As a woman of the house, it is often taken for granted that you’d sacrifice for others and let them take first priority every time. I did grow up with such a mother in my early years. After some time, she might have realised how stupid that was and chose to live for herself as much as us.
Mum and I have been very close since I was a child. Not a surprise really, because dad was the more possessive and the silently brooding one, who would burst out once a while, and otherwise assume you read his mind all the time. So yes, mum was closer because she didn’t assume we knew what she thought. In fact, she was pretty overt about what she felt, thought and expected. She made sure we knew she was as important as Dad. She would never take a smaller piece of food/delicacy, just because she put a big one on ours (my brother’s, dad’s or mine). She’d rather cook more. Also, she made it clear to us kids very early that just because there was a quarrel between mum and dad, it didn’t mean we could see her in any low light. Her authority remained untouched no matter what circumstance. She didn’t treat dad like a god nor did she expect us to treat anyone like that. She didn’t appease someone just because she was expected to. If she didn’t like someone/something, she made it clear. She did all her duties as a daughter or sister-in-law but she didn’t bow down to ill-treatment silently. She’d fight back even if that led to a commotion.
Honestly, while I appreciated her openness, I found it overwhelming too. But as I grew up into a woman myself, I realised that if she didn’t do it, we’d always expect her to give up or give in. I realised the importance of a woman making her intentions clear and not just having a mind of her own. I figured that if you don’t stand up for yourself, nobody else will. She also taught me that if I allowed people to walk over me, they will go on and trample. She also had a strange conviction in me and my brother, something we didn’t have ourselves; probably, because she had undying conviction in herself. She always moulded herself to understand our side of the story before she brought on hers. Yes, we fight and damn hard. But she always pauses to listen; and if she doesn’t disagree, she accepts.
She has never waited for us to make her life meaningful. We do make her world go round, but she never compromises on her own time or space because of us. She even asked me if I didn’t want to marry, so she could brace it and move on. I suppose she would have even made herself accept it if I was gay. She’d have taken time, but she’d have accepted it. Because, even before people could publicly speak about it in our social circle, she was telling us about homosexuality and meeting my gay friends amicably.
As far as my memory goes, she always had short, cropped hair and a plump physique. She suited her wardrobe and hairstyle as per her convenience, no matter how ready the society was for such an upgrade. She switched to salwar kameez and pants when saris became cumbersome for her. She always carried her weight off well – although taming my carbs because of her hereditary gene – and told off people who fat-shamed her. She brisk-walked 45-60 mins a day and lost considerable weight in her late 50s before hypertension and diabetes could find a home. She has always tried setting an example for us rather than giving advice. She has mild arthritis now but doesn’t stop her evening walks, lest that become an excuse for a passive old age.
When women her age are either worrying about political showdowns, girls getting drunk, live-in relationships or why Simar turned into a fly, she reads, listens to music religiously and keeps a tab on every new model/actor/beauty pageant winner. She lately watched Zero Dark Thirty and recommended me to watch it!