A Page From Our Memoir

mother

He walked up to the stage to receive his degree. His eyes searched for someone and I knew it searched for me. The vice chancellor conferred upon him the title of the ‘Best Student’ for the academic year 2010-11. He was happy, so was I. The crowd burst into applause as he received his degree. I felt pride fill in me. The noise in the auditorium could not drown the noise in my mind. It took me back to the night when my son realized the truth of his life. Six years back, my son lost control over his emotions for the first time in eighteen years of his life. That evening had something that my son and I wish to forget and some moments that we wished to cherish. It was doomsday for a relation which bore the brunt of its veracity.
The kind of turmoil that stirred his tender mind designed still echoed in my ears. It was doomsday for us. He was shattered into a million little pieces. It was a question of one’s reality. My son had to face it someday and I had decided that day for him. My recap session was interrupted with an announcement for lunch. My son made his way through the crowd. His eyes waited for validation. I kissed his forehead. His eyes were bright. He said “Thank you mom. I love you.” “I love you too,” said I.
Twenty two years back, I was brought into the room where he was kept. I think he recognized me. He gave a little coo on having seen me and I think he smiled a bit. I slipped my fingers into his palms which he caught. I felt the very same emotion that filled in me yesterday evening when I saved him from those stray dogs at the railway station. Why was it so? Why did I feel something for this child? It may be so because of the similarity we shared. It maybe because I was an orphan myself whose parents abandoned me at a temple in a village of Rajasthan. I saw myself in the child. I could connect with his helplessness. I knew the fate of the children at the orphanage. Not every child was as lucky as me to be able to study at a scholarship and escape from the poverty in which I would have had to live with. That very moment I decided to bring that child into my life. I decided to make him an integral part of my life. I was capable of providing him with a better life, thanks to the job I had. I worked for a newspaper which paid me fair enough to be able to raise a child. I was educated; I had a job and a heart to accept him as my son. The adoption proceedings took another three to four months but I visited my soon to be son every single day. I bought him new clothes and made sure that he received medical attention at the slightest uneasiness. There were a whole lot of complexities which I had to solve due to my unmarried status. The officials were not sure if I would take care of him the way I do in case if I decide to get married and have kids of my own. It took some time but I did manage to resolve it all. On 25th October, 1989, I brought him into my life permanently. The day I found him at the station was his birthday. He came into my life and was now my world. Everything of mine, revolved around him. He was like oxygen to me. I promised myself to give him the kind of childhood I was deprived of. I wanted to live my childhood again; the way it was supposed to be, the way it never happened to me.
My son replaced the void in my life. It was more like him adopting me, a mother for himself. We grew up together. I showered him with all the love and affection that I had in me. He did reciprocate to it. I made sure that he was sent to one of the most prestigious schools in Mumbai though I could ill afford it and caused a rigorous imbalance in my budget. I tried looking out for more options to be able to fund his activities without any help from anybody. He grew up to be a responsible boy. At the age of eleven he could handle all the household chores. I did not want him to do any such thing except for managing his studies and maintaining his cupboard. He was one of the brightest students his class and brought grades that I was proud of. Math was his forte and he could solve equations that even I could not solve. His love for language made him the editor of his school magazine. We spent an hour every evening, discussing various topics right from how our day proved to what would he like eat for dinner. I wanted to be a good mother and did all that was in my capacity to be one.
At the age of fifteen, he was a state level basketball player. He was the heartthrob of every girl in his school and I used to make fun of him. He could not sing at all. That was the only field my son could not thrive in. He knew he sounded weird but would often burst into singing my favorite songs in his voice to cheer me when I was down. He believed my story of how our house went on fire and claimed his father. All our belongings were in ashes and that he and I survived because of an appointment for which we had left minutes before the fire broke out and left our life in ashes. I was to guard his reality till the day he turned eighteen.
Nature had turned him into a handsome young man. At times, I wondered whom did he resemble, his biological mother or father. The debate took place in my head and I finally decided that he resembled me and only me. I used to ponder on how my life and his life would have been had I managed to climb onto that local that I had missed due to which I had to stay back at the station, just in time to save him.
Our life was a content one, comfortable and happy. My son took up science at the high school and aspired to study engineering. I gave him the liberty to choose a career path for himself. Even though he had a room of his own, there were times he sneaked onto my bed and sleep right next to me. He would cry in front of me like a child if something bothered him without feeling ashamed. We visited places together, the local café’, the restaurants, the market. We went on a holiday every year to a place of his choice. He discussed everything under the sun with me and was never hesitant to share his deepest secrets with me. He was an ideal son. He respected me, loved me and cared for me. His friends envied him because of the kind of relation he shared with his mother. They felt I was ‘cool’ and he was lucky to have a mother like me at which he smiled away, his heart thanking me. Trust was what I had in him. I never had to spy on him like other mothers. I trusted my son and he knew that and he always respected that trust. I was sure that he would confess any wrong he did before me. I do reprimand him when needed but never raised my hand at him. Actually, he never created any such instance.
On the eve of his eighteenth birthday, I mustered the courage to reveal his secret to him. I thought it was time he faced the harsh reality of his life. I sat him down and explained him everything. I did not know how exactly he would react to what I had to say but this conversation was inevitable. I narrated everything without missing out on any fact. I did not look at him once during the oration. After my speech, I looked up at him.
I was greeted with what was one of the many possibilities. He lost control over himself. He created havoc. Hell broke loose in our paradise. I saw another him in him. He wailed, banged the door at me and screamed as if he was turning mad. I was nervous but I maintained my cool and patiently waited for the storm to subside. It was not easy for him and I knew that. His faculty and senses were at a battle, a battle to survive, a battle to discern his existence. I controlled all the emotions that swelled in me to be able to handle my son. I had to support him. He was my son no matter what. I wanted him to break down and cry like he would never. I wanted him to emancipate it all.
I do not remember when exactly I fell asleep but in the morning I found myself on the couch and my son was at my feet, fast asleep. His face looked dull, his eyes puffed up. I ran my fingers through his hair. He woke up with a jolt. “How would you like some tea?” “Sure mom,” he said. I made him a cup of tea and we settled down at the dining table. He looked miserable and scared but finally gathered himself and said “Mom, I am sorry. I am really very sorry. I should not have done all of this. I…” “You need not justify your act. It is okay,” I smiled. I prayed in my mind for him to be able to accept me now. He stood up, walked up to me and hugged me for a good ten minutes. It felt like heaven. “I love you mom. Thank you for coming into my life. I love you.” Beyond all the conventional ties, the so called “blood” relations soared a relation that was so chaste and defied. He is my son and I am his mother.

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