There was this splendid conversation between my mom and my close friend, few months back. And, I was a silent listener of this whole conversation. Today, again we had a bit of the same conversation continued, but this time between my mom and aunt. Here it is, my mom’s musings:
K: Aunt, how do you allow her to travel so much? Also, how do you allow her to stay out? She gets away with everything just by being sweet.
My Mom: Well, if you had been my son, and if you wanted to travel, I’d have permitted you, wouldn’t I?
K: But she is a girl.
My Mom: So?
K: Traveling alone, traveling in nights, backpacking is not something that is easy as it looks.
My Mom: For you?
K: For her.
My Mom: Why?
K: Girls can’t do it.
My Mom: Well, it’s very nice to hear you calling my daughter a girl because all along you called her a tomboy.
K (turns to me and asks): What if it’s time of your month or something?
My Mom: Unless she has mehandi or nailpolish on her hands or nails, I guess she can do anything and everything.
I giggle and enjoy their argument. Trust me, my mom argues even more intense than me.
K understood that there is no way that he is gonna win the argument, so he said: So you are happy about her travel?
My Mom: More than happy.
When I was young, younger than what she is now, I wanted to travel around the world. I want to plunge in to the Tungabhadra river, gaze at the stars while camping in a forest, watch the way The Nile flows, explore the caves of Ellora, and what not.
K: What happened?
My Mom: I got married, and life changed. Life was good, but not satisfactory. I went on numerous international tours with him, but all were tours not travel. I gained knowledge and experience, but there were restrictions. I was a tourist, not a traveler.
K: Wooah, she got the genes from you.
My Mom: Maybe, so when she said that she wanted to travel, I understood exactly how she would feel if she is deprived of following her passion.
K: You are the best mom, she is lucky to have you.
My Mom: It’s mutual… I am lucky enough to have daughters who fulfill my shattered dreams, and broken passion. I live the life I desired through them, it’s a selfish thing too.
We hug.. and it’s a Kodak moment 😛 Which was not captured though!
Months later, today when we (mom, aunt, and me) were discussing about my next trip, my aunt asked: How can you be so strong, V?
My mom: About?
Aunt: She is going on a tour, and you are cool about it.
*To note: the conversation was in the other room, I didn’t eavesdrop (swear!), but it was audible*
My mom: Yes. If not now, then when?
Aunt: Aren’t you afraid? Something might happen? World is so cruel.
My mom: To be honest, every time she travels or even goes to work, my heart skips a beat. Every time my phone rings way past late evening hours, my breath stops for a moment. When I see those pictures of hers on top of cliffs, in middle of a beach, and in haunted buildings, there is a slight pain in my tummy, umbilical cord connection, you see. But then I never let my fear take over her happiness.
Aunt: I am not convinced. You should tell her to stop doing these.
My mom: I can’t tell her to stop smiling. Despite being on top of a cliff, in a damaged bus, in an unknown city, she smiles, she learns, she lives. It’s tough for a mom to choose between her daughter’s safety and happiness. I cannot pick one, and I am still trying to keep both at a balance. I will strive to do so forever.
Aunt: You can’t protect her by sitting here, while she is away on tour.
My Mom: You know there is one book called Harry Potter. In that the mother’s shield protects her son even after her death. It is just a work of fiction, but the fact of mother’s love keeps her child safe is not a myth. More than the nazar patti (sacred ropes to keep a person safe from evil eyes) on her hands and legs, I have my love sealed all over her. That’s my only hope to keep her safe.
Aunt: You talk more like Sri.
Later, I hugged her and told, “You are the best mom ever. How will I repay you?” She smiled and said, “the day you hear the same from your child, if you choose to have one, you have repaid me.” I smiled at her sensible comment, she didn’t say that I should marry and have a child, yet again, she made me choose my choice, my life.