Friday, April 30, 2010
HAZEL: I knew that mother would never use even a single paisa (old paise those days) of the money that was not our honest earning
IN MY DIARY FROM MY COLLEGE DAYS, I FIND THE FOLLOWING ENTRY ABOUT MY MOTHER. I HAVE EXPANDED THIS INTO THE NOTE ON SOLDIERING FOR LOVE AND PEACE WHICH I AHVE SEPARATELY POSTED ON FACEBOOK. AND SINCE, LIKE EVERYONE ELSE, I FOUND MY MOTHER TO BE AN ICONIC SAINT, I HAVE RESCRIPTED THE TEXT OF THIS ENTRY TO TALK ABOUT THE QUALITIES OF A SAINT. BUT ALL THAT I WROTE AND WRITE ABOUT SAINTS IS IN FACT ABOUT MY MOTHER. SHE HAD NEVER HAD ANY AMBITIONS ABOUT PROFESSIONAL CAREER OR MONETARY AMBITIONS. SHE WAS WHAT ISOMEONE HAS CALLED "A GOD INTOXICATED LADY." SHE TALKED TO ME ONLY ONCE ABOUT WHAT SHE WOULD LIKE ME TO BECOME IN LIFE, AND THIS IS WHAT SHE HAD SAID:" .........."IT IS YOUR CALL. I WILL BE AS HAPPY AND PROUD IF YOU LABOUR WITH HONESTY ON OTHER PEOPLE'S FIELDS AS I WOULD BE IF YOU BECOME AN HONESTY PRIME MINSITER OF THE COUNTRY.NO WORK --WHETHER THAT OF A SCAVENGER OR LABOURER OR A CLERK OR ANY OTHER -- IS TOO PETTY FOR YOU AND THERE IS NO DISGRACE ATTACHED TO ANY TYPE OF WORK. THERE IS ONLY HONOUR AND THERE IS ONLY PRIDE IN WHATEVER WORK YOU TAKE UP WITH HONESTY. I WILL ALWAYS BE PROUD OF YOU WHEN YOU COME HOME TIRED BUT NOT DISGRACED BY DISHONESTY. IF YOU WANT TO SEE THIS PRIDE INTACT IN MY HEART, JUST STAY HONEST TO WHATEVER YOU DO. THERE IS PRIDE ONLY IN HONESTY AND TRUTH AND HARD WORK. GREED, VANITY LUST AND FALSEHOOD ARE THE ONLY DISGRACE TO OUR SOUL. AND ABOVE ALL, NEVER ALLOW LOVE IN YOUR HEART TO VANISH. THIS IS OUR ONLY CONNECT TO THE UNIVERSE AND THEREFORE TO GOD. " THE REST OF MY LIFE HAS BEEN A STRUGGLE TO BE WORTHY OF MY MOTHER. UNFORTUNATELY, I HAVE NOT ALWAYS SUCCEEDED."Here is the entry from diary which I talked about.(Slightly vetted and retouched for linguistic clarity) The background to the note was incident in our family that had a profound influence on my psyche for the rest of my lfie. We had fallen on bad days and my father had been cheated of what would today be an estate for a prince to be proud of. We faced days when we didn't know where our next meal was coming from. I never saw any frowns or anxiety on my mother's forehead during these days of extreme poverty and helpless, because of which we lost one of our sisters to an illness we didn't ahve the money to buy a cure for. But Mother, who sobbed secretly at this grievous loss, calmly piloted us through the rough weather as my father fretted and almost lost his sanity because of the shock of the loss.But she loved him back to sound physical and mental health. Those days, one of the persons who had cheated my father and was very proud of having done that had decided to rub salt into the wounds of our family and had come to our house ( Mother India's bania fashion) to offer help. My father nearly shot him. But my mother had intervened and even said she would accept a token help ( Rs 50 ) from him since, as she said, " he had come with pious intentions. We do not turn away anyone from our door." This was heart-rending, especially as I knew that mother would never use even a single paisa (old paise those days) of the money that did not come our way through our honest work.I wrote this late that night: (The language has been suitably refined to give it greater clarirty.) "She has not made her identity a slave to vanity, nor has she allowed her vision to be so blurred as to lose the distinction between true moral dignity and false ego. What she is achieving is a success in bringing to human form all the values and feelings and ideas that the thought of God inspires in me (us) -- she is a saint and therefore not after personal gain anyway ; what she is truly expressing is the courage to help her detractors have a shot at greatness. She is actually allowing her detractor to rise in his own esteem. In doing so, she is sacrificing her temprorary sense of what others call "self-esteem" but what she views merely as "vanity". She would not allow that vanity to come in the way of her providing her opponent a platform to exercise and exhibit his greatness , his generosity. She is in fact making it possible for the good in him to come forth, even at the expense of her own perceived dignity. Quite often our ability to accept the enemy's grace is a more true measure of the magnitude of our character than our courage to fight him."A few more lines were added to it the next morning. I ahve expanded those into a facebook note. I have taken the liberty of altering its context to make it more generally applicable. But the substance, the facts and the meaning remain untouched.