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Dear Mother, I Love You But I Would Never Want to be You

Harnidh Kaur |

Updated: May 14, 2017, 11:47 AM IST
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Dear Mother, I Love You But I Would Never Want to be You
Part-time poet and full-time student of public policy, Kaur’s first book, ‘The Inability of Words’, emerged as Amazon Poetry Bestseller on the day of its launch. Views are personal.

Don't get me wrong, I love my mother. I love her more than stars. It’s a true and honest love, on most days. A love born out of a lot of trials and negotiations, a love that has been sculpted into the shape it is in with a lot of fire from both sides. I am sure because no two people would stand with each other after everything we have been through if they didn’t love each other.

I was her firstborn, her first canvas to paint on, and she had a definite palette in her mind for when she decided to colour me in. What she didn’t realise was that I came with my own colours. Mine were darker, messier, and left stains everywhere. She didn’t know how to control the way mine dragged themselves outside the careful drawn lines she had sketched out for me, so she decided to dilute my colours, thinking they would resemble her calmer pastels. Here’s the thing with colours, though. For all that is said about colours and their science, there is a certain unpredictable alchemy that they carry within them. My mother discounted that fact, and we were left sodden in murky water with indeterminate mousey colour that didn’t suit either of us. It’s taken years just to wash it off.

We have grown over time, though. Slowly, steadily, and with a lot of pit stops. She is learning how to differentiate between the two distinct people we are.

If we were plants, she would be an evergreen, maybe a blue spruce. She would stand strong and steady, taking up just the right amount of space, providing shelter and the gentle smell of mountains and pine. I would be some sort of mint, I suppose, planted in a beautiful, safe garden, but taking over all the space available, and demanding more. She tried her best to teach me her best attributes – patience, kindness and serenity. But they were never mine to have or espouse.

The first memories of my mother I have are those of calmness, and of quietude and composure.

These memories have been tested again and again, with cracks in the image of what I imaged my mother to becoming prominent over the years. My mother isn’t the calm, detached voice of reason I have always imagined her to be. As time passed, my mother became more human, more flawed, more difficult to admire – but much easier to empathise with.

It’s an uncomfortable realisation, that your mother was a woman before you came along and made her fit into the brackets of motherhood. It is difficult to wrap your head around the fact that the woman she was doesn’t cease to exist. She just takes a back seat, and often one that she finds herself trapped in over time.

Mom managed to subdue that woman so effectively that her children never interacted with her. She emerged rarely but was quickly hushed down. I do not want that for myself. My mother’s lessons of perseverance and stoicism are lessons to me, but those that tell me of what I should not do. When I see the person my mother is, I see an ideal that will never be mine, and that shouldn’t be mine. I am not half as good a person as my mother is, and for both of us to clamour towards something that we would never get is just setting up a trap of hurt, pain, and dissonance.

We are getting better at this, though. We are learning how to respect each other as individuals with choices, decisions, and the ability to make them independently. I am racing towards the age where I have been forced to acknowledge that maybe I don’t know everything and that there are things that my mother is right about.

As I grow into the woman I am becoming, I think I am slowly pouring myself into a mould we have created, and one that we are going to eventually be proud of.

The most difficult thing to say to your own mother is ‘sorry’. It is difficult, because you know you have spent so long rebelling against what she thinks you should do, that apologising almost feels anticlimactic for both the parties involved. I still find ‘sorry’ and ‘forgive me’ stuck in my throat on some days now, relics of incidents long passed and long forgotten. It is still humbling to realise how many apologies I owe my mother for the sheer number of times I have chosen to fight battles that barely existed.

So on this Mother’s Day, I think I am going to say thank you to my mother.

Thank you for all the apologies I never spelt out, but you always heard mamma. I love you.

(Part-time poet and full-time student of public policy, Kaur’s first book, ‘The Inability of Words’, emerged as Amazon Poetry Bestseller on the day of its launch. Views are personal)

First Published: May 14, 2017, 11:47 AM IST
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