My mother and I…
Like many of you, during this time at home, I have been trying to get through some organization and general Spring cleaning. It’s really amazing just how much we accumulate through the years. It got me thinking…do we really “need” all these items, or is it just more “stuff”? I wondered if maybe it was time to simplify our lives. I went through closets and closets full of items, opening up suitcase after suitcase filled with a variety of long-forgotten memories. I stumbled upon a suitcase full of old saris and I just couldn’t bear to discard any one of them. It’s because each and every sari has a special story behind it. I am hoping that one of these days I can sit down with my granddaughters and tell them all the stories behind the saris. Who knows maybe they will want to keep some of the saris and wear them? I just hope they do and when they grow up they will remember why the sari was so special to Dadi (grandmother). I know that I still use one of my mother’s shawls to this day, despite the fact that it has some tears and is not in the best condition. It doesn’t matter to me because for me, it is somewhat of a security blanket and something to hold onto as a comforting memory of my mother.
Of course, going through my belongings comes with memories of my childhood, especially memories of my mother. My mother was one of a kind and just filled with wisdom. Her perspective towards life was very positive. She managed this outlook even though her health was not good. When she was resting, I would sit close to her. She would hold my hand and talk. I could feel her warmth as she softly spoke to me. She was gentle, caring, and giving. Oftentimes, I was left puzzled at some of our conversations because they were deep conversations that were hard for me to understand at my young age. However, now when I think back to those conversations, I understand that she was trying to pass on her values in addition to what things I should let go and give importance to.
While she had many health issues, one thing that stood out is that she never complained about feeling unwell. I was the oldest child and often felt I should help her take care of my younger siblings, especially given her health problems. Maybe this was all in my head because, despite her health issues, she was the most positive person and always had a smile on her face. One would never guess she was enduring health issues.
My mother was the type of person to always help someone out. She would see someone feeling unwell and immediately bring them home and take care of them. She did this no matter who the person was. I remember feeling confused as to why she bothered helping people she didn’t even know. When I asked her this question, she would simply calmly ask me to bring that person a glass of water. I knew to not question her further. This was simply my mom’s character.
She was full of life, always laughing and giggling. She felt it was extremely important to be involved with her children’s lives in every way. My friends loved to hang out with her and felt so comfortable around her. In the back of their minds, I knew they all wanted their moms to be like her.
I must have been nine or ten when I decided I would help my mother in cooking and learn the proper way to cook. Her hands had magic. She made simple food but her food always looked and smelled delicious. Even at that time she enjoyed serving food with style and flair. I still remember so many family and friends eagerly await her dinner invitations. When I asked my mother why her food tasted so good, her answer was simple. She smiled and said her first advice was to serve food with a smile. Next, she said always use fresh ingredients and only use spices are to enhance the flavors of the food, and not cover it up.
She also emphasized that cooking with love and care were also important ingredients in a dish because they added to the flavors of the dish. Back then, I didn’t understand her answer. How could cooking with love and care be important in a dish? But now I know exactly what she meant. Even today, sometimes when I am tired, I just want to cook something quickly and get out of the kitchen. But then my mother’s words would ring in my ears. She would always say you should never cook if you are tired, irritated, or simply not in the mood. She used to say it would affect the taste of the food. I did not understand what she meant and used to think her food tasted good because she just had great cooking skills and techniques. However, with age and having fed my family for 50 plus years, I realize there was wisdom in my mother’s words. Now when I feed my friends, family, and loved ones, I can see that my mother’s advice was spot on!
So, during this time, why not make your family feel loved and cook special dishes for them? I know that I have enjoyed doing so! Stay safe and healthy!