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Thursday, October 03, 2013

Holy mother!

The first editorial in Anandabazar Patrika, Sunday 22nd September edition, was as follows (the translation is mine):

Mothers and lies

Worship of mothers is a perennial thing. It is taken for granted that a mother would hug her child to her breast and gladly make any sacrifice for its sake. A child may be a black sheep, a mother never, she cannot be. No doubt there is some truth in this notion, but a great deal of blind faith and melodrama also work to keep it alive. A stern look at reality will show us a lot of mothers who make mincemeat of their wards’ love lives and sex lives, or otherwise perpetually cramp their personal space and limit their individual growth as human beings. In most of the cases of ‘honour killings’ that have been reported in recent times, a mother has been either directly involved, or given her full consent to the horror. Giving birth is merely a biological ability: it does not by itself glorify anybody spiritually. To raise a child well and educate him to live a valuable life is no mean task, and to do that one has to work hard at evolving into a good human being first. Mothers all around us incite their children to win the ratrace even by hurting the interests of their friends, and drive deep into them the disgusting habit of blaming everybody but themselves for their woes. And in most cases they inculcate this kind of meanness because they ‘love’ their children. Just as many animals enthusiastically devour some of their young so that the rest might have a better chance of survival. A certain species of eagle watches quietly while the stronger of its fledglings bully and kill the weaker ones. The panda bear mother, if it gives birth to twins, nurtures one and abandons the other. Perhaps natural selection favours this kind of arrangement, but surely the babies that are rejected and killed do not find much truth in the adage that a mother’s love is the most wonderful thing in the world!

Recently an American wrote this obituary shortly after the death of his mother: ‘Six of her eight children are alive, whom she subjected to every sort of persecution all her life…on behalf of all the children she made part of her unholy, malice-driven life, I am happily celebrating her demise, and hoping that next time round she might be at the receiving end of the same kind of barbarous cruelty and humiliation.’ This particular mother might have been an aberration, but even ordinary mothers all around us beat their children, mock them harshly, drown them in the pit of self-loathing by comparing them endlessly with others to their disadvantage, obstructing every attempt they make to find a little happiness in their own lives, and drive myriad little needles so deep into their souls that the wounds rankle lifelong, and destroy all possibility of their living decent lives of their own. Many mothers are certainly good mothers; however, it is equally true that many of them are cruel, abusive, or at least totally indifferent to their children. On the internet you can find blogs titled ‘I hate my kids’; there are even ‘groups’ of such like-minded mothers. All relationships can be the cause of either joy or sorrow: the mother-child relation is no exception to this rule. Camus created quite a stir by asserting this unpleasant truth in The Outsider. In that novel it was the son who was unbothered about his mother’s death. One rarely meets mothers who are indifferent to their children, even abusive in dealing with them, in literature. But one does in reality.”

S.C.: To the above, I shall add only that I do not personally think this is a gender thing. It’s only that the indiscriminate deification of mothers gets to me sometimes, seeing that there are lots of fathers who try very hard to be good parents, and lots of mothers who don’t. The crucial point is that so few people work at being good parents, so few even know that it has to be worked at, or that it is such hard work: and yet, especially in this country, somehow manage to raise children who feel it is their ‘duty’ to feel love and respect and be attentive to their parents’ needs lifelong, including the need to be shielded from all criticism within the family and without: my parents, my parents über alles. Also, for the sake of variety I suppose, there are parents who try very hard, and eventually get kicked in the face for their pains... it is indeed the best of all possible worlds.


Saikat Chakraborty said...

