The daughter in her forties and her 70-year old mother worked in the house as domestic help – the daughter cooked while the mother washed and swept the front-yard. At work, they rarely talked to each other. From their demeanor, one would never suspect they were mother and daughter living under one roof.
The daughter had grown up in her uncle’s house in Chennai while the mother had brought up her sister in the village.
It’s a sad story how her father abandoned her mother with two children while they were going some place by bus. Yes, he just disappeared at a bus stop leaving the illiterate woman in the middle of nowhere without a penny in her purse. Somehow she struggled to reach a relative’s house and find her way back with the children in tow. The man was rumored to have moved in with another woman in the same neighborhood. With no further contact all his life, the mother went for his last rites on his demise!
As for her, she found her man cheating on her and pestering her for favors at other times. Disgusted she walked out of her marriage with her child, never to look back again.
In certain sections of the society it is not uncommon to find these stories oft-repeated where the man goes off with impunity to live with another woman. No questions asked. And the woman struggles with her life working as a domestic help or as a small-time vendor selling flowers, vegetables, etc.
For some years now the mother is living with her daughter in Chennai, visiting off and on her other daughter happily married and living in Pondicherry – the one silver-lining in the story.
How are the two getting on? The daughter like a stern-faced head-mistress and the mother like a beyond-caring errant child. According to the mother, they have their spats, mostly scripted and acted out by the daughter. She could not put her finger on what upset the daughter. She just shrugged her shoulders: ’What to do? She’s like that… I let it pass.’
After that long prelude, now to the plot, thin but deep:
One day the daughter looked a little distracted. Reason: The mother had decided to go to Pondicherry for a month to be with her other daughter.
While talking about it, she said: ‘I can’t stay without Thaayi (her mother).’ Came as a surprise. But she repeated herself twice.
When this was carried later to Thaayi while she was sweeping the dead neem leaves off the yard, her response:
‘Don’t kid with me.’
‘No. I’m not.’
She went back to her job. After a few minutes, she came back:
‘She said that? Did she say it in jest or…’
‘No, she was right earnest saying she can’t live without you in the house.’
She too appeared surprised. Surely gladdened her heart though she didn’t exactly go into a dance. May be it’ll get at least her thru the next few spats to come?
Besides the obvious moral of the story: ‘When you care about someone, say it loud and often to the person.’…there’s more to the story (with apologies to Milton John), I thought:
‘They also serve…
who carry a good word spoken,
a warm feeling expressed…
to its rightful addressee,
who wasn’t around then.’
A great opportunity, often overlooked, to bring people closer happily at no cost and with little effort!
Source: Mother and Daughter – hand-painted by ANJU AGRAWAL listed at fizdi.com/