13 May 2018 19:05 IST

Every day is mother’s day

And it’s best to remember this. You forget at your peril

Like only the second Sunday in May is the day to remember our mothers. Or the third Sunday in June, when we may think: Oh yeah, there’s dad, too. There’re other days too, in different cultures, for different reasons, but it seems silly to earmark one day as Mother’s Day as if every day isn’t. Whether we love our mothers or not, whether we’re close to them or estranged from them, the individual who gave birth to us is the mother and the mewling creature that emerged from her body after having been sheltered, well or ill, for 10 months, is her child. This semantic connection exists even if the attributes associated with the relationship do not.

Of course, this is the worst-case scenario. The best is epitomised in the iconic scene from the 1975 Yash Chopra film Deewar in which two brothers, Ravi and Vijay, played by Shashi Kapoor and Amitabh Bachchan respectively, face off in a tension-charged moment. “ Aaj mere paas buildingein hain, property hai, bank balance hai, bangla hai, gaadi hai. Kya hai tumhare paas?” (Today I have buildings, property, a bank balance, a house, a car. What do you have?) ‘bad’ guy Vijay asks, literally spitting out the words. And Ravi, the ‘good’ guy replies, softly but strongly, “ Mere paas Maa hai. I have my mother.

Music director AR Rahman quoted this line when he received the Oscar for music in the 2008 award-winning film Slumdog Millionaire, and it will continue to be quoted by others significant or otherwise for a long long time. Dialogue writers Salim-Javed hit the jackpot with those four words. That’s how powerful the idea of ‘mother’ is, no matter how cleanly we may cut the umbilical cord, no matter how early. The notion of mother is far more portentous than the fact, and in most instances the notion will swing the debate.

So if the idea of amma is so filled with feeling that it instantly triggers the waterworks, shouldn’t every day be celebrated as Mother’s Day? Pondering this I drifted off into a daydream in which I woke up one morning and jumped out of bed singing, “Ooooh, it’s Mother’s Day! Let’s go get a card!” Card purchased at the nearest bookstore, it was promptly delivered into the hands of Mother of Mother’s Day fame. “Thank you!” Mother of MD fame responded as she read what it said, and put it on the table. The following day I jumped out of bed shouting, “Heyyy! It’s Mother’s Day! Here we go!” Card duly purchased, it was safely deposited into the receiver’s hands aka MoMD fame. She then said, taken somewhat by surprise, “Oooh, what’s this! Another Mother’s Day card? So sweet! Thank you!” She pulled the card out of the envelope, smiled at the words, and put it away on the table. “MD again!” I squealed as I rolled out of bed the next day and dashed off to the bookstore and bought a card and gave it to MoMDf and MoMDf accepted it somewhat less enthusiastically if truth be told, and then she threw it on to the table.

You can guess the rest. Every day, for 365 and a quarter days, I jumped out of bed, the springs gradually beginning to get less springy but full of vim and vigour regardless, and ran to the store. Of course, the store round the corner ran out after a week, so it was a longer trek over the course of the year, getting longer and longer as the stores began to run out one by one. By Week 2, MoMDf stopped reading the cards, she simply threw them on the table, and from Week 3 onward they went directly from my hand to the table, bypassing MoMDf altogether because she was, quite simply, fed up and had whipped up a pretty blue funked up aura around herself and you should know it takes far more courage than I have to deal with that particular kind of aura.

Then it was cleaning day. The day all mothers no matter how loving, how doormattish, how oppressed, how empowered, how whatever… the day they get into a frenzy and throw out everything and anything that gets in their way. So there she is, my MoMDf, ferreting out and throwing away cups, books, clothes, showpieces, even glittery little Ganeshas and Laughing Buddhas, when she comes to the Table of Mother’s Day Cards, all 365 and a quarter of them. And stops. She surveys the topply card mountain and with one wild sweep of her hand sends all 365 and a quarter flying across the room and the thence darkness disappears in hence light. “No wonder!” she kind of yells sort of triumphantly. “No wonder this room was so dark. These bally cards were blocking the light! Disappear darkness! Disappear….” Oh the things she said, all those B and S and F words emanating from those sainted lips, they still make me shudder. Then, when she saw me lurking in what dark corner remained, she thundered (I swear there was lighting): “You will NOT bring any more Mother’s Day cards into this house EVER again, you hear me???!!! NEVER! EVER! Mother’s Day be D!!!!”

Now, after that, could I ever dare? Did I ever? Do you even have to ask? No wonder there’s only one Mother’s Day. And even on that day I dare not for fear of my life. Angry moms are the worst kind of villains. Robert-Shobert can go to H. An angry mom scene is when I would never attempt the Ravi/Shashi dialogue, no matter how iconic. I would run screaming: “ Mujhe chhodo! Mere paas Maa nahin hai! (Spare me! I don’t have my mom with me!)”

“What are you whimpering about?” A sharp, loud voice cut through my consciousness and shook me awake. “I thought you were writing an article for BusinessLine on Campus, instead you’re snoring away and mumbling to boot! Up, up! Enough! Get cracking! Don’t be a lazybones! Sleeping all the time!”

Yup, that was my mom, my MoMDf, all of many years old, berating her daughter also all of many years old. And like always, I obeyed her unquestioningly. Some things never change. Just like every day is the Day of our Mothers.

Are you wondering what the quarter of 365 and a quarter cards was?