Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Digging Deep

A casual discussion with a friend today and memories of this revived a latent thread of thought in my head.
We know a host of different things about different people in our lives. They know a host of different things about us. And in all probability, our parents know us the best. But is it true, the other way around? How well do you know your parents?

I mean, really? As far as I know, I know my Mom as ‘my Mom’. What was her past like? If not down to the minute details, do I know how she was – or what shaped her thoughts? What did she aspire to be? (She keeps saying she’d have loved to be a lawyer)

Now that I am over my turbulent teenage (and its share of ‘crushes’) – I wonder, did she also ever like somebody? Have an infatuation? Fall in love, perhaps? Given that she went to an all-girls school, I doubt she had the opportunity; but did she? Was she a romantic? What did her friends think of her? What kind of a person was she at school – nerd, geek, the meek or the bold? I know she was a real sporty person. She was known to have a ‘serious’ façade; and then she made a great friend. And this girl was so happy to know have discovered a sweet friend in Mom, that she wrote her a poem dedicated to her, and gave her a pet name!
One day, during a casual discussion my uncle mentioned how Dad used to go to the paddy fields and enjoy playing flute – and for a minute, I couldn’t believe my ears! He used to play flute? What other talents did they have? Were they into singing or performing arts? (One thing they both agree – they weren’t into writing or anything remotely literary, and are surprised that we do!)

There are some things our parents don’t talk to us about; there are some things we don’t talk to our parents about. It could be the financial situation, familial problems and rifts, matters of the heart, or a discordant marriage. We end up remembering and piecing information from others or from what we see – later when we come of age, they probably discuss or we try to understand; else, it still remains a mystery in patches. And we do the same – after we ‘come of age’ we don’t discuss certain things with parents. It could be our new found habits (say, drinking, smoking or drugs) or our relationships (and allied activities!). I remember, as kids we used to report right to the colour of our teacher’s sari to Mom. In a couple of years, it became ‘It was as usual’, if Mom asked ‘So how was school today?’

Just as we piece our parents’ lives – they do piece ours, in some ways.

It is not intentional – some parts of their life remain hidden because it never came up. Or they never felt the need to discuss it. Time changes things, and so does our changing age (and theirs). There’s a part of them, their lives, we’ll probably never know. And there’s a part of you, or your life that they’ll probably never know.
And even though I may not entirely know who they were, I could still try. That’s why when we cozy up with Mom on lazy afternoons, tightly hugging her – we gently cajole her to talk about herself. She very vividly describes her childhood, how it was to live in a joint family. About her marriage, how lonely she felt in Dubai, how she raised us and how life has been for her. Sometimes I think I should document it somewhere; make a story of her life. For now, I am busy unraveling it. One page at a time.


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