I am very conscious that I probably do not tell you this enough, but you mean a lot to me.
Growing up, you were my best friend up until I became old enough to make some friends of my own. Yes, there were others, but you single-handedly get the credit for being there for every one of my triumphs, sorrows and rants. Probably because you were always around. Almost everything I know today, I do because of you.
I remember the times that I used to run to you in school, trying to distract you from your work. Irrespective of how busy you were, you'd always find the time to hear me out and offer me a solution. I remember all the fun times, we've spent together doing homework, making charts for art class, designing towers for science projects, gossiping about movies and books and just talking about absolutely randomness. Even today, when I sometimes read to Rishi, I remember all those stories you used to tell me and all the night-time books we've read together. You taught me that the world wouldn't be an easy place, and that it wasn't always going to be a care-free ride.
Of course, we used to fight. In fact, some of them were down right vicious. But we always made up by the end of the day.
And then came the first separation.
I still remember those tears-filled eyes of yours when I let go of your hand and walked through those giant gates of the boarding school. I know it was difficult for you. I know how much it would have hurt you to see your only one move away from you. Yes, you remained strong. You gave me the strength to move on. You gave me the freedom to be independent. Though we hardly saw each other in the year that followed, you made the efforts to keep in touch with me. Even when I got caught up in that vicious circle of studies, sports, new friends and my new-found freedom. And when I returned after a year-long exile, a changed angry teenage, indifferent to everything and emotionless on surface, you still looked after me. You showered me with unconditional love and supported me.
Though I pretended not to see it then, or even understand it, I do now. And then came the day, when I left your home for good. I had grown up - gone from being the darling apple of your eye to a young ambitious man, wanting to explore the world, to break free from all shackles and emotions, and live life on my accord. I now know, how difficult it was for you to let me go again. Yet, you continued to be strong. You fought against your own emotions, not wanting to stand in the way of me chasing my dreams. And when I eventually brought you the girl of my dreams, you accepted her with open arms, even knowing well, that you would no longer be the only woman who I truly loved.
Amma, I know we have had our differences, and I know we will probably continue to do so for the rest of our lives. I know some of our arguments and fights have the potential to be etched in history as fierce battles that shook the very core of our relationship. Though I feign ignorance and irritation, the reality is that I truly understand your concerns and worries. I also know that you will always find something to worry about, even if everything is well - You’re a mother after all, and worry is sort of second nature to you.
But today I want you to know this - When it comes to expressing emotions, I am terrible.(Just ask my wife:))
But remember: you are my first pillar of strength and my unflinching support system; you've taught me how to love unconditionally; you’ve taught me how to respect both men and women and value relationships; you’ve taught me how to be a better person!
I love you Amma - Happy Birthday!
Though this is a personal note for my mother on her birthday, I've opted to share it with all you lovely people for one simple reason. No matter how many arguments and fights we have with our parents, they almost always continue to love us unconditionally and hope nothing but the best for them. Often, we never realise the true impact of their love, till later in life.
For me, it took 'being a parent' to make me realise how indispensable my parents are for me. I may be termed as callous for what I'm about to say - but the truth remains, as much as I loved and respected my parents, until I became a father, I never knew what it felt to have your heart outside your body. Now, I do.
[Yes, a bit of cheesiness is warranted for. It's my amma's birthday, after all!]
PS: In spite of all this very public display of affection, if you ask my mother, she'll probably still say I'm a Daddy's Boy! Mothers, I tell you!