Just recently, I overheard my mother while she was in a conversation with one of her friends as they tried operating the laptop to view some pictures. Not aware that I had entered the house, I let them both make attempts in oblivion as I braced myself to watch my teaching endeavours drown in ineffectuality. Though there had not been many, me and mom had sat through sessions where I tried to ensure that she got hold of all the basics of working on a system. There was no better way to judge my capabilities and measure my efficacy than to inconspicuously observe my pupil.
“I remember. There was this button somewhere that you pressed for the slideshow.” said my baffled mother.
“Well, keep looking. You’ll find something.” Her friend tried to be of help.
“I don’t understand this, oh God!” mom exclaimed. “I should just listen to my husband and take computer classes.”
It was no new fact that my father had been asking my mom to join a professional tutorial if her inability to learn how to function the laptop bothered her so much. It wasn’t any newer that my mother delayed it ceaselessly, if not completely rejecting the suggestion. For some odd reason however, her words stayed with me for longer this time. What was so tough about joining a class when you have all the resources and freedom to? And what was so tough about doing something for your own self, even as a mother? I say so because decisions taken in self interest and acting upon their own needs is not exactly a mother’s forte. But my mind didn’t stop and I didn’t stop it when the question sprouted about where it all comes from.
Being a history student and being audience to endless stories of older generations, I am not unfamiliar with the kind of society and mentality that we have taken birth from. I am completely conscious of our roots and their tangles that women have fought hard to solve out of. I am well aware of a perspective that placed women so down in the hierarchy of thoughts and concerns that women themselves forgot to treat themselves as beings living for themselves. I am extremely sensitive to the sad environment and upbringing of women that taught them at every step of the way that they were but a burden to someone or the other and it was their duty, their obligation to be grateful to all those people. So how can all those years of being treated like a doormat be so easily eroded when suddenly you are given the reigns to your own crossing? How can you, in a jiffy, convince yourself that you are in fact, at par with the others and have every right on the face of earth to unfurl your potential? How can you stand up to the world and walk with your head held high when you have never even known that you are not prohibited to unveil your face anymore? How can you, out of nowhere, fill that heart and mind with confidence and faith and trust when you were never even taught to speak up, let alone listen to your voices?
It is hard for me to imagine such a time and such hostile surroundings since I was brought up in a world of self belief and certainty. But when I listen to the existence of a barren land, I actually visualise a lifetime of drought and starvation. It does not take an Einstein to take it from there and join the dots and figure out how and why the inhabitants fail to consume the food even when they are served a silver platter. If only it were that simple.
My issue is not the fact that my mother does not know how to operate the laptop. My mind will not just settle down if she learns how to. In fact, even if she takes up the classes, I will be subjugated to the horrors of ignorance and oblivion originating from unanswered questions. My issue is the fact that never once while in the pit of difficulty and incompetence, did my mother give it a thought that she should do something about this instead of secretly asking her daughter for a favour. My distress is triggered by the fact that she was so well settled in the reality of her insufficiencies that it never crossed her mind to do something about it and believe herself to be and to do better. My disgust takes form when I think about the deep mark and mould that past and age-old ideologies have left on the minds of these women that they have forgotten to hope for themselves and have assumed a selfless living pulled by the interests of anyone but themselves. My mind is ridiculed by the complexities of such a life which is so bounding that freedom is not even known to exist.
So as I thought about my mother’s situation and replayed all those times when my father has done nothing but encouraged her to take her life seriously, I gained a closer understanding to her inhibitions. But with every fog that I kept wiping off, the bad weather started to grow on me and I felt nothing but pure malice, realising that none of it can be steered right without uprooting such mentalities and pre-conceived notions. What we need is a fresh start and there is no better time than now to start with it.