This visit home I understood something a little better.
How she coped with everything putting her best efforts into it, because she tried to give Dad everything like he wants it, she tried to keep things peaceful for us, and she insisted on surviving.
I think her childhood script is: Make the best of it girl, Survive.
Strange that her daughter should have come so close to Giving Up.
She doesn’t cry, she doesn’t protest or complain…she almost never has throughout her life. I wish she would break a little sometimes, we’d hold you, Mama. We’d hold you.
She almost never smiles for photographs anymore…. I took some recently, almost always with a new grandkid in her lap. I ask her to smile. A very feeble movement of the lips that stops too soon. She never looks like that in real life.
Or at least I don’t see that expression.
Dad was showing me some figures on an excel sheet, stating some financial facts, asking me some questions. Savings. What I have, what I don’t.
Tears welled up and started rolling down my eyes. Quietly.
Papa continued to say and show what he had to.
Mum tried to stop the proceedings. What happened? What happened to you? Why are you crying? She expressed as much agitation as sweetly and safely as she could.
“Nothing, Mama, nothing.”
Later she followed me into another room. Explaining.
“Listen, its just the way he talks. You know how loving he really is. What can I do, I’ve coped with it all my life.
You tell me if there is another way.”
“He gives me everything he earns. Then he speaks harshly about what I do with it. But he’ll still hand over everything.
And this big Diwali gift that we’re giving to all three of you this year. Its his own idea. He got it from the bank himself.
Then he’ll say I don’t know what you do with all my money.”
“If I started taking all this to heart, Neeru, where would we all be.”