April 17, 2009

Mother India

This is an extremely confused post. I wrote this after a fight with someone over the person’s point of view that mothers were the main reason behind the stunted development of some men. So this is not exactly a well thought out post but it’s unabashedly supporting mothers and that’s why it’s important for me.

Long ago, the superstar of yesteryears Nargis starred in a movie that gave her unparalleled critical acclaim and ensured that every woman centric movie in India would be compared to Mother India. The climax of the movie was when she shot her own son, to uphold truth, honesty and virtue.

Mother India was a movie. But everyday in my life as I meet consumers I look at these hundreds of women, each one sacrificing immensely for the sake of their children and their families. This post is about all of them. This post is about Mother India.

I have always thought that Bengali Mothers are extremely protective about their children and thus a large percentage of Bengali men I know seem to be at a loss when they have to leave their safe havens for the first time. As they say great men think alike, someone called Tagore had also said to the Bengali Mother, “you have kept your sons as Bengalis, not made them men.” When I went to college, I realized that it was true for Indian men in general. The women on the other hand, for some reason, maybe neglect, were a lot more self sufficient.

As a result most of my women friends think that Indian men have been spoiled beyond repair and the biggest culprits are their moms. And therefore, they do not take kindly to the mothers of their boyfriends or even husbands. Momma’s boy seems to be a scathing remark every woman unleashes on her man when the things are not going right. And the men are steeped in the stereotypical thought that their mother-in-laws should not be asked to move in with them even if their wives are the only progeny the in-laws have.

I do not want to go into the details of how a boy child is preferred over a girl child in many parts of our country. That’s a tragedy and often results in heinous crimes. Maybe in another post I will speak about the frustration I feel over it. Maybe I will ask you to go and watch Matrubhoomi as I had asked you long back in this blog. But today somehow I want to speak about Mothers.

What most independent women fail to realize is the level of sacrifice a generation of mothers have made for their children. These are the children that have grown up in the late eighties and early nineties to push India into the greater system of World Economy. They have spent sleepless nights so that their sons and daughters can study. They have protected them from every harm’s way with their life. If the family can afford only 2 pieces of mutton, it has always gone to the children.

I remember when I was studying there were my mothers of my friends who would spend the entire day outside school just to ensure they were there for their sons during the tiffin breaks and as soon as the last bell rings. Pounding rain or scorching heat, they would be there, the image of sacrifice with a smile on her face, waiting patiently for her son who would dump his heavy bag on her and just walk off. And this was a common scene across all schools in Calcutta. Maybe it’s a Bengali phenomenon. Maybe, Bengali mothers are over protective about their sons and daughters.

And we forget all this so easily. We in fact scorn women who do this for their children. Today we want a life away from our parents as we grow up. I have spoken to close to a thousand women as a part of my work. While the wish for their son remains the same, “that he should get a good job and be well settled in life” the wishes for their daughters have dramatically changed. Today the mothers are sure, “my daughter will be independent and she will not have the life I have had.” It’s unfortunate how the daughters often forget this as they grow up. Well, I guess it’s biological and Freudian.

I always have believed there are many Indias within our country. But the Many Indias have many dads. However, the Many Indias have just one Mother – Mother India.

What exactly was the point of this post? Who knows! Maybe Mom does.


Anonymous said...

Good one :)I liked it the most..

Pooja said...

A confused post is what you call it, pretty passionate is what I would call it. And why not, I too feel that all we say for Mothers cannot be enough! You seem to have come across a lot of women who have that opinion and seem to have forgotten what Mothers did-I know very few people like that; most people I know, including me feel that the woman behind every successful man is firstly their mother. I dont see how anyone can fail to see not just the sacrifices they have done,but also the very fact that every Indian man that they look up to are also what they are thanks to what their Mothers made them! Am disappointed to hear there are many people out there who feel that way.
On a different note, ya, staying outside school all day from morning to evening is something I have heard happening only in Calcutta; at least it did not happen in Kerala for sure. Kudos to those mothers who managed that as well, but mothers all over are just as great! :)


Madhurjya (Banjo) said...

@ Anon - Thanks for your messages in so many of my posts. Would love to know who you might be.

@ Pooja - Thank your lucky stars that you know such people :)Hope things are going great at your end.

Anonymous said...

A big thanks from Indian moms for your post... You have validated them. [:)]
But, you must try to see your friends' point as well... for there is a world of truth in it. The point is women have a strong, emotional need to feel "needed" by her man. When her husband "needs" her MIL (or anyone/anything else for that matter) more than he "needs" her, a woman satisfies HER emotional needs by making her son as dependent on her as possible. A vicious cycle: but no one is to be blamed.
A truly great mother, in my opinion, is one who, with her love and wisdom, is aware of her own selfish need, overcomes it, strives towards the growth of her sons into intellectually and emotionally independent persons and thus, breaks the cycle.
And I am fortunate to know of mothers like that!!!