When my children were little, every Christmas and their birthday, I used to pay and get my friends to send my children gifts purportedly from their grandmother ( my mother). I couldn’t change my mother and get a new one and I couldn’t bear to see the envy my children had whenever their friends showed them the gifts they got from their grandparents. How do I answer the question, “Mama, how come our grandmother never sends us a card/gift?” I wanted to be honest and tell them that unfortunately, they got the worst grandmother on planet earth. I just couldn’t tell them that, though that was nothing but the truth. So even though my sister younger to me called me a bitch in front of my children, I lied and convinced my kids that No, she didn’t say bitch, she said Witch. I played this one sided drama hoping I could protect my children from harm inflicted by the members of my own family. To this day, I have never spoken evil about my family members in front of my children. I didn’t want my kids to judge them through my eyes. I may not get along with my mother and sisters, but that shouldn’t be a hindrance to my children having a relationship with my family.
My mother played this wonderful game called “always remember, you only have each other, your father’s side, everyone is like a ? palakkuru. ( I have never seen a palakkuru, apparently the seeds face opposite to each other, in other words no togetherness) Amma herself will instigate a fight, like the time I came back from Dubai after meeting my father. I had internal exam that day, so I didn’t have time to open my bag and give Amma the loot I got for my older sister. I told Amma very clearly that I will come back in the evening after my exams and give the stuff. Amma phoned my sister while I was away and together, they both went through my bag and took whatever caught their fancy, including stuff I bought for myself. I was just so mad when I came back to find that my sister took everything that I got and my mother showed such a sad face and told me ” Pottey, saram illa, ninety chechy alley aval, ningalkku ningal mathremey ullu, ariyamallo, appanttey veettu kar palakkuru mathiri anenennu.. ( never mind, your sister taking all your stuff isn’t a big deal, after all she is your sister and you should never forget, how your father’s family don’t get along ) You need to be in my place at that moment to understand the unfairness of it all and how much I wanted to kill my mother for the way she did things. Was I not her child? Did I not tell her that I will come back and give chechy her stuff? The worst part is, my sister never ever had any relationship with us at that time and even then I didn’t forget that she is still my sister and even bought her a thermos lunch box, so she could take hot lunch to work.
Although I know for sure that my children only have me and each other in this world, I was determined not to play the same game Amma played. After Amma hid in the room on Yaya’s birthday and the way she was treating me, my children understood what my mother actually is capable of and I stopped sending gifts to them on my mother’s behalf. But, I still didn’t say a single bad word about my mother to them.
The past few weeks have been hectic here with the kids having their third term assignments and exams. General academic award is already decided ( you need 5 individual A’s for Yaya and 8 A’s for my son), but not the individual medal for the subjects. Three of Yaya’s classmates are fighting for the same medal and Yaya is one point ahead. Obviously she has to do the exams and assignments well and is under a lot of pressure. Last Friday, Yaya was very tired and crabby and was laying down on the couch to watch TV. My son came home with a bad flu and has 4 assignments to complete in the weekend. He too was very crabby. They decided to solve their crabbiness by having a territorial war. How much space on the couch each is entitled was the issue. ( there are other places to sit in the living room.. an Ikea poang chair with foot stool, a day bed and a papasan swivel chair) Eventually it led to violence. I am very particular about physical fights. I don’t mind them arguing as much as they want to, but if I haven’t hit them even when they drove me nuts, then they shouldn’t be hitting/pinching/scratching each other. besides, only a fool will go and fight with a brother who is big and strong. My son pushed Yaya off the couch..and she scratched him. Both got 30 minutes corner time and no TV for the rest of the evening. But that wasn’t what bothered me. As Yaya went to sit in the corner, she said ” I hate my brother”
“Hate is such a big word Yaya” I replied.
“Like you could talk Mom, you hate your own family” she said.
What I wanted to do was to shake her so hard and tell her ‘you have no idea the years of abuse I have endured in my family for me to hate them, you only hate your brother because he is stronger than you and you are bitter because you lost the fight and ended up on the floor. Clearly, you are older and wiser and should have known he is stronger than you. All you had to do was to share the space on the couch, instead you claimed the couch is yours because you were the first to sit on it’
I am the adult here and I knew if I was going to get involved in this fight, it was only going to get worst. “what you said was uncalled for Yaya”. She wanted to continue with the argument, but I walked away.
Later that night, I shed bitter tears. I wished I was an orphan, at least I wouldn’t have had such a lousy family. In the morning, there was a card and apology letter on my dressing table from both of them. But the thing is, what Yaya said is true..but I just wish, it wasn’t so.