The mother we end up being

Sangeeta Madaan

DAUGHTERS never want to be like their mother. A mother’s dome can never be theirs. They want a dreamy one, not chased by their mother.

The Binding Vine by Shashi Deshpande is a true and sensible study of the mother-daughter relationship. The world of fiction came alive for me. The protagonist tells her mother that she can never imagine herself in her mother’s world, and wants her own. Soon I realised this is what happened between me and my mother.

My mom told me to be bold, fearless, and do what I desired, when I was a child. Later, the story began: ‘Do as I said’, ‘Do as I think’, ‘This is not good for you, we are elders’, ‘You are a child, you don’t know this world’. But I never paid attention. My mother seems like Hitler, and a love-hate relationship developed. My mother — so vulnerable, scared, weak, melodramatic, insecure! I just wanted to be a superwoman, a supermom; giving the desired world to my children, especially daughter.

But what is a mother I came to understand after being one to my daughter. When I hear my four-year-old say: ‘Mama, aap to budhhu ho’, ‘Aapko kuch nahi pata’, ‘Sara din bolte rahte ho’, I am scared. What is happening to this young generation? I was also a ‘protestant’ at my home, but not at such a tender age. I was a feminist, a sharp-edge maturing with advancing age, but my daughter is a young feminist, who defies all limitations fostered by this patriarchy. For this attitude, I should be happy. But I am afraid. Am I becoming like my mother? My daughter is treating me the same way I did my mother. My mother was orthodox, but how can I be? I had a modern perspective to life and still that attitude is alive. Why then?

I guess it is the way of the world. It is the way of being a mother. Neither me nor my mom was wrong. Such a strange relation! Sometimes, makes us laugh, sometimes forces us to cry.

Today I am scared — when my daughter goes to play in the neighbourhood; my heart beats fast when she goes to school in a van; a sense of fear, of unknown danger, engulfs me when I see strangers around her; I am suspicious of my relatives. So protective, so vulnerable, so feeble, so scared — an emotional fool I am becoming. I can’t tell anybody about my fear. Such limited powers of mine! I want to give my daughter wings to fly, but at the same time, I limit her speed. A helpless mother.

I wish for my daughter ‘her’ world, as I got. I just hope, with the passing of time, my daughter will understand me, my situation; as I did. Now I salute my mother, who like a shield saved me from hardship and the abuses of life. And continues doing it in her old age. Love you, mom. I hope my daughter will also understand me at some point in her life. And it may happen; she too will have to be like me.

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