Dear Sir,

You have been trying to say for decades what the Anandabazar has published now. This hyper glorification without any scrutiny is a trait which is handed down to us for generations. It is with the same mentality that we hero worship any person ranging from Gandhi to Sachin being happily ignorant of the fact that they are, after all humans. Perhaps higher beings than most lesser mortals, yet human and prone to fallacy. And it is the ability to deal with the faults and rise above them is what makes them great. Still we tend to veer towards extremes; either they are worshipped like gods or they are slandered for doing some 'Experiments with truth' or missing runs in a few matches. We are taught to respect our elders and take everything at face value and that parents can never do any harm. Even if they do not intend to do any harm, how can we be so cocksure that they know what is good for their children? This gives rise to a false notion among the children that their family is always right, their parents can never cheat nor indulge in any form of corrupt practices. Yet it never strikes them that if all their parents have saintly characteristics, how did corruption become so rampant?

With regards,

ananya mukherjee said...

Dear Sir,
That all biological mothers are always 'good' and think and work for the betterment of their children is indeed a very false notion that is ingrained in our society and as such if a child doesn't always listen to his/her mother and tries to make decisions on his own is often called'bad' or 'disobedient'. These 'loving' mothers quite often pressurize their kids and coerce them to compete with the others over unnecessary matters which breed frustration and also do not allow the child's personality to grow to the fullest trapping him/her in a kind of half-boy/girl, half-man/woman state. This is also the reason why some people cannot make up their own minds throughout their lives.Actually most so called mothers simply do not bother to know their children and neither can they accept the fact that every human being is an individual of his/her own and has his/her own likes and dislikes. They certainly have time for shopping, watching television, gossiping ..... but they simply do not have time for their kids.Therefore it is also quite often seen that sometimes when people and especially the teenagers commit crimes their mothers simply get dumbstruck and find things impossible to believe and this happens mainly because they never bothered to notice the hatred and cruelty in their sons'/daughters' eyes when they killed ants and other such insects mercilessly without any reason during their childhood. I have also observed that sometimes sexual frustration and the desire to fulfill all the unattained dreams and aspirations parents and especially the mothers try to 'live through' their children which indeed becomes a hurdle for the poor kids who are these days often seen dressing up in a very unlikely fashion, using vulgar terms while conversing with people, going to any extent and adopting unfair means to achieve their aims and what not.Its high time that we learn to think properly and differently and realize that not everyone is endowed with the capability of becoming a mother in the true sense of the term. And when you say that mothers are sometimes directly related to committing grave follies or horrible crimes I am reminded of the Deeti's plight in the novel Sea of Poppies.I wish these mothers had loved their kids less!

sayantika said...

Dear Sir,
I honestly feel that fathers often do not get their due because of over-glorification of mothers. And yes, we read so many stories of children abandoned by their mothers and even the Mahabharata testifies to that. This shows that the trend is nothing new and has continued since long. I have also seen and heard of at least two examples in reality of how hard-hearted mothers can be. I feel that I am fortunate to have a mother who accepts that I have a right to point out if she makes a mistake instead of blindly following what she says. Surprisingly, some of my cousins who are much older than me are terribly scared of speaking a word against their mother and they believe that it is disrespect and disobedience!
Thanks and with regards,

Abhishek Anand said...

Respected Sir,

The article is very true. According to Charles Stanley, "Motherhood is a great honor and privilege, yet it is also synonymous with servant-hood. Every day women are called upon to selflessly meet the needs of their families. Whether they are awake at night nursing a baby, spending their time and money on less-than-grateful teenagers, or preparing meals, moms continuously put others before themselves."
Thus, motherhood has to be earned. It cannot be gifted. As our tradition says, "The one who nourishes you is greater than one who has given you birth." Whenever we people talk about Krishna the child, we associate him with Yashoda. Although Deviki had given birth to Lord Krishna, it was Yashoda who had brought him up. That is why Krishna the child is known as 'Yashoda ke laal'.
Also, Karna considered Radha to be his mother, despite having the knowledge that he was Kunti's son, because the former had nourished him and given him the love of a mother. So, I believe that we should worship motherhood, and every woman who is infested with motherhood is a mother, deserving of respect. If a woman brings up her children for the sole sake of fulfilling her dreams and is ready to mete out as ill a treatment to them as possible, she is not a mother and therefore, deserves no respect.
I thoroughly agree with the last line.

Yours faithfully,
Abhishek Anand