Mother Is Mother

My mother passed away on 6 Oct 2010. I can say I was with my mother till 60 years of my life. Prof. Sandhyaben Bhatt (Bardoli) sent me her article on her mother and asked me to tell her about my mother. But I was reluctant to spell a few words here and there about my mother because I was considering her beyond words. Anytime, I was remembering her and praising mother is always inadequate and much less compared to the mother’s dedication for her offsprings.

A mother takes care to keep an embryo till it becomes a full-fledged foetus in her womb for more than nine months at the cost of her beauty, all her physical and mental inconveniences and sometimes even life. She breastfeeds and takes full-time care for a long time. She stays awake to see the offspring sleeps and that continues for the whole of her lifetime - in my case sixty years! Now all this cannot be counted and repaid in any form. Dr A P J Abdul Kalam rightly said the only real person who cares and loves is “the mother”. Mother is the only person who lives her whole life for her offspring, ignoring her own life and needs. Mother is the only relative who goes on giving and giving expecting nothing in return. She keeps loving, blessing and doing all the work for the child she can do. She would offer everything she has, unhesitantly and unconditionally. I have seen all these in my mother and mothers like my sister-in-law Dr Gita Desai, my elder sister Sudhaben, Minaben V. Desai, my wife Bhavana and the list is endless.

Matru Shraddh at Sidhdhpur (Dist. Patan, Gujarat)

On 13-14 Sep 2019, my brother-in-law Rohitbhai, Gitabhabhi, brother-in-law Satishbhai – Sandhyaben and we two went to Sidhdhapur to do the post-humous religious formalities known in Gujarati as Saravani. It is said to be the only right place to do this ritual. The exact spot is Bindu Sarovar - an artificial pond created due to tears (બિંદુ ) of joy by the mother on the birth of a male child. The priest (Brahmin) taught us about this. Only godly relation in the world is between mother and child, because one is physically attached before birth and till one takes birth. Yes, it is to be accepted because all other relations are emotional, intellectual or even genetic, but not physical. Shreya Kataria in her book, We Are Alive To Live Only, wrote that my father did not choose me - the universe chose him to be my father. Yes, not a father, but the mother chooses to be a mother of a child and the mother gives birth after all her inconveniences. Well, this thought cycle inspires me to write about my mother.

Celebration of Life

Maltiben - mother of my friend Dr Mahesh Desai (Valsad) passed away at 99 years of age. Her three sons Maheshbhai, Dilipbhai and Vikrambhai (follower of Ramkrishna Mission) opted to skip the rituals of formalities done posthumously. Instead, they decided to make it an event of happiness and pleasure labelling it as a “Celebration of life”. On 15 Sep 2019, they invited 500+ relatives and friends to a get-together comprising of a delicious Anavil lunch preceded by a formal meeting. They prepared a PowerPoint presentation of 99 years of life, they arranged for the best known musical group and told us her life story there. Well, all those stimulated to tell the story of my mother.


Shardaben (this is her name after marriage - શારદા) alias Lalitaben (લલિતા) - my mother - was born on 27 Nov 1929. She studied in primary school up to XI standard and learnt to read, write and count. The conclusion of the study led her to marriage at 17 years of age. A poor family did their duty of getting the daughter married to conclude their only responsibility - seemingly a must for the parents! They got her married to a poor unemployed groom! There was no question of choice or any other consideration on the bride’s side. Well, she was obliged to take care of an unmarried uncle Shankarbhai initially and later a sister-in-law Kamala Ba (married but separated from an irresponsible husband). They were four when my father started a job in the veterinary division first and then got transferred to the Agriculture Department. No consideration of any family planning and she was a mother of six children - two sons and four daughters!

She was a workaholic!

There was no possibility of getting assistance from a maid or cook. All the household work, cooking and taking care of the family of ten was not optional. Maybe this made her a workaholic - getting up at 5 AM every day and working continuously without even a nap of noon till 8 PM to go to bed. The poverty of the lower middle class demands strict discipline of life and remaining in the society with a higher level of moral status demands hard work. We used to walk for 4-5 KM to reach Vedchha Railway Station. My daughter Vaishali has inherited all of these virtues in a real sense -  working hard, keeping home neat and tidy and following all others to maintain this. My mother wanted all six children and three others to follow her way of handling household work without any rest or relaxation whatsoever. She considered the household work for women above their education or joy.

My mother was a bit unhappy about how she was treated by her husband - my father. While being strict about his rules, ethics and his thinking, he hardly respected anybody else - be that his wife, children or anybody for that matter. We could never convince our father to change. Here, she had the solace of being a mother of six children who were always available to her service. My mother and my twin-brother Bhupat made a pair visiting all places and social functions together. She had great pride in her son and daughter-in-law being doctors. She was proud of her husband for being an honest Government Officer on a high post. Though not highly qualified, she was clever enough to learn anything she came across - be it cooking, sewing, knitting or travelling. She enjoyed eating at restaurants - Punjabi, South Indian, Chinese or any food she found there. She used to try preparing similar food items at home.

Another exceptional quality of hers was her health. She was never ill  – this may sound wrong and unrealistic, but this is a fact. Excluding her last illness of unconsciousness and bedridden state of two months, she never fell that ill. Maybe her hard-working had helped.

My parents stayed at Khara Abrama – my native place with my brother Bhupat’s family. I had a customary fixed timetable to meet them at least five days a year : (1) Gujarati New Year, (2) Uttarayan, (3) Holi, (4) Raksha Bandhan and (5) my birthday. She used to wait for us to be there with fixed menu lunch ready. And now, these visits are part of a history to be remembered.

My Another Mother - Kamala Ba (કમળા બા)

As I mentioned above, Kamala Ba stayed with us after being separated from her husband. We were twin brothers – so two sons needed two caretakers - one in addition to my mother. I was taken care o by Kamala Ba. Maybe I was more dear to her than anyone else. She was a cook par excellence – preparing any delicacies pleasing your tongue to its most. During 1977, while taking my care following my having jaundice, she was at B. J. Medical (Ahmedabad) hostel with my wife and me, her cerebral haemorrhage did not allow her to survive any more. On her demise, I lost my second mother - whom I loved equally or more than my mother - passed away serving me till last breath.

Now, I cannot conclude without mentioning what I have done for her.

As usual, no son should be content with whatever he has done for his mother. My mother was a mother of six children expecting all of them to be happy and healthy. All of us could hardly do much for her.
We could hardly understand that she needed to be appreciated, respected or felicitated. Now that she is no more any act would not reach her and tears of sorrow rolling down is the only answer.

Bonus Video: 

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  1. Good that you wrote about your mother.Yes, it would remain incomplete in any case..I m reminded of the hymn of Shivmahimna...even if the sea is used as ink,etc....But we love to remember her virtues,her affectionate nature and what not...loved to read about Kamalaba,too...

    1. Thank you, Sandhyaben for being with me in paying respect to mother--all the mothers including my mother.


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