Filial musings

Have you seen a maggie ketchup bottle from the late 80s? It looked like a stouter cousin of the present day ‘hot&sweet’ bottle with the signature yellow cap. It also had a little rubber pop on the inside. Not to make this post about ketchup bottles; but a reused one just like that was big part of my childhood like no other thing.

Like most kids are wont to be, I too had many years of terrible immunity and stories of sickness. And anytime I’d sneeze a little harder than usual, my mother would make her concoction of boiled water and a plethora of homeopathy globules to make a white colored mixture in that very same yellow lid bottle. It was her strange belief, like many others, that once I had this medicine from this very bottle my sickness would vanish asap.

And with that first memory is how I began my journey with a parent who has deep set anxieties and fears that has shaped and reshaped almost all of my memories of her and with her.

As years rolled by, the yellow lid bottle went to oblivion, to be replaced with other such albatrosses, not just material things but emotional too. But in my memories ( and unfortunately I tend to carry too many ), that yellow bottle marks the beginning of everything i didn’t understand about my mother. In childhood years I was mostly afraid of her, in teenage I was mostly annoyed and following that it has been tending to indifference.

As i look back and analyze my mother ( which i often end up doing ), I have come to realize that fear and anxiety drove and still drives all of her actions. Anxiety for the safety of a girl-child made her wish for years on end that she was blessed with a boy instead. Her anxieties are so strong that it prevents her from realizing the import of her actions. I nursed the belief that my mother hated me, for many years as a child because of her open confession of this very wish in many subtle and non-subtle ways, to date.

Not all fears have been bad, however. Her anxiety about health and old age led her to adopt yoga and clean eating. She takes it to the T and doesn’t make any exceptions to her rules, which is even inspirational I must admit.

All of her other anxieties have extrapolated over years and culminated to a point where she cannot look beyond her little world, she has painstakingly created for herself; beyond her many rules, virtues and fears, she can only see as necessary, around them she has cocooned herself comfortably.

I spent a good part of last many years, during their visits to the country I now call my home or when i visit theirs, stupidly arguing my view points and willing to drag her out to see the world without the anxiety. I probably felt as the immature adult I had a better chance of getting thru to her than i had as a rebellious teenager. But I have realized that I have made my mistakes in doing so. I have acted at many times in ways that were hurtful, arrogant and impatient. And she being someone who holds her virtues and beliefs above everything else, it has done irreparable damage. I can say with conviction that from now on forever, we can be amiable but never close.

I have finally come to understand that a parent can love you to the moon, but it is also possible that they will never accept or forgive you, and many times even discount you for who you are as an individual. My mother loved, provided and protected me like no other. But she has struggled to come to terms with why her only child turned out to be someone not from her book of expectations. Unfortunately, I couldn’t follow the book and she wasn’t willing to make a few exceptions either. And neither of us is able to understand why the other can’t come around. Hence we are at this deadlock of no return. This quote about his mother from Jerry Pinto’s Em and the big hoom, comes to mind – “I wanted to understand her predicament because I was her son and I loved her with a helpless corroded love.”

And the baggage of filial-expectation-breaker I no longer wish to carry, I have realized I should stop trying to understand and correct, as well. For my sake and hers, its time we all moved on and started fresh. And since I am  beyond the point to broach this with her, I am hoping I can do this from my end, as a start. To not judge and emote for every incident based on a negative feeling from the past. To shed it all and see her anew. To ignore and not encourage what I find unfair but remember to appreciate a nice gesture. To be able to laugh at absurdities and pick my battles without open arguments but in actions.

Because life is too short, honestly to while away in vicious cycles of the past. My mother and I won’t see eye to eye on almost anything, I have no qualms or doubts about that. We have nothing in common except each other. And since i have made peace with what I always wanted to ( “flee from home” ), I should as well stop fixing my Utopian idea of it as well! And its time to give it a new beginning…….