Ma Thoughts: My Mother, My Mussolini

Ma Thoughts: My Mother, My Mussolini Loading

Editor’s Note: Sangeetha Bhaskaran, one of our Top 5 in the #AtypicalWomanWrites contest, kick starts her series on mothers with this lovely piece, just in time for Mother’s Day on May 8th.

I remember my first boy friend. And by that I mean a friend who was a boy. We were both fourteen, rode the same school bus and were drawn to each other by our similar gawkiness; bespectacled, acne-covered, teenage bookworms that we were. After months of shy conversing, one day he softly asked me for my number. I returned his blush and then tore out a scrap of paper from my notebook and scribbled in it. As I handed it to him and our fingers grazed, my tummy lurched as if I was plummeting in the loop of a roller-coaster ride.

He didn’t call that day. Or the next. I hovered by the phone restlessly, the hours passing by slowly with my nagging mother’s reminders to finish my homework and help my sister do hers. Then suddenly one evening when I was busy trying to cram a chapter of Physics into my tiny, meandering brain; the phone rang. Like a marathon runner I sprinted and picked it up, trying my best to stifle the panting and manage a ‘Hello’. It was him. My knees turned to jelly and it took all my efforts to talk to him like a normal person without imploding with giddiness.

After that, we spoke everyday. I’d sit with my textbooks in the living room feigning one half of a deep scholastic discussion, while holding the phone close to my mouth and speaking in whispers. The calls were my favorite part of the day, when it was just the two of us talking about friends, teachers, books and other random magical occurrences. It was a blissful time for a girl like me. Little did I know that there was a storm brewing.

Then one day — KABOOOM! The tornado hit. The phone rang and my mother answered it, but instead of handing it over to me, she began to interrogate him.

 “Why are you calling everyday?? Your parents know you are calling a girl and talking for hours?? Please stop distracting Sangeetha or else I will have to speak to your mother.” She hung up the phone on a possibly traumatized fellow and turned to me.

I stood trembling with rage.

“Why did you do that Ma?? He’s just a friend. Now he will never call me again!!” I screamed at her.

Haughtily she retorted, “Good! This is not the age to sit and talk to boys for hours. Your board exams are coming up next year, you focus on your studies and worry about all this nonsense later in your life.”

I was humiliated and angry.  “I HATE YOU MA!!!!!!!” I screamed before storming off to my room and slamming the door.

With my head buried in a pillow, I wept uncontrollably for hours. It was the biggest tragedy; the first boy I ever liked was ousted from my life by this wicked woman. I saw a bleak future ahead of me with my Mussolini mother. No dating, no parties, no possibility of love.

I didn’t speak to her for weeks. For a while she let me be; then she attempted to thaw me by cooking my favorite dishes. Badam halwa, crispy vadas, schezwan noodles. With firm adamancy I refused to eat them, making it clear that her peace offerings were not accepted. She bustled about pretending like my silence didn’t bother her while I was filled with a secret glee of knowing the truth — she really was hurting.

I was twenty and in love. He was funny, kind and adored me; I didn’t stand a chance. But there was a worm eating my mind— my family would never accept this relationship. Coming from a traditional Tamilian family where culture and caste meant everything, there were slim to none chances of them agreeing to let me marry a Keralite. But I hung on, hoping for a miracle or the strength to elope if it came to that.

We were watching a silly Hindi movie on TV when my mother turned to me and abruptly asked, “Do you want to marry him?”

I felt a thunderbolt strike through me. I wondered how long she’d known despite all my efforts to be discreet.

Reading my mind, she scoffed, “You think I’m stupid and don’t see these things?”

Still shell-shocked I stared blankly at her, waiting for her tell me to end it and move on. This time, however, the story was different.

“You know your father will not accept, but that I can fix. More importantly, how is his family? Will they accept you?” Her face emanated something I saw for the first time, a willingness to help me fight for something I wanted.

We all knew how firm my father was in these matters, but here she was, talking to me about potentially starting a rumble in our clan by choosing to marry a man from a different community. In that instant, looking at her firm and poised face, I knew that everything would be okay and my love story would have a happy ending.

Three years later, surrounded by a sea of relatives from two states, I married the man I loved. My fiercely efficient mother took care of everything, right from telling my father about him, to planning the entire wedding to shutting down gossiping family members.

I can’t go back in time and swallow the cruel words I’d hurled at her those many years ago. I can’t go back and tear down the walls I’d built to keep her out. It’s always painful to recall  how terribly you treated someone whose every intention was designed around a singular motive— to get you to succeed.

Even worse is the fact that apologizing means nothing, for a mother has already forgotten before she even has the chance to forgive.




Sangeetha is a 31 year old mummy who lives in Dubai, but with a heart in Bangalore, and a mind that wanders everywhere else. After pursuing a career in Finance for almost a decade, she decided to walk away and do something whimsical - chase her dream of writing. She currently writes and manages a parenting blog called 'No Time To Moisturize' that describes her bumbling adventures as a mother. Her hobbies are singing, drinking wine, telling people what to do & reading lots and lots and lots of books whenever she finds the time. She loves to blame the universe for everything that goes wrong, laugh at her own jokes, and ponder over the meaning of life once she’s done updating herself with all the celebrity gossip online.

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