Sarojam – My Mom’s Autobiography

My mom recently published her autobiography but wasn’t able to unveil due to COVID. By the time it was done getting printed, it had garnered so much curiosity that many didn’t wait for the unveiling and simply grabbed their copy. Most literature enthusiasts are lauding it as one of the best in the world of autobiography because of the brutally honest depiction of life struggles that resonate more than many of the happy events mentioned in the 450 plus pages of raw emotion. After all, “Autobiography is only to be trusted when it reveals something disgraceful. A man who gives good account of himself is probably lying. Since any life when viewed from the inside is simply a series of defeats.”

She is a strong woman considering the tumultuous past being a 9-year old runaway child bride to raising herself to be the best text-book writer focusing women in best light. Despite this trait, she has a very gullible side to her. Yes, just like the moon, she is nearly perfect with this imperfection. She gets perturbed by badly spoken words or references spoken against those she holds close to her heart. Mavens and those who claim nirvana may say, “ignore and be positive”, “karma is bitch”, “what goes around, comes around” “barking dogs don’t bite”, and several such reassuring things. But she always believed in sharing her stories knowing they would be met with hostility. And she gloats that she even invented her own unique ‘barking’ that should be ‘patented’.

Few months ago she was visiting a relative and their oldest, humiliated her for being a senior writer and writing about people who may have troubled her. Do remember, that no names were mentioned. So it became an instance of “gummadikayala donga ante bhujaalu thadumukunnattu” meaning, “When asked who’s the thief, he started sweating bullets.” At 80, she has put herself to best use as she doesn’t believe in waiting for karma take its course. So, she gave a piece of their mind – they even may have lost their negativity considering that she doesn’t care whose living room she is in to teach a good lesson. Because if people like her don’t no one else will and people will continue to believe that it is an okay thing to have a loose tongue.

Ask anyone who had been verbally abused how they feel and how receiving tips of enlightenment makes them feel. I still don’t see anyone telling a physically abused person to forgive and forget their perpetrators! By virtue of my mom’s upbringing she may have kept quiet for some years awaiting ‘kismet’ to teach the bravado. But then, one day when I was probably in kindergarten I heard her vocabulary expand to the choicest of the language and with the highest relevance. It was sheer joy to watch that happen. Since she takes no crap and gives none. And continues to advocate women and men alike to not suffer and sacrifice their basic dignity.

Until that day, anyone could’ve felt like a bollywood hero walking in and out of our home to just be able to sit in our living room and hurl accusations or taunts however they feel like. Once she did what she did, the visitors just vanished and we got our weekends and holidays back. I learned from the best and very young. Although I am still learning to do what she does as eloquently and effectively. She brought me up so I don’t become and endearing Appu – the baby elephant but that which rambles, thwacks, creates uneasy recrimination and kicks dust, just like her when it is against something that is wrong. Through her writings or other methods she’s fearlessness personified! Call her a societal watchdog or barking dog (which some have already) – who cares. Some of her masterpieces have been written in angst and humiliation.

The Bhagvad Geeta says, “we should be discussing, reasoning and agreeing/ disagreeing with the other person in a conversation. That’s civility. If we fight with words on drop of a hat, then we are worse than animals because animals too fight but can’t abuse because they cannot speak. We misuse our strength of conversing.” Perhaps until the receivers like mom and offenders like hers achieve that bliss, those that have already attained, need to brave with her while she writes, rants and raves. It’s always tough to write about betrayal especially that coming from next of kin. But my mom, “believed she could, so she did.” The essence of her Autobiography is a simple message – “Be strong enough to stand alone, smart enough to know when you need help, and brave enough to ask for it!”

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