Sixteen year old Arnav came home one day to find his home empty. They lived in a small hamlet by the river. There was a dense jungle just a few meters away. Arnav saw that food had been cooked, but it was still in the kitchen. Oddly, the door to their small cottage had not been locked. He called out “Mama, Mama.” He went out towards the jungle and yelled till his voice was hoarse. He noticed his mother’s old shawl entangled in a bush by the water.
Arnav had been witness to many an argument between his parents. The latest one had been the previous morning, just before he left for school. Papa did not return till late evening. Arnav spent the day crying, thinking that his mother had either run away or drowned herself in the river. He knew she lived an unhappy life due to the repeated arguments and differences she had with her husband.
Later in the evening, when Papa did walk in, Arnav asked him, “Papa, do you know where Mama is?” Papa raised his eyebrows as if to interrogate, but instead said gruffly, “I don’t know and I don’t care either.”
Arnav prayed all night. By the morning he was sure his mother had left him for good. Bitterness enveloped him. How he hated her. He thought about how selfish she was to leave him alone in the world. How terrible of a mother to think of herself alone and overlook the needs of her child. Grief, bitterness, emptiness was making Arnav go crazy. Father couldn’t be bothered. He went off to the field to work. Tired and hungry, Arnav fell asleep, under the Neem Tree.
“Arnav, Arnav, wake up son, come lets go into the house, its hot here,” the voice seemed to come from another land. The cool hand on his burning forehead brought Arnav back to reality. He looked up at mother incredulously and said, “You’re back?” She just nodded and helped him up. Together they walked into the cottage.
“Hari came over from across the river. His wife was to deliver a baby. She was in a lot of pain. He came and took me in his boat. I thought I would be back by the evening. But, it took long. She gave birth to a baby girl. I hurried back as soon as, she was comfortable. I’m sorry, son, were you worried about me?” asked mother, in her usual calm voice.’
Arnav didn’t know what to say. “I saw your shawl by the river,” he whispered. “Oh! It got stuck when I was hurrying into the boat with Hari. I thought if I try to disentangle the shawl, it will delay us. So I told Hari, that I would get it later. His wife needed me desperately. I had to go.”
Arnav was ashamed of himself. How could he have thought such nasty things about his mother? She was such a selfless woman. She had gone to help another in her hour of need. She had always been there for Arnav. How could he have hated her?” How could he have doubted her love for him?
The wise say that God couldn’t be everywhere, so He made mothers. Mothers are perhaps the only creatures on Earth who give unconditional love … no strings attached!
Mothers know only how to give, give, give…. The word ‘take’ is not there in their dictionary. It’s only a mother who can bury her own sorrows into the vase that holds her blooming children. Mothers are made strong enough to not run away from things. If at all they have to run; they not run to; not run from …
For once, lets say ‘God Bless Mothers; in return for the endless times that Mothers have said to their children, “God bless you, my child!”