Better To Ask Than….
Smriti and Sneha, were on the phone, as usual after dinner, talking about their mother. Their mother was at present, with Sneha, on one of her regular visits. She had suddenly taken ill, so had to extend her stay. She had developed a nasty, stubborn cough, that persisted for a long period of time. Both the sisters were working women so they could get time to talk, only this late. Sneha was a bit annoyed and she was complaining about their mother to her younger sister, Smriti.
“Mom is getting really difficult by the day. She refuses to co-operate.”
Smriti was quite taken aback at this complaint. Both the sisters had a beautiful relationship of understanding and trust so they could share their feelings very easily. But Mom not co-operating? Mom was the most adjusting and patient person that Smriti ever knew. Well old age is unpredictable, they say, thought Smriti.
“What happened didi?”she asked Sneha gently, “you really are disturbed about something.”
“Yes I can not understand Mom. I try to look after her to the best of my capabilities but Mom just refuses to do what she is told to, for her own good. She is behaving like a child,” burst out Sneha.
“Yes of course didi, you are taking care of her so lovingly. Mom keeps talking about your thoughtfulness and in fact keeps getting so emotional about jiju and Rohit too for what they are doing .. so what is exactly the problem, didi?” Smriti tried to pacify her sister.
“ You know, I had got her woolen stockings, made of the softest wool, some two weeks back, to be used in this severe cold. Yesterday while cleaning her cupboard, I found them lying there, unopened,” said Sneha angrily. “ Why couldn’t she wear them when I had told her to? Because of this carelessness on her part, she is unable to get rid of her cough. Does she not realize how difficult it is for me to manage everything?” Sneha almost broke down.
Smriti did not know what to say. She tried to pep up her sister and then they both hung up. After a week, Smriti had to go to Sneha’s town on work, so it was decided that Mom would come to Smriti’s place with her. Mom came to Smriti’s place. She kept talking of how thoughtful and caring Sneha, her husband and her son , Rohit were and how fortunate she was to be blessed with such loving daughters.
Mom settled down at her younger daughter’s house and one day when Smriti was taking out her mother’s woolens to wash, she saw the pair of stockings, clipped and unused. She remembered the conversation with her sister and casually asked her mother, “Are these your stockings mom?”
“Yes beta, they’re mine. Sneha had bought them for me. See, how soft they feel. Really Smriti, this girl would think of me all the time. A wonderful child she is,”said mother with love dripping from her words.
“But I see they are unused mom?”asked Smriti carefully.
Smriti was unprepared to see that fleeting shadow of shame on her mother’s face.
“Beta, this old age throws your life for a spin.You know I have lost my bladder control to quite an extent and out there in Sneha’s house, the wash rooms have wall to wall, rugs on the floor. I always would be scared that I may not be able to control myself for the time it would take to pull down my stockings … so I thought it better not to use them..” muttered mother, all red faced.
Smriti had tears welling up in her eyes, to feel her mother’s embarrassment, her helplessness. Could she have ever guessed this, had her mom not told her? Never! and her own daughter, to have misunderstood her! Blaming her to be non co-operative.. Smriti went and hugged her mother .
How easy it is for all of us to judge people, by our own parameters? It would be so much better to accept that assumptions may be the easiest but most dangerous. If only we can ASK what ever we do not understand and save mountains of misunderstandings and heartbreaks.
Mother sat there gently streaming her fingers through Smriti’s thick black hair.