• Vijeta Gawdi

My Mom, my Wonder Woman


A very happy Mother's Day mommies. To all the ladies, who wear with pride, the beautiful scars of motherhood. Choosing to become a mother is no ordinary feat because motherhood leaves you vulnerable and anxious forever. It is literally having to live with your heart outside your body. As a mother, my mind is always in an overdrive-health, education, safety, value systems there are so many bases to cover.

The girls are busy making some Mother's Day cards for me today. As the little elves burn the midnight oil, working at decorating the room, that I have been banished from entering until tomorrow morning:) I can't help but reminisce about my years as a child, growing up under the safety net of my mother. There are so many bittersweet memories from the 80s and 90s that I carry in my heart.

My earliest memory of my mother is of the day we moved into our new home in CBD, it's more like a flash than a memory. We are performing pooja in the new house and mom has made kheer for prasad. I was 3 years old then and the year 1985. I am 37 years old today and a mother to three children. There is so much that mom and I have shared. The so many caps she has donned for me- my Annapoorna, my shield, my teacher, my last minute project maker, my nemesis at times, my agony aunt, my doctor, the list is endless. All of this wisdom and knowledge, I have sadly acquired only after becoming a mother myself.

Long years ago we made a tryst with destiny, and now the time comes when we shall redeem our pledge, not wholly or in full measure, but very substantially. At the stroke of the midnight hour, when the world sleeps, India will awake to life and freedom. A moment comes, which comes but rarely in history when we step out from the old to new when an age ends, and when the soul of a nation, long suppressed, finds utterance…

This is exactly how I felt growing up under Mommy Raj. I wanted to awaken to life and freedom. To have the joy of living life my way-uninhibited and unanswerable. I didn't want to suppress my wishes and wanted the power to do as I pleased. I would often find myself wondering at how much power my mom held in her hands. The power to decide TV time, playtime, study time and everything in between. How I yearned for that position of power.

The year was 1982, the Mother's Crown Rule was establishing its reins over my life. A rule that was autocratic, subservient and dictatorial. A rule that would last for the longest 25 years of my life. The dictator, my mother, who would unabashedly unleash her tyranny over me. Yes while growing up, there was a phase when my mom was my nemesis. I would consider myself the poor victim of her wrath. Now more often than not, I would be guilty of some wrongdoing. However, at the age of 8, I rarely saw any fault in doing the things I did.

Let me explain. So once mom was away for some bank work, I was all alone at home and had strict orders to not open the doors for anyone. So I sit watching TV and just for kicks, decide to operate the gas to make myself a cup of tea. At this point, I'd like to state that I have never made tea before. So I fill the small utensil up with water and leave it on the stove to boil. I go back to the TV and simply forget about it all. Twenty-five minutes later, the utensil is charred blue-black. My heart is in my mouth. I can visualise all that is to happen in the next hour. I quickly plan my escape. The soot is wiped down, the cloth and the utensil is hidden away. Mom arrives and goes about the house doing her work. I quickly excuse myself out of the house, it's 6 pm so playtime for me. I am hiding the utensil and the cloth behind my back, mom is busy in the other room. She is quick to remind me to be back before 8 pm. I don't bother bargaining for extra time because today, it is really not worth it. I rush down the stairs before some aunty catches me in the act. Yes, I am smart enough to cover all bases. Once out of the building, I go straight to a manhole across the gate and throw the proof of my crime in the dirty water. As I see the utensil and the cloth floating away, a sense of relief washes over me. Phew!saved by the bull. It is only later, much later, that I will have to tell her about this little escapade of mine. Did I? Of course, barely a couple of months later, I came clean:)

Another incident, that I remember very clearly and the one that still makes me laugh, every time I think about it goes like this. So this was the 80s and the early 90s. Saturday evenings were reserved for the most-awaited Hindi movie telecast. I was a movie buff. I would actually memorise the dialogues and often be embarrassed because papa would catch me acting the scenes out, in front of the mirror. One such dialogue had caught my fancy in those days "Yeh tere baap ka hai kya?" To be honest I never really understood the context in which this dialogue was spoken. To my 10 year old brain, simply translated, it meant literally "Does this belong to your father?" So it's evening time and I am tearing the pages of an old but neatly kept diary. Deshpande aunty our neighbour has come to ask mom for something and so thankfully the main door is ajar. Why thankfully, wait for the climax. Mom is furious because it is her recipe book that I am so whimsically shredding to pieces. She tells me and I remember it so clearly "What are you doing? Don't you know that Papa got that for me and I use it to write my recipes?" At this point, I am assuming mom is being so touchy and overreacting. I have a look of defiance on my face and very coolly answer back, "Iska matlab yeh aapke baap ka nahi hai!" The next thing I remember, a shoe flying across the hall, me running out of the main door and stopping halfway to look back and plead my innocence, with my mom calling me to come back into the house with a "Tu aa aaj!":)

Those were the days of me feeling stifled under mom's rule. I would wish to grow up sooner, so I could escape the monstrosity of her disciplining ways. I wanted to overthrow her rule and establish my own. For every time she came at me with a Danda, yes I have been that bratty, I would if I could voice my disdain with a Dandi March of my own. As I said, those were the 80s, the last species of children who were really scared more out of respect of course, of their parents. So I, like all of my cohorts, would take the beating and the scolding with my head bowed down, mentally counting to 100, hoping the brawl would get over by then:)

Life does come a full circle. Today, I have taken my mother's place, in the lives of my children. Am I any more patient or understanding with them than my mother was with me? Nah! I now realise mom had a much higher tolerance for rubbish. She has set the bar high, very high for me in all the aspects of motherhood. Years later, I am aware of the struggles she put herself through, to make me who I am. The hurdles she overcame financial, physical and mental to give us the best in life and all of it with a smile on her face. I would give anything to become that little girl again today, to be under the shelter of mom's strict but loving ways. This is my Wonder Woman who I call Mumma. I love you Mom😘

Forever yours


Vijeta Gawdi.

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