We have always been taught that happiness increases manifold if you share it with others. When I look back now, all the clichéd teachings of our mothers came true in the way of birthday parties, get-togethers, sharing a bottle of beer and a plate of those melt-in-your-mouth kebabs. In due course of time, we also realised that travelling with someone does give you a different kind happiness. In all our realisations and the manifold happiness that we lap up, most of us tend to forget the person who, in the first place, taught us to create a wealth of happiness all through our lives – mothers. Almost all our happy pictures of travelling with friends, colleagues, girlfriends, boyfriends and sometimes strangers find their way to the social media but 'mother' misses out on almost all of these. I am not saying we don't love them, but she somehow doesn't feature in our itineraries and think about it, we all have reasons that probably can be rebutted by a school kid.
I have travelled with my mother, but it has always been in the company of someone – close friends, relatives and even my father. Well my father doesn't complain and goes by wherever you take him and whatever you feed him. All in all, a no-frills guy. Since he is extra-sweet, my mother takes immense care of his likings and so she is always preoccupied with these thoughts. We do have fun nonetheless. However, I had always wanted to see my mother without the worries in the world and just be herself in the place she travels too. It took a long time coming, but I finally took her on a trip alone.
This blog entry is about her – what I noticed about her, her ways, about her intricate joys, concerns, sadness and wishes. What I will describe here is my mother and may be you'll find some traits that match yours.
Before delving into the trip let me just give you a brief history of my mother so that you can have a faint understanding of what kind of a person she is. Rich, poor, healthy, weak, literate, illiterate, all mothers have made sacrifices. Born to a set of illiterate parents, my grandmother made sure that my mother at least had basic education. Charity, which she picked up from her mother, came naturally to her. From money to undergarments, she would steal all from her house to gift them to her poorer classmates. She fell in love with my dad and married before completing her graduation, against the wishes of the families. She wanted her kids to study in English-medium schools and sent her son to live at a hostel at the age of 2.5 years. I can only fathom the amount of pain she must have gone through for this. After 2-3 years she shifted to the nearby town so that we could live together. Taught us and taught us hard – about values, about the importance of education, about love and about compassion. When most of my neighbours kept their children from playing with the underprivileged kids or the ones who smoked or drank, my mother would let us.
She told us that no one can force anything against our will and there is goodness even in the worst of people. She never forced us into religion, nor put restrictions on our choice of food or drinks. In a country which has polarised views on the food on your plate, the religion of your lover and someone's right to speech, my mother had already passed the 'coolest' level in giving us complete freedom of choice. As we grew up, she began to understand our ways and started closing the 'generation gap'. I rarely lie to her, I feel no need to because she makes an effort to understand. She listens closely, she is as good a student as she was a teacher.
It's 3 am and she is all ready. I laze around a bit, take a short bath and throw everything into the car. A little stool is placed on the floor in front of the front passenger seat as she finds it difficult to hang her feet and my Thar has high seats. It's 4 am now and off we drive towards Chandigarh. Drove non-stop on clear roads and reached Chandigarh in 2.5 hours flat. A break here and in another 7.5 hours we would reach Jibhi.
Two things I noted during this drive. One, my car is not a comfortable one. It's a proper off-roading 4X4 with stiff suspensions. My mother didn't complain, nor did she make a fuss about regular breaks. She was too busy enjoying the view and excited to reach Jibhi. Second, she doesn't freak out. The road near Sundernagar was under construction and there was a long line of cars. A local offered us to follow him through village roads. We were 5 cars and by the end of it only 3 completed the journey to the other side. The road was narrow and our cars were precariously positioned on the edge. She didn't break a sweat.
With the river on our side, my mother couldn't care less about the music. She turned it off, rolled down the windows and just put her hand out. She never asked how long till we reach. Got a room in a guest house on the first floor. It could only be reached by climbing 5-6 steps of a 60 degree wooden stairset. She didn't complain, not even with her knee problem. She was too happy to live in a house built of wood and stone. We enjoyed the afternoon in the little garden area of the guest house where things are allowed to grow and bloom. She kept on describing the beauty of the mountains, the pine trees and the brewing hot tea. She sat silently for a long time. I let her be, I could see who I took up my love for solitude from. For I was, the reflection of my mother.