As a child I lived under the thumb of my father. My mother was the silent one. She was in a way a shadow, who nevertheless managed the household silently. My father taught what he thought I ought to know. It was dinned into me even at times with a rod. My adolescence was in unlearning a few things that I thought didn’t bear my seal of approval. Everything that he taught me for my own good somehow went underground so to speak. Now I’m surprised it has become part of my behavior.
For all that parental imposition of values, as an old man I see my father more as a shadow and without emotional coloring a faded image in my memory.
With years my mother of whom I knew very little looms larger. I saw very little as she passed her self effaced in the glare of my father’s personality, and later as she faded progressively by illness to her end.
Now my thoughts often dwell on her and think, ‘I could have got to know her better if only I tried?’ Is it a mystery that love and life could work at cross purposes? While there is room for both life that is on the go takes love for granted and when it is too late love luxuriates in the ‘what might have been’.
Before sending me off to boarding school, at the age of twelve, my mother gave me a few words of advice.
One of which was this,’Mon, you are on your own now. We are not around to pick up the broken pieces. If you break things you have got to make good of the loss. You are on your own among boys who may not have love for you. They may hurt you. We are not around to wipe your tears or comfort you.’ I managed to rely on myself and avoided getting into trouble. My boarding school days helped me win quite a few friends. (Even now I have kept them as friends.)
If my father was all harsh hiding his love my mother was all love in silence. It is her advice that rings still in my ears.
It is a mystery of love or whatever has become of it.