Memories, Mothers and Daughters: Why I Didn’t Tell My Daughter About Delicious Besan Ladoos My Mother Made
- Her mother did not make those. Yes, that's true but “her” mother has been a warrior ever since she left her father's home.
Mother’s Day is upon us. I dream of a rustic village in Punjab with blooming yellow mustard fields. Ripe sugar canes, young lads in colorful smart turbans, and collared long shirts surveying the harvest. Girls skipping rope or swinging on long swings in mango and guava orchards. Old farmers and oxen resting under shady neem trees enjoying a well-deserved rest. A glass of chilled frothy buttermilk and a dollop of fresh butter melting on cornbread.
Mothers slow cooking dark green nourishing mustard greens bursting with the sweet fragrance of this fertile land nourished by the five rivers or “Punj-Ab”, that’s the Punjab of my ancestors, that’s the Punjab of my memories, that’s the Punjab of loving togetherness. That’s the life I want to reconstruct for my children and grandchildren. That’s the caring spirit I want to share with my friends.
I am fortunate indeed, and as my daughter reminded me today, more fortunate than her because I have been loved by more people. Both mother and father, aunts, uncles and cousins in generous proportions. She broods that her childhood was not like mine. The entire family is not always a participant in her illness or wellness.
I see that she still feels a void despite my endless toiling, day and night and hours in between filling her heart and lap with the essence of my very existence. I cannot make up for the extended family’s absence. I feel bad but I can only pray that she can see that there are so many people who don’t have the love she has.
She has the security of a good education, the comfort of a safe home, bills always paid, food always on the table, and means to go anywhere, to pursue any dream. Not many people have that.
I did not have all the luxuries growing up. Our family income was limited. We had everything we could ever want but with a lot of planning and resourcefulness on the part of my mother. I saw parents making a budget and not wasting a single paisa.
Today after a lot of personal, emotional, and physical struggle, I have come to that place where I know that we can afford a few luxuries of life and I indulge the children like my parents did because my mother always said “What good is the money sitting in banks when the children are growing up deprived of simple wants in front of our eyes?”
My childhood was not always quite as rosy as I paint it. We had to move quite a bit because of my father’s transferable job, and I spent every year in a new city, making new friends. But hindsight is 20/20 and being compressed by present-day challenges, those simple childhood vignettes give me solace and I draw upon them to garner strength to deal with coming tsunamis.
I want to write about a few homemade snacks my mom used to keep in our larder. It was stacked with delicious goodies so that I would have something to munch on as I made my way through the dense school curriculum. But I hesitate. I am afraid that if I recall how deliciously perfect her roasted besan ladoos were with a rare cardamom seed and a chopped almond dissolving on my tongue, my daughter will feel deprived.
Her mother did not make those. Yes, that’s true but “her” mother has been a warrior ever since she left her father’s home and there never has been another provider who would give “her” mother a hand or relieve her of her fighting gear so that she could wield more feminine cooking utensils and make her some ladoos.
Maybe… one day, a bugle of love and peace will resonate around “me” and it will be my daughter’s time to sit back on the armchair of my childhood. Perhaps, her mother will morph into another domesticated avatar and offer both her daughter and granddaughter cups of warm ginger tea with delicious besan ladoos. That would be lovely indeed. I think it will happen very soon.
With one foot in Huntsville, Alabama, the other in her birth home India and a heart steeped in humanity, writing is a contemplative practice for Monita Soni. She has published many poems, movie reviews, book critiques, essays, and two books, My Light Reflections and Flow through My Heart. You can hear her commentaries on Sundial Writers Corner WLRH 89.3FM.