Mother – is not just any other word in the dictionary. It encompasses a whole range of emotions – love, patience, trust, and a lot more. Across the world, irrespective of country or region, children have a special affection for their mothers. A mother not only gives birth to her children, but also shapes their mind, their personality, and their selfconfidence. And while doing so, mothers selflessly sacrifice their own personal needs and aspirations.
Today, I feel extremely happy and fortunate to share that my mother, Smt. Heeraba, is entering her hundredth year. This is going to be her birth centenary year. If my father had been alive, he too would have celebrated his 100th birthday last week. 2022 is a special year as my mother’s centenary year is starting, and my father would have completed his.
My mother is as simple as she is extraordinary. Just like all mothers! As I write about my mother, I am sure that many of you would relate to my description of her. While reading, you may even see your own mother’s image. A mother’s penance creates a good human being. Her affection fills a child with human values and empathy. A mother is not an individual or a personality, motherhood is a quality. It is often said that the Gods are made according to the nature of their devotees. Similarly, we experience our mothers and their motherhood according to our own nature and mindset.
In Vadnagar, our family used to stay in a tiny house which did not even have a window, let alone a luxury like a toilet or a bathroom. We used to call this one-room tenement with mud walls and clay tiles for a roof, our home. And all of us – my parents, my siblings and I, stayed in it. My father made a machaan from bamboo sticks and wooden planks to make it easier for Mother to cook food. This structure was our kitchen. Mother used to climb on the machaan to cook, and the entire family would sit on it and eat together.
Mother never expected us, children, to leave our studies and assist her with the household chores. She never even asked us for help. However, looking at her work so hard, we considered helping her our foremost duty. I used to really enjoy swimming in the local pond. So, I used to take all the dirty clothes from home and wash them at the pond. The washing of clothes and my play, both used to get done together.
Mother used to wash utensils at a few houses to help meet the household expenses. She would also take out time to spin the charkha to supplement our meagre income.
Mother has always had immense confidence in me and the samskaras she imparted. I recall a decadesold incident when I worked in the organisation side. I was extremely busy with organisational activities and could hardly get in touch with my family. During that period, my elder brother took Mother to Badrinath Ji and Kedarnath Ji. Locals in Kedarnath Ji came to know that my mother would be visiting once she completed darshan in Badrinath Ji.
However, the weather suddenly took a turn for the worse. Some people came downhill with blankets. They kept asking elderly women on the roads whether they were Narendra Modi’s mother. Finally, they met Mother, and gave her blankets and tea. They made comfortable arrangements for her stay in Kedarnath Ji. This incident made a deep impression on Mother. When she met me later, she said, “It seems you are doing some good work, as people recognise you.”
Today, many years later, whenever people ask her if she is proud that her son has become the country’s Prime Minister, Mother gives an extremely deep response. She says, “I am as proud as you are. Nothing is mine. I am a mere instrument in the plans of God.”
Mother made me realise that it is possible to be learned without being formally educated. Her thought process and farsighted thinking have always surprised me.
She has always been aware of her duties as a citizen. Right from the time elections began, she has voted in every election, from Panchayat to Parliament. A few days ago, she had also gone out to vote in the Gandhinagar Municipal Corporation elections.
Despite her advanced age, Mother has a good memory. She remembers decades-old incidents vividly. Whenever some relatives visit her, she immediately recalls their grandparents’ names and identifies them accordingly.
She keeps herself abreast of developments in the world. Recently, I asked her how long she watches TV every day. She replied that most people on TV are busy fighting with each other, and she only watches those who calmly read out the news and explain everything. I was pleasantly surprised that Mother keeps track of so much.
When I decided to leave home, Mother already sensed my decision even before I told her. I would often tell my parents that I wanted to go out and understand the world. I would tell them about Swami Vivekananda and mention that I wished to visit the Ramakrishna Mission Mutt. This went on for days.
Finally, I revealed my desire to leave home and asked them for their blessings. My father was extremely disheartened, and in irritation, he told me, “As you wish”. I told them that I would not leave home without their blessings. However, Mother understood my desires, and blessed me, “Do as your mind says.” To assuage my father, she asked him to show my horoscope to an astrologer. My father consulted a relative who knew astrology. After studying my horoscope, the relative remarked, “His path is different. He will go only on the path the Almighty has chosen for him.”
Today, whenever I meet Mother, she always tells me “I don’t want to be served by anyone, I want to go with all my limbs working.” In my mother’s life story, I see the penance, sacrifice, and contribution of India’s matrushakti. Whenever I look at Mother and crores of women like her, I find there is nothing that is unachievable for Indian women.