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To mom, with love

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Swati Lahoti pays tribute to mothers, who not only shape their offspring but an entire family line

Life has not been a bed of roses for me. My late father wanted me to become an IAS officer. Though I was a good student, I made some strategic errors and failed my father miserably. Though I am a postgraduate in English, with an MBA in marketing and HR, I never achieved what my father dreamt for me. My mother, Kamala Agarwal, who saw me struggle unsuccessfully all these years, remained a pillar of support. It wouldn’t be an overstatement to say that she has been a catalyst in my evolution as an individual and mother. It is she who never let me forget that I have the potential to achieve big things in life and that it was never too late.

I tasted success for the first time when Alind, my elder son, made it to IIT, and I assigned this beautiful journey to paper in black and white. The Wind Beneath His Wings is an account of the two years of preparation that went into making this possible. When my mother read the book, eyes tearing up, she said, “Wherever he is, Papa would be proud of you.” The book happened to be my redemption as a daughter.

Coming back to my mother, consciously or subconsciously, she has influenced my mental makeup as a mother and interactions with Alind. During his preparations for IIT, there were times when he used to think it was just not in him to nail it. It was then that I had to constantly assure him that he was capable of this and much more. When it came to Alind’s preparations, the tenaciousness with which I supported him, knowingly or unknowingly, I derived from my mother. As they say, a child may fail to listen to his parents but will never fail to imitate them.

What I am about to narrate might seem like a small incident but bears testimony to the dedication of a mother. My chacha was getting married. I was in the second grade then and my elder brother in third grade. An old teacher used to come home to tutor us. We were a well-knit family (still are!) and my parents were completely involved in the wedding. Mother didn’t want our studies to suffer and reckoned that if we studied for two hours in the morning, we could have fun during the day. Our teacher proposed that if mother could prepare tea for him, he could come at 6 am and teach us for two hours. It was peak winter with a biting cold wave. Despite that, mother would still be up in the wee hours of the morning, wake my brother and me, and prepare tea for our teacher. This arrangement continued for two weeks till the wedding was over. Never once did she complain about forsaking her sleep for us.

In the course of life, I have picked up many practical tips from my mother. She has taught us the importance of discipline, which I too have inculcated in my sons. To achieve any goal in life, we need to be disciplined. Alind made it to IIT only because of his disciplined approach. He balanced studies in his daily routine with sports and entertainment. That helped him stay focused without getting bored or tired.

Also, if my sons and I appreciate the simplest of food, it’s because of my mother. We have learnt not to be finicky about the food we eat and be thankful for every morsel on our plate. Here, I would like to share an incident I have narrated in my book. Alind was part of a group chosen by his coaching class to be trained intensively for IIT. It was a residential programme of about a month. Many students left the coaching midway as they were tired of the minimal vegetarian fare during meal times. Alind stayed the course, finished the training and did well in his exams.

Today, when I look back at life, I realise how quietly and unassumingly my mother had been moulding me for taking on the trials and tribulations of life. Through me, she has moulded my sons as well. At 73, she still continues to inspire us. On Mother’s Day, I would like to raise a toast to every mother in the world, who indeed is the wind beneath the wings of her child!

Lahoti is a Mumbai-based author. Her debut book The Wind Beneath His Wings, published by Prabhat Paperbacks, is a mother’s story of ups and downs, smiles and tears, and triumphs and tribulations

Photo: iStock
Featured in Harmony — Celebrate Age Magazine
May 2018