The first combination of two alphabets that made sense to me was 'Ma'. This two lettered tiny word means the world to me. Ma was my first teacher, she taught me alphabets, words and then told me what those words would mean.
I am from a Bengali family, and my mother who grew up in West Bengal developed a bengali dialect which I found very cute. Ma corrected me with my pronunciations every time she noticed the Bengali dialect in me, I have seen her correcting herself while teaching me.
Once while she was handing over a biscuit to me she asked me, what's this? The four year old me replied "Biscoot", stretching my hands to reach the snack. She raised her hand up to an extent where I couldn't reach and said say “Bis-kit.”
As soon as I pronounced the word correctly she lowered her hand and handed over the biscuit to me. Ma changed her dialect so that I learn it the right way! This was the first lesson I learnt from my mother, there's no age to limit learning, and a teacher can learn even while teaching.
After a few years when I was fluent with my language, she told me, “The pronunciation of words can make you a good presenter but the words you choose will decide your real identity!”
I was in the seventh standard when my mother told me this. With each passing year this sentence turned out to be more and more meaningful. Its impact made me what I am today!
My mother is a Bengali at heart, she didn't spoil me but made me habituated to sinful Bengali dishes like Alu Posto, Doi Mach, Chicken Rezala, Kosha Mangsho, Pulao, Sandesh and the list is endless.
Krishna Banerjee, my mother is a primary teacher by profession and a chef by passion!
The food she cooks, perfectly serves my mood. On harsh days I would tell Ma if she could feed me with her hands. I want to tell her that I love the dripping taste of care that is so rare. This taste is found no where but in her loving hands.
Once I asked her how do you cook so passionately, every single day?
She replied that passion is powerful, so powerful that passion suppresses aggression. I love cooking. I am passionate about what ever I do. I don't cook to get praised, I cook to experiment and to experience.
She said, “You know these ingredients, these spices, they all are important but nothing would taste good without salt. Salt is like passion, it doesn't matter how hard you try and work if you aren't passionate it's not going to make you feel good and how long would you manage eating food without salt?”
I smiled, realising how Ma possessed philosophical poetic skills.
She never subsided my curiosity, no matter what. My questions varied, sometimes they questioned mythology, sometimes they questioned science and sometimes they questioned the cartoons that I watched regularly on the television.
Why Hanuman looks different from Ram or any other human?
This was the first time my mother talked to me about human evolution. We sat with children's encyclopaedia for hours that day.
I didn't like eating spinach, like every other child, she developed my interest in "Popeye", and waited for my curious mind to ask why Popeye liked spinach so much when it doesn't taste so good!
Ma said because he wants to fight the evil, and for that he needs strength. Eating spinach makes one strong and from that very moment, I could never really say no to spinach! Ma believes that curiosity will keep teaching me throughout my life.
After these 21 years, I still feel like there's a lot that I don't know about her.
We both love Shahrukh on the screen and Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jayenge was one of those cliche films that we love to enjoy on the lazy Sunday afternoons on Set Max. Our bond is like Simran and her mother Lajwanti in the film. “Dekh jab ladki jawan hojati hai, ma uski ma nahi rehti saheli banjati hai.”
Ma has actually turned out to be my friend, philosopher, and guide.
She cultured my emotional quotient as much as my intelligence quotient. Ma didn't teach me how to be loving, caring or sharing, she practiced generosity herself. Since childhood, I have seen her celebrating her birthday at orphanages or old age homes!
Being her daughter, I had to follow her footsteps; I was seven when I asked maa that I too want to share the joy of caring with love on my birthdays. I was seventeen when I started Kala Pathshala, a school for the slum children.
The lady who taught me how to walk, agreed to accompany me on a trek in 2019.
Triund trek was the first trek of her life, both dad and I wanted ma to feel the wow feeling! My relatives didn't support this thought and ended up with a huge list of what ifs and I am proud, Ma could overcome the huge list and could complete the trek successfully!
While we sat with maggi at the Triund top, I asked Ma, “What's the biggest risk?”
Ma smiled and replied, “The biggest risk is not taking a risk.” That day Ma said I had two miscarriages before you were born, I had to take a risk to be a mother and today I am proud it was all worth it!
She is an untold story. She has to be my favourite living novel. I have completed my graduation and still, I don't know what combination of 26 letters can describe our bond and her love.
Happy Mother's Day!