The earliest memories of my demure, 5’4″ mosima (grandmother) are always associated with sunrises, woody smoke, cotton sarees and the fragrance of Charmis cream.
I’m nearly five I think, my summer holidays have just started and I burrow myself deeper into the thick blanket mosima has wrapped around me.
No books to be bundled inside my canvas bag, no homework to be checked by a hawkish uncle, no poems to be learnt by rote and no tests around the corner. I will away the chirping of the sparrows, the woody smoke from the kitchen and the morning light I knew awaited me. The chill of the morning along with the rhythmic snoring of my grandpa was enough to make me glide back to sleep where I knew I would dream of books piled high along with hot samosas and Boost.
But rain or shine, holidays or school my dearest would be up before the cock crowed. Yes, we had roosters at every corner in Bangalore then along with cowsheds. My city was truly a garden city. My road was lined with yellow and orange champa trees, their fragrance intoxicating and heady in summers; gulmohars in resplendent red during the monsoons and always, mosima pottering around the house like a goddess. She was omnipresent.
In the kitchen, making breakfast and packing lunch for a family of 8 that sometimes expanded to 15 and more. In the garden, watering her beloved papayas, pomegranates, banana, jasmine, hibiscus and all the other myriad bushes and trees that dotted our small plot. In the veranda giving a bowl of egg and milk to a stray dog we had adopted. She wasn’t a dog lover but there was just no way she could refuse to care for yet another creature. To her all of God’s creatures were to be loved and nurtured. She would be in the backyard serving coffee to the old lady who helped with cleaning vessels and washing clothes. To the market she would go with her cloth bag and me in tow. At times, I would accompany her on a 6 km hike to our ration shop to buy the monthly groceries of rice, dal, oil, sugar and wheat.
Till the day she was admitted to the hospital where she breathed her last my dearest never wearied of fulfilling her duties to her family, her neighbors and the ones she cared for.
Always the first one to wake up and the last to sleep. Non-complaining, ever-smiling, quick with a hug and a patient ear. Non-judgmental and driven, to be the best she could for us, her thankless brood.
Now as I pour over management books and read articles galore I realise my dearest had the traits of a successful entrepreneur and an inspiring leader.
- She worked harder than the rest of us, whom she united as family
- She never asked but gave willing of herself and commanded us with a gentle smile, never a tear or a threat
- She was always willing to give a second chance and yet another chance till proven wrong
- She was driven by an inner moral compass and higher principles
- She never advised without being sought
- She never sat on judgement but stood by your side to pull you up and get you going
As I look around me at papers piled high, clothes strewn around, empty bottles of water and the clock ticking by I see a sweet lady pick up and arrange with nay, a murmur nor a rebuke.I hear her sing, cook and clean with never a care for her aching body or thankless brood (smaller though it be) and I think to myself, I can’t go wrong. For my mother carries on where mosima left off.
I have a long way to go but I know the work ethics I have imbibed from the women in my family run deep within me.
As I trace my career, adventures in living, challenges and triumphs I realise it is my mosima I look to for inner strength and retaining my authencity of who I am and being the best I can be; of staying true to myself and bouncing back every time I fall.
“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness, that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, who am I to be gorgeous, brilliant, talented and fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small doesn’t serve the world. …As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.” Marianne Williamson, A Return to Love