Monday, June 8, 2009
When Life Came A Full Circle!
" I thought about you a moment back", she said, her voice heavy with quiet happiness.
And, after a moment's pause, she blurted almost shyly "I was thinking that the books you read are quite qualitative....And, I felt proud of you"
My eyes suddenly blurred. And,my throat choked with emotion.
This was the mother who had introduced me to the pleasures of reading, much before I could even walk a straight line with my baby feet.
A student of literature and a voracious reader, Amma has had a life-long love affair with books.
A passion which she passed on to me.
With reverence and pride.
As a torch bearer would, his precious flame.
As I went through life devouring Austen, Dickens and the rest of their ilk, before progressing to more contemporary writers, Amma's roles as wife and mother ate into the time reserved for her beloved books. And, even as my love for books grew with each passing day, her passion waned into barely aglow embers.
Years passed by, and, I grew into adulthood.
Into a career, and, life in a big city far away from home.
But, I never stopped reading.
Despite the demands on my time, I read voraciously.
On the bus.
And, in bed late at night.
Maybe I was driven by a deep-rooted fear.
That if I slacked, I would loose my passion too.
Just as Amma did.
I came home on visits with bags bursting at the seams with books.
Which I would wave tantalisingly at her face as I danced circles around her in our huge kitchen.
But, Amma was made of sterner stuff.
And, never bit the bait.
Until my last visit home.
When I left Kakar's 'Mira and the Mahatma' behind.
A month later, I sent home some books for a cousin, who was to visit.
And now, this call.
As I struggled to recover my composure, my mother went on " Mira and the Mahatma was riveting. I enjoyed it tremendously. Even the Ice Candy Man looks interesting, so I thought I would read it before passing it on to your cousin. In any case, she is not due to visit in the immediate future"
" Sure Amma".
And then, crossing my fingers, I held my breath as I asked her the million dollar question " Shall I send you some more books from my collection?"
For a split second, she hesitated.
" Well, not immediately. But, maybe when you come home next."
" What kind of books will you get me? I am interested in good books...good language...strong storyline..."
Again, a pause
" I leave it to you to decide. Bring me what you think I will enjoy......"
And, then she was back to her impressions about Miraben and the Mahatma.
As she gushed excitedly, a voice from the past rang loud in my ears. Of Amma reading out to the wide eyed, baby me about the good king Richard or Richard Lion Heart as he was known, who went on a crusade leaving his kingdom in the hands of his evil brother John.
Sudhir Kakar may never know.
But, I will always remain in his debt.
For not just writing a book that closed the circle of life between a mother and daughter.
But, also for leveling the playing field between us.