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A mother is an inspiration by herself, given the fact that the role requires her to nurture a human being ( or more than one) physically, emotionally and as a person. What starts with carrying the child within herself progresses to giving birth through the painful labour an then going through sleepless nights, physical fatigue, emotional strain and the ever hanging question of did I do the right thing for my child - is a never ending process. Most of the women go through it in an 'auto' mode. To be honest, before I became a mother, I had never given it a thought how I would want to be a good mother or what I will do or wouldn't do; till one day which was a watershed moment.
There is an aunt I went to stay with for about two months after I got married. I had an official project to be completed in Lucknow and due to proximity of my office to her house, she insisted I stay with her ( we used to work till very late and everyone in the family was keen that I avoid late night travels for safety reasons). I had been visiting them as a child during my vacations and was quite close to them, so I agreed. Her son and daughter-in-law also used to stay in the same house with their one year old son. It was one average Indian family who welcomed a relative as a house guest.
My aunt was a nice mother-in-law who was still somewhere feeling insecure about a new girl in her son's life ( he had got married 2 years back). The daughter-in-law was also nice and dealt with it in her own manner. Nothing ever crossed a line and both the mother-in-law and the daughter-in-law did enough nice things for each other to ignore the undercurrents. I became a sound box for both occasionally. I always felt that my aunt gave more importance to her son than his wife in trivial things like keeping aside a bowl of kheer for him if it was less and offering only a spoonful to his wife ( though she herself too would take a spoonful).
About fifteen days after I had been staying at their place, one night as I had said good night and had gone to sleep, I heard some commotion and walked to the door of my room. Straining my ears I heard my cousin screaming. I peeped out and could see he was drunk and was screaming and yelling. As I debated with myself if I should intervene, I saw him hit his wife. The next thing I saw was my aunt standing in front of her and asking him to get out of the house. He was stunned. It was evident that he could not believe what she said. After all, she had been a doting mother (more than that as I had always heard that her children meant the world to her and she had never screamed at them even when they were young). She had been like a friend to her kids ( no mean feat for mothers of that generation).
Next, she caught him by the hand and showed him the door and closed it. She then walked up to the daughter-in-law and said sorry to her saying "I must have failed in my bringing up. This is your house since the day you were married to him. Please go to sleep. If you want, I can come and sleep in your room."
I could not sleep after that and thought he would come back in the morning. He dared not. My sister-in- law continued to stay in the house. She shared with me that her husband had called and apologized and my aunt asked her to decide if she wanted to stay with him or she could continue to stay with her. However, my aunt sent a message that he was not to enter her house after what he had done. After a few days, his wife too decided to join him.
Till the time I was there, I saw my aunt picking up the phone when her son called, disconnecting it without uttering a word and then crying for a long time. I finished my project and came back. Life moved on and when I met my aunt's daughter-in-law after a few years, in a wedding, I learnt that her husband had apologized and on her recommendation my aunt had agreed to let him in her house again after almost two years of that incident.
I became a mother almost three years after that incident and remembered the lesson I learnt from my aunt. A good mother teaches by example, at all ages - even if it means going through the pain of staying away from her child. Standing up for what is right is the most valuable lesson mothers can teach their kids.
Being a mother does not make a woman vulnerable or emotionally weak - it helps draw the inner strength to do the right thing. To me this was the most inspiring mother!