Tuesday, April 30, 2019

My Mother's Sweet Smile

Being a farmer, my mother has the obsession of staying occupied – all the time. And as a farmer, her concept of land is that it has to be cultivated or else it is wasted. So every year, we fuss over her plan of cultivating potatoes because while she considers it important, we don’t see it that way. And more so because the yield is less than the amount of seed used. But this time, last Saturday when she was making plan of going out in the field to work again, I told her that I would accompany her. This I must say is the result of my being in RIGSS (Royal Institute for Governance and Strategic Studies for one month). We have always tried to reason: we used to tell her that our main occupation isn’t this; that it is a waste of time; we even cited the bad road, the fuel consumption etc. But once she has put her mind into something, she will never give up. We have known her stubbornness and determination all this time, but still, every year, we would oblige to her only after so much fuss.

So this time, I wanted it to be different. I told her that she would not have to try getting help from any one – not from my nephews; not from my in-laws. So on Sunday, two of us went while my husband stayed home with our two children. And I must admit that it was more than worthwhile.
I breathed fresh air of Spring in Thimphu; enjoyed walking barefoot on the soft top soil; I admired wild flowers, and apple blossoms. I thought, ‘nothing matches the beauty that nature gives you’. And as I stood in the middle of the field taking in the scent of the nature, and looked around people working, and also flowers of different colors, I felt like there is nothing more we need in our lives. All we need is to learn how to be content and we are happy and rich enough just as we are, right where we are.
It was also a time of personal intimacy with my mother. I looked at her twice – while we were talking intimately and caught the sweetest smile of her, looking at me, just as a mother looks at her baby, not at a child who she considers adult. This melted my heart and as gratitude engulfed me, tears welled up in my eyes. This mother of mine, who had gone through so much hardship, toiled so hard to bring up seven children, worked so hard to make sure that we did not suffer in debt even when so many farmers in their time gave up; this mother of mine who knew no tiredness, who saw only reward in hard work, and who says, for a farmer, everything is money, I am indebted. I wish I inherited at least 20% of her determination and outlook in life.

To some, she might appear like the most materialistic person. While her body was able, she and my father worked hard to make sure that they were above average in their community; they built a bigger house; cultivated larger landholdings; owned more livestock; took help of neighbors’ children so that we could go to school; and ensured that we did not feel deprived. Looking back, I do not feel that my childhood should have been different. I do not feel deprived that I never saw a TV till I was in class 10, or that I did not know how to flaunt myself or be fashionable like those who came from town. But at the age of 62 when she had to leave all of this behind – everything that she worked hard for, the house, the land, the livestock, and the home where she raised seven children, she could do it without a trace of regret and attachment. So while she works hard to live well, she also has the capacity to let go when it is time.

And when I could stand next to my mother and work with her, talking to her, laughing and smiling, also sharing a meal together, just the two of us in the field between the apple blossoms, I got an opportunity to look back on my life and count my blessings once more. If I had the choice, I want to come back as her daughter, and continue feeling blessed.

Because, this sweet smile, the lesson of hard work, her determination, and the power of self-esteem, I cannot trade them for anything in the world. My children must seem like my world because I am a mother now; but my mother is my world too. And I am a better mother, only because she showed it to me.

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