Today is Mother’s Day—– here’s a toast to the 3 Moms in my life. Before anybody questions this noble statement from me, let me gently introduce them— Mrs Ashalata Sahu (my mom), Mrs Soubhagyabati Menon (my mom-in-law) and Mrs Aruna Shah (my foster mom). These three feisty women are in the sixth decade of their lives. They are happy without an iphone, a Laptop and regular visits to multiplexes and shopping malls. They just don’t understand the ‘use and throw’ funda of 21st century. And most importantly, they are never bored in life unlike many women of my generation. Here’s a toast to them —- with a dash of humor from the woman whom they all have pampered on innumerable occasions.
MRS ASHALATA SAHU:
My mother thinks all her daughters are more beautiful than the late Maharani Gayatri Devi. And the buck does not stop there. Even power-performers like Oprah Winfrey, Indra Nooyi will pale in front of her daughters. And to top it all, she feels her sons-in-law are lucky to have her daughters as their life partners. So they better be grateful and gracious for all this.
She is a lioness when it comes to protecting her cubs. Try telling her one word against me, there are chances that you will be ended up as mince-meat on the plate. She might scold us left-right but will not tolerate anything negative about her daughters from outsiders.
She is more punctual than the clock itself. She is extraordinarily disciplined and even now sticks to her routine of getting up early in the morning (which is mid-night for me) and doing her yoga.
She’s always well-dressed. She has an amazing collection of saris—both cotton and silk. Even though my elder sister now wears them often to the university, I hope I would inherit some of them in future.
A real tough cookie, you can’t bully her. She’s a perfectionist and we often tease her that’s why God chose not to give her a son. Probably that would have ended in a divorce for the sunny boy.
My love for story-telling, music and cooking comes from her. If you have not tasted her mutton curry, fish head cooked with vegetables (checheanda) and aloo bhaja then you have missed something in life.
She gave a dressing down to a middle-man (actually a senior academician and friend of my dad) who was trying to fix up a marriage proposal for me. She dismissed him by telling that her daughter was the Harvard/Stanford/Cambridge type (even though daughter dear never set her foot in any Ivy-league university). So, what’s this post-graduate boy (read average) from a university in Orissa aspiring for? Only my mom can do it.
KODAK MOMENT: Once I had picked up two sets of rangala-ranglee (wooden colorful) puppets from Ahmedabad (one for myself and one for my mom). She looked at her Rangla (the male puppet) and told me, “Why have you picked up a smiling one for yourself and an angry, devil-looking bearded one for me? This man is not for me.”
MRS SOUBHAGYABATI MENON
I will give you a Bravery Award if you can find a tea-spoon in her kitchen within fifteen minutes. Amazing food comes from her superbly disorganized kitchen. She just pooh-pahs me when I comment about her 24X7 earthquake ravaged kitchen. I have decided now onwards, I will be on ‘silent’ mode on this particular subject.
She’s the person with whom I enjoy a mug of beer and a glass of whisky (guys chill, this is much before Vicky Donor hit the screens)
Her general knowledge can put many journos to shame. Ask her about Obama, Brad Pitt and Shane Warne, she will give you all the dope.
She is the one who can talk for 20 minutes on a wrong number. I almost fell off my chair when she told me “Oh, it was a wrong number connection but I found out that he’s from the same village (Tatamangalm in Kerala) from where I did my primary schooling. So, I thought let me find out about what all has changed since then.”
She looked after me like a child for days when I was at my lowest after my father’s death. I will be forever grateful to her for that act of love and care.
God added extra doses of laughter in her DNA when he created her.
KODAK MOMENT: It’s difficult to choose one moment from her extra-ordinary reserve. But here’s one humble sample: Couple of years back, my husband (her loving son) had gone to Nepal in the thick of Maoist uprising. There were lots of violence and kidnapping of tourists happening then. I expressed my fear to my mom-in-law. She said, “Why are you so worried? Even if the Maoist kidnap him, they will give him back to us in less than 24 hours. And they will reward us for managing this unique specimen for so many years. That will be a lottery which will change our lives forever. Just chill.”
MRS ARUNA SHAH:
Melted butter —- that’s how I would describe her. She can cry at the drop of a hat. But don’t get me wrong, she has sailed through tough times with elegance.
She’s a great cook and always eager to learn something more. She uses her microwave in a much more productive way than Ms Deepika.
Her kitchen is sparklingly clean like that of my mom’s kitchen. A tad different from my mom-in-law’s kitchen. Each to her own.
She’s a real romantic at heart and she also sings very well. Every time I feel low, she tells me “Zindagi hai, bahne do.” She’s my sutradhar to God. Whenever I feel there’s a crisis looming over me, I make an SOS call to her and say, “Start praying for me.
She’s a very well-dressed person. It’s always a pleasure to buy a sari for her because I can just visualize how beautiful she would look in that sari.
She just doesn’t know the word laziness unlike her daughter (my soul-sister Prerna) and foster daughter (that’s me).
KODAK MOMENT: She makes the world’s best fajito (a mango-based Gujarati recipe). Once at her home, when I was raving about her fajito, her husband (who also had a great sense of humor) told, “My bhabhi (his elder brother’s wife) makes lip-smacking fajito.” Immediately Aruna aunty told with a straight face, “Yes, I have also heard about it. But I have never tasted it.” With that AK-47 shot from her, there was pin-drop silence for three minutes at the dining table. And, that’s why I love her.
(Now, please don’t ask me who’s the best cook among these three important women. The answer will go with me to my grave.)