The Love of Mothers

Published on May 8, 2009

By Thangkhochon Haokip

In the epic Mahabharata, Yudhisthira saved himself and the lives of his brothers by telling a perfect answer. As the story goes, the Pandavas were in exile after losing their kingdom in the game of dice. One day, the five brothers were lost in the jungle as they hunt for food. Exhausted, they settled down nearby a spring to quench their thirst.  As they were about to drink the water, a voice called from somewhere.

“What is the greatest form of love in the world?’’ was the question each of them has to answer before drinking the water. From the youngest to the second eldest, Bhima, none could give the right answer, and they died. Finally, it was the turn of Yudhisthira, the eldest. He thought for a while and answered, “Mother’s love to her children.” Satisfied with the answer, the supernatural being harmed him not, rather brought back to life the three dead brothers.

There is another story. Joe worked in office to earn bread and butter for the family. Maria, his wife, is a home-maker. Joe would go to office daily, work the whole day and returned home in the evening. He felt tired and wary. Few years of continuous routine task bored him and found something to complain for. His wife, on the other hand, was confined to household chores. Joe grew impatient as he compared his work with that of his wife’s.

One evening, he complained to God and requested Him to interchange him and his wife. His wish was fulfilled. Early in the morning, Joe (now she) woke up, prepared tea for breakfast, woke up children and cleaned them up. She taught them their lesson as she cooked food, simultaneously. Till this time the husband lied comfortably in the bed. After meal, she washed the dishes, bathed the children, prepared tiffin and dropped them to school. She rushed back home, laundered her husband’s clothing and polished shoes.

She washed all the dirty clothes in the family. She mopped the floors after sweeping every nook and corner of the house. She then fetched water and watered the flowers in the garden and in flower pots. By the time she could barely finished the household chores, it was already evening. She had to go to pick up her children from school. The kids complained of hunger and thirst. She had to feed them again.

It was already dusk and she had to prepare for dinner. Just then, her husband arrived from office tired and demanded some nursing. She bathed the kids, helped them revised their lesson. She arranged dinner and did the dishes as done in the brunch. By the time the domestic chores of the day were partially over, it was already time for bed.

Desperate and exhausted, she cried sobbing. She complained back to God to kindly reverse the wish. She begged never to complain against his wife but promised to show more love and care than he did before. The prayer was granted and Joe no longer held the same attitude towards Maria. This is only one bit of a story. It is only a one day affair of being a mother. Almost all the mothers in the world are Marias .

The saying – all mothers are working mothers -say it all. The hardships they face for the family and the physical and mental burden they carry are hardly noticed. In a patriarchal set up, the household chores are not even considered a work. Post industrial era, the conditions of mothers are even worse. Various professions are thrown open to every one. There is high rate of working mothers in various occupations.

Imagine the life history of a mother.  Right from marriage till death, a mother is hardly relaxed. A mother’s suffering is best understood by tracing the life history of a child. This hazardous journey of a mother begins right from her conception till the child is born and grows up to marry. The various pains both internal and external a mother undergoes are understood only by mothers themselves.

As the child is born and grown up, the burden of mother gets even worse. To mould an innocent child into a man is not an easy task. As a child he is innocent and the mother has to care for him every now and then. A mother is hardly praised if the child does something good. But the blame is put on the mother if the act is foul.

As he grows up, contradictions arise. Not all that he likes is liked by the parents. Every one is satisfied most if they choose the color of their underwear and partners by themselves. When the time comes for marriage, the choice of bride may be contradictory again. Even the collective choice of the family may not turn out as expected. Clash of interests may lead to broken families.

Just imagine if you had ever done anything good for your mother. Or take short time to reflect what your mother had done to you. How much can you recall? Remember, your mother is the happiest person when you excel and the saddest person if it is the opposite. A child can touch the heart of the mother best.

What is your mother to you? Or how often do you remember your mother? “I remember my mother’s prayer and they have always followed me’’ declared Abraham Lincoln boldly. “They have clung to me all my life”. Mark Twain once remarked, “My mother had a slender, small body, but a large heart – a heart so large that everybody’s joys found welcome in it, and hospitable accommodation.” Can your mouth utter these pearls of reverence?

Mothers’ Day is here. Keeping in mind the untold miseries your mother suffers for you, how would you celebrate the day so auspicious to them? Traditions of celebrations associated with the occasion ever since the first Mothers’ Day is observed at the request of Anna Jarvis in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania on May 10, 1908 may not be applicable to us all. As for instance, in the United States of America, it is traditional to bring flowers and take your mother to lunch or brunch.

As in other countries, if a family is not able to be with their mother, they will often send cards, flowers or gifts to mark. Or that of Australia in which the white chrysanthemum has taken the place of carnation, for being the most prolific flower in May. Church services make special mention of the devotion of mothers to the task of caring for and raising their children, reminding families to take special of their mothers.

It is not difficult to visit or call your mother and surprise her by telling you still remember and how she used to care for you. It is worth remembering to illustrate your point with reminiscences of your childhood. Send her a card or flowers with a poem specially written for her. Another suggestion is to take her out to dinner or cook for her. Take her out for a dance and tell her she is your first girlfriend and the first woman in your life. If your mother is no more, think of any one woman who has been a mother figure to you, and surprise her with a box of chocolates to express your love to her.

One of the best ways to celebrate Mothers’ Day is to give your mom the day off. Let her take it easy and relax while the rest of the family does the work. “A man’s work is from sun to sun, but a mother’s work is never done,” goes a popular saying. As mentioned earlier, no love in this world (Jesus’ loves to the people being the exception) is comparable to mother’s love to her child.

Remember, your mother is not going to live forever. Who can predict with certainty that his mother will see another Mother’s Day? Show your utmost love and reverence while she’s alive or at least, on this special day. The bottom-line, therefore, is – don’t do anything that would not make your mom proud.

The writer is a post-graduate student of Sociology at Jawaharlal Nehru University, India.