By Wajiha Imtiaz
Fri, 12, 16

Having mothered my daughter for 25 years still makes me see her as a toddler I would fondle through tantrum any day.

Having mothered my daughter for 25 years still makes me see her as a toddler I would fondle through tantrum any day. If I say this to her, she would refute with evidence. She identifies me as an accomplice to the temporal grind mill that resists flow of her tide. Translation: “She doesn’t count me as her bff”. To her, I am the disaster that blows her house of cards, always. If she says this to my face, I would not refute. I try my best not to spare her a dose of cynicism in everyday’s work - even when she’s doing the dishes. To her, it’s my way of checking on her applying the right side of the sponge to my lovely ceramics, which I hold way dearer than my daughter.HEART TO HEART

To reinforce this perception of hers, I give her more sauce over the tardy complaints. The bottom line is I make sure she doesn’t get an easy way with things. Firstly, I complicate tasks for her and, when somehow she gets through them, I hold back showering praises in lovey-dovey accents. (In case you have been wondering, yes, I am her birth mother, very biologically!) So, the backlash comes in petty dramas of hers. Like she puts up profile pictures with her father; childishly deems him her partner in crime and often doesn’t return my calls. I do not mind; instead, I notch up the game. I do not let her shop in peace, making sure I nag over anything she settles for. Talking of the recent shopping spree, I made buying her shadi jora, stilettos and hair dye palette a controversial stake. I even disapproved of the pumice stones she bought in bath basket of her choice. With bags of goodies and a lump in throat, she returned home exasperated. I am a mother, that is my job.

Time has flown. It’s been half a year now since my daughter’s marriage.  Contrary to the old times, she has a lot to tell me every time we meet up now.  And likewise, I ache to smother each crumpling detail that may jolt her smooth sail. But every single time she holds back. She doesn’t say out loud how relatable is the burden of invisible susrali expectations to the ex-version of my ‘motherliness’. Or, how often, despite trying utmost, she is just not good enough. Particularly for the woman who chose her as best fit for the ‘daughter in law’ shell hole. The S-woman (saas). But, I know. I know exactly what it takes to perfect the façade of ‘Banarasi sari clad favourite bahu’. This is what I had been preparing her for all her life. Accustoming her to receive with grace the spanners thrown in her direction.

Trying not to sound sexist in my approach, life does that to every single individual. But, our tradition and society demands a lot from girls. Once married off, it is incumbent for a daughter to be a lady. A tiresome and heartbreakingly thankless job that requires annihilating herself for the family appeasement and demands her sleep, sweat and peace.

She has a beautiful family life. How possibly could she have struck a balance in all components if I had fed her ego with excessive want and self-centeredness?

When she visits me, I hug her tight; she clings to me as her five-year-old stature once used to. I have never been her best crime buddy, but these days it is something far significant than that.  It’s the gratitude welling in her eyes as she acknowledges my mentorship in the art of life.

The only thing left unsaid is ‘how much I miss picking up her ponies and scattered hair accessories as I clean up at home’.