Friday, February 22, 2013

Maanvan te Dhiian

My mother and I have long conversations over the telephone every day, perhaps, an hour or so. Yesterday, we got talking about the Punjabi poet, Avtar Singh Pash. The conversation then meandered through the poetry of Surjit Patar and Shiv Batalvi, Sahir Ludhianvi and Amrita Pritam, the lives of Gurbaksh Singh Preetladi and his son, Navtej Singh and all the while I wondered why I had never found the time or inclination to have a real conversation with my mother in my growing up years. Her knowledge astounds me, as does her incredible anecdotal memory. She told me of the day Shiv Batalvi mistakenly rang our doorbell, looking to visit my mother's namesake who was also a Lecturer and Batalvi's fan. She told me of the amazing power and passion in Batalvi's voice when he recited his poetry, his rise to fame, his alcoholism and neglect of his wife, the pall that descended over Amritsar when he died. 

We spoke of Amrita Pritam, her fierce independence, the devotion of Imroz, who nurtured and cared for her through sickness and old age and how devastated Imroz's family was by his choices.

We spoke of Preet Nagar, the vision of Gurbaksh Singh Preetladi, and the tragic death of his son. That's a name I remember, I told her. Yes, your grandfather used to subscribe to the magazine Preetladi, she told me, and that she'd herself read the poetry section while she waited in the Reading Room of the public library from where my father used to bring me the books I needed while I prepared for the civil services examination. I googled and found a blog by that name, e mailed the Editor, and have sent in an annual subscription for Preetladi. Today I discovered that its Editor at one time was Sahir Ludhianvi!

What an abiding love for poetry my mother must have had, and I was ignorant of it in all my growing up years, pre ocupied as I was with my own dreams and fears! There was also the fact that my father was my hero , while my mother had the role of the disciplinarian parent who kept us on the straight and narrow path.  Then I got busy raising my own children, and it is only now that I make a new discovery every now and then about my mother's life as an intelligent, well informed, creative person.  I find that I am more like her than I had ever imagined. I understand also her anxiety and repeated reminders to me that I should not lose my own identity no matter how much I love my family.

This year, it is my resolve to have a mother-daughter vacation. We"ll go to Kerala, which is a place she wishes to travel to, a discovery I made only recently, having spent decades imagining that she'd rather stay home than explore the world. Wish me the best, that I may not get distracted by own responsibilities as a mother to lose an opportunity to get closer to the person that is my mother!

1 comment:

  1. What a wonderful post about rediscovery..of getting connected. Your best , as far as my heartfelt reaction goes - to all of your blogposts i have read so far. Best wishes to both of you and i beleive your Kerala travel intention will come true when you believe in it and imagine it happening with all your heart, and not let circumstances decide for you. Cheers and bon voyage. And deepest regards to your mother. She must be so proud of you, just as you are of her.