathematics test at the school, even though I had been infinitely weak in the subject.
Later during the college days I owed my allegiance to a party and the candidate fielded in the municipal elections in our ward happened to be the adversary of the sitting councilor, the youngest uncle of my mother. She knew about the way I had been opposed to her uncle, gearing up to get him defeated with the support of the local boys who complained of many an evil. Time and again I talked about political issues, castigating the activities of the sitting councilor but my mother did not express her opinions. On the day of the polls, when the emerging trends suggested that the mother’s uncle was going to be trounced and she was on her way to the polling booth to cast her vote for the sitting councilor, she told me in her characteristic manner that one should not ever switch one’s loyalties and should adhere to one’s principles. Then she looked up at the clear sky and crooned, ‘The image of the Lord has acquired the expanse of the sky irrespective of walls and angles.’ At the end of the day she told me again that she had not voted for her uncle as he had proved to be wholly corrupt. Though she seemed to be an enigma, I could luxuriate in the essential spirit of her motherly entity.

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