Last night, I made a phone call to my mother. She said she was alone at home trying to swallow the hardened maize dough, Bokpee, for her dinner. Tears filled my eyes and I went numb to utter any word. I could not control my emotions and was trying to hold my breath when she asked me how I was doing.
In a broken sentence, jolted by reverberations, I told her, “I am doing well by the grace of you, Ama”.
Ever since, my father died and we left for school, she lived at home alone just like she was the only being born in the entire empty world. She gave birth to seven sons of whom four survived the test of time. She lost her other three sons to deadly diseases as there were no hospitals nearby the village. As a Gomchen family, my father and brothers did not work in the fields. She worked alone to keep us all fed throughout the year.
For so many years, she reached food and drinks to my father’s retreat place. After him, she reached the same to my elder brother’s retreat place. Having to work in the field and look after cows simultaneously, she would say, when she narrates me her life story that she felt like to manifest herself into several persons if at all she had powers. Or be torn into pieces that she could reach all places at one time.
Soon after the elder brother came out of his retreat, she again had to bore the burden of sending her youngest son to the retreat for about six years. In between two of her sons were sent to school (me and my second youngest brother).
With no sisters at home to help my mother, I had to help her cook food and prepare Ara to entertain guests as people use to do in the villages. I am a girl to my mother. As soon as the school is over in the evening, I would rush home and help her with all homely chores.
However in the morning, I would be engaged with my father who would give me teachings and ask me to perform morning rituals. He would not like to see me doing homely chores but sit and recite scriptures. But on the other hand, my mother was in dire need of an extra hand to complete her work. So the only solution for me was to give them each half of my time.
I remembered all those talking to her over the phone last night. I live in a noisy city but I hear those words succinctly in my ears. My heart is not leaned towards anything but to these beckoning and nostalgic sentiments.
As always, she told me words of courage and hard work. She asked me to study well. “I have wasted my life and could not do anything great”, she said. “You must do well.”
Immediately, I returned her words saying she has done great and achieved many. I uttered the following lines to my Mom:
"Ama, do not ever tell me that you haven’t achieved anything great. I am a proof of your greatness. I am here, at par with all those affluent sons and daughters and this happened not without you behind me. What I have achieved is what you have achieved too. I have been the recipient of the Best Student and this award goes not only to the son but also to the son’s mother. Without your advice and guidance, would I have ever become the best student and a child?
"My father died long ago, when I was in class IV. Troubles of being unable to continue my education began soon after. But you never failed, Ama. Even as a widow, you could push me up the rung when other parents failed. Out of 48 in class PP, I am the only boy who owns a graduate certificate today from our village. This is your strength, a strength that few mothers have. Why are you saying you are weak?
"I have seen the great world through my eyes. But my eyes are not mine: you have given me a share of yours. And you have seen the world through my eyes. You are educated as I am. Ama, you have travelled across the world with me because I carried you always in my heart. They asked me to pray to God and I prayed to you. This is because I believed that there is no greater God than you on earth. You have seen the great palaces, temples and monuments through me.
"Ama, never say that you are unhappy now. I have brought home thousands of reasons to be happy. It is difficult for me to hold tears when I reminisce of our sad past days of abject poverty and penury. Our past was troublesome where you had to dig for roots for dinner but there are some prospects I sense for our future. My only wish is that if I can make you young so that we can begin a new life of joy and die together old. I have no obligations but to take care of you as you have taken care of me when I was young and innocent. I look forward to return you milk for water and life for your love. You are my God, Ama!"
My mother who hardly weeps started sobbing.