The art of storytelling is expensive and I am far too impoverished to acquire the art. But this mother’s day, I would like to risk it by delving into a series of stories; stories that would reconnect us with our mothers and remind us how little appreciation we give than they deserve.
After all, our mothers were the first storytellers we lent our ears to.
Long ago when education was as sparse as hen’s teeth and Christianity rampant like the K-pop sensation, a family of five lived in a thatched house with a mud flooring.
The house was owned by a young widow with her four children who were 3, 6, 8 and 10 years of age. Widowed at a very young age with so many mouths to feed, the young mother was always torn between house work and manual labor.
Now, it was such that they neighbored a rich family. The neighbor’s kitchen was built very close to the hut that every sound made in that kitchen was just an earshot away.
The menu of this poor family was simple, boiled rice and boiled leafs (vegetables) with salt. This was all that the young mother could offer and her children seldom complained. On the other hand, the menu of their rich neighbor was lavish, from fried potatoes and vegetables to savoring meat!
So, every time the neighbor prepared their meals, the sizzling of the oil, the crackling and spitting of the vegetables and meat in the frying pan, all these sounds could be heard next door. This time of the day was when the young mother would cringe in agony and cry in silence because her young children would sit next to her with gleaming eyes and exclaim, “Mother, we should also eat fried aromatic dishes and sizzle our vegetables in the oil like our neighbor!!“.
Each time, she told them that she will definitely cook it the next day. It broke her heart that let alone affording meat or potatoes, she couldn’t even afford the cooking oil! (Back then it was 10rs (INR) for 250gms of cooking oil). Unable to watch her children exclaim the same wish each night, she decided to cook them what they wished for.
One day, when the mother was cooking their dinner and the children were huddled outside their hut playing five stones (long-kot-la), the children heard the sizzling of the vegetables from their hut. They were excited that finally they were going to eat good food. That night, the children had the heartiest meal, each plates licked clean. One of the children exclaimed that they must eat this delicious meal everyday!
Now before they went to sleep, the youngest child hugged the mother and mumbled that if their father was still alive, they would be eating such delicious meals everyday. While the children had one of the best sleep with smiles, the young mother went to sleep in tears.
No, she hadn’t cooked the meal with oil, she couldn’t afford it yet! She took their brass pot and heated it well on the fire before tossing in the water soaked vegetables. She simply replicated the sizzling sound of her neighbors as she knew that since the children had never tasted a dish cooked with oil, they wouldn’t know the difference.
That night, she cried, not for her fate but because her children were devoid of as little as a simple dish cooked with oil. Just the sound of a replicated sizzling of oil made her children believe that their dishes tasted the best, maybe even better than their neighbors.
From then on, although the misery of being so impoverished ate her away each night, she always heated the brass pot and tossed in the vegetables every day. She made sure that her children went to bed feeling as privileged as their rich neighbor although it tormented her.
Doesn’t it break your heart on how unappreciative we are for the little sacrifices our mothers have made for our little joys?
I want to let this series be a tribute to my mother(s), grandmothers, aunties, and sisters who have raised me to the person that I am today. Also, to the inspirational women who wouldn’t stop striving for their loved ones even when the world crumbled on their back.