75 years ago, my mother got married. She got a stone studded ring as a wedding gift from dad. Both the families were well-reputed and reasonably placed economically at that time. But luck has its own agenda and things changed. My parents wanted me to study but ran short of funds. Around 1963, they pledged the ring, for a loan of Rs. 450 against it, at a rate of 3% monthly interest cumulative. That’s how I could complete my education. I wasn’t aware of this loan. I accidentally found the pawnbroker’s note a couple of years later.
I completed my education in 1968 and got a job at a handsome salary of Rs.720 per month. Over a period of 5-6 years, the loan with compounded interest accrued to Rs.2,200. A new ring like that one could then be purchased for about Rs.1,100. My parents must’ve even forgotten the matter by this time. Anyway, financially it did not make sense to release the ring from the clutches of the moneylender. However, from my accrued initial savings, I got the ring released, as it was invaluable for mom. When I surprised mom with the ring, she could not believe it, tears rolled down and she sobbed for quite a while, probably for the unexpected surprise of getting back an invaluable item of sentimental value.
I lost my mother on Akshaya Trithiya, 24 April 2012, exactly two years ago. When her ornaments were distributed to her children, I preferred to retain just that stone studded ring my dad had given to mom at their wedding.
I was holding that ring today. The Ring started speaking. What the Ring said could hold true for anyone.
“Parents try their best to bring their children up, within affordable means and facilities available to them. They disciplined, gave pleasure, taught culture according to what they thought was best for you, from their point of view. It was all selfless and nothing was expected in return.”
The Ring continued to speak: “Forget not, you are holding your present status mainly due to the support of your parents, for which they pledged their wedding ring and even mangalsutra. They preferred to remain hungry to ensure that you are fed.
To value the care they had taken, wasn’t it your duty to have spent some more time with them to share and talk about things of their interest? Did you not deprive them of the respect and facilities they deserved, forgetting that they sacrificed all their life for your development?”
The ring was true. I lost my father early in my life. While my mother was alive, every day, I thought I would shortly be free; retire from my business and spend some time with her.
Occasionally, I probably considered that spending time with parents was unproductive, boring, waste of time and even disgusting. Sometimes, I probably thought the parents were rigid and argued on matters irrelevant to the present environment. Why did I get these types of feelings about the people, who spent their whole life to bring me up, educate me and support me in building my career?
They were the ones who were next to me whenever I was ill; they were the ones who sacrificed their desires, just to ensure that my desires get fulfilled.
I probably failed to understand that as my parents were advancing in age, their level of energy and enthusiasm would reduce and they might not catch up with new lifestyle. I probably failed to give credit that they were more mature, better experienced and have higher understanding, without which they could not have guided me all through my life. I probably failed to appreciate that they had right to feel proud for whatever they have gone through to shoulder the family responsibilities so far. Silly, that I confused that as their ego. I probably had forgotten that they had already proven themselves while I still had to prove myself.
What a wrong notion I carried that I am extra smart. In fact, my parents sacrificed everything for me and still they honoured and appreciated me for whatever little I did. Alas, when my turn came to serve and honour them, I missed the golden opportunity to avail the win-win situation. Had I done that I would have lost nothing. I repent today.
Oh, my dear Mother’s Ring. Thank you for speaking out. Let me see whether I can at least express gratefulness to the living elders “for whatever they have done” and show them that “I care for you and your feelings”.
Author: Badri Baldawa
Editor: Meeta Kabra