A mother kissed her child and there, at that moment, I saw a smile on the face of everyone around her. They could all feel with the child the dampness of a mothers kiss. On my way, I thought of God, kissing man on his forehead like a mother, after the creation. Samuel Taylor Coleridge says, “The love of a mother is the veil of a softer light between the heart and the heavenly Father.”
Being a fat woman with a suckling child, mothers limit themselves to the cliché of shades trailing in the kitchen. Yes, that’s the way of the world. I must confess I would rather not be a rebel. However, something prompts me to think of this novel written in 1906 by one of the Russian revolutionists, maxim Gorky.
Mother, What an ironic title to narrate a bloody revolution? That was my first reaction when I picked the book and had a quick glance. Before long I witnessed one of the brilliant characters ever penned in literature, Anna Zalomova mother of Piotr Zalomov. The writer has deconstructed the ordinary discourse of motherhood to uplift her to the status to a violent revolutionist. For me, it took some time to sink in. Gorky, in his novel says, “Only mothers can think of the future - because they give birth to it in their children.”
Look at Ruth, who later became the wife of Boaz. A genuine reader would be at praise of her for her willingness to be thrown into a new culture, for the love she had towards her mother in law, and for the way she was fighting the perils of her life. Being sojourners in the land of Moab, she, along with Naomi, returned to the midst of many mocking tribes, seeking shelter in the Promised Land. Her ability to withstand all the troubles made her one of the significant characters in The Bible. Later in the New Testament, as we read Mathew narrates the genealogy of Jesus Christ this Moabite woman’s name appears as the grandmother of the lord.
The thought of a radical mother, who defies the traditional notions of what she should be, also found its expression in the writings of Bertrand Brecht; yet another revolutionist. His alienated mother portrayed in the play Mother Courage gives a heavy blow to the patriarchal society. She took her children through the war front in the absence of the male figure. Mother Theresa, who founded the Missionaries of Charity, walked down the streets of Kolkata with the message of Christ imprinted on her heart, to be a mother to destitute. Once somebody commented on this mother, “it is very hard to argue against her life which is so wonderfully lived”. She visited the dirty slums of that city and told herself, “this is hungry Jesus, I must feed him,” That promoted her to the sainthood to mediate between us and God.
In spite of the sweet words, seeta the beloved wife of Ram did not return to ayodya when her honour was questioned. Turning her back to all the earthly bliss she decided to end her life knowing that her karma, to bring up her sons to maturity, is over. Do the karma and don’t be concerned about the result, that sums the whole philosophy of Ramayana. Whenever I attempt to fathom this ancient wisdom my logic points me to the living example beside me in the kitchen, that’s a mother. George Eliot once said this about the influence of mother in her life, “Life began with waking up and loving my mother's face.”
In BC 323, heaven’s gates were banged with the cries of a mother’s heart, her name was Monica and her son had gone astray. Like Hannah she poured her heart onto Lord and after a few years, the one whom she was praying for, wrote the book city of God and confessions, the two most brilliant philosophical treatises on God and religion.
In Mahabharata, Kunti, the mother of Karna and the first three Pandava brothers, also the paternal aunt of Krishna, is portrayed as an epitome of motherhood. She remained sober when everything fell apart and never lacked tactics whenever her sons were in trouble. It is her prudence that saved pandavas from the burning palace of lakshagraha.
Above all, I have a mother, to whom I am indebted this life, each day I wake up to her prayers and before sleep covers me in the night I always sense her heart hugging me tight. The way she took care of me, who else would do? Her taste made me alive and her body kept me safe. She was even willing to fight the whole world for me.
At the back of our heads we still listen to all those values she imparted to us. In the world she is the only one who doesn’t really care how many times you hurt her. As, Arundathi Roy said, the story goes on, “My mother broke me and made me and broke me and made me, and she still does.”
These exceptional literary characters could subvert the patriarchal doctrines of motherhood and prove to us her uniqueness in being. Given a chance every mother could narrate an untold story, a tale of courage and revolution, and not the soap serial you would normally expect.