Being Women

Home Is Where The Warmth Is!

It scares me that mothers can age too. Even if I find it hard to accept, she is slowing down and not as invincible as I’ve always perceived her to be.

Every year, we visit home (India) during the November-December months when the schools have closed for the holidays, and work slows down. The climate here in my native Kerala is cooler than my sunny Singapore. It’s been raining continuously, and the coconut trees are nodding their heads in the wet breeze. The dewy raindrops are dripping off the leaves of the banana tree in the front yard. The roads are full of muddy puddles that would excite Peppa Pig and all her little fans. The auto drivers? Not so much.

Years ago, somebody asked me what my favourite place is. They suggested options like Switzerland and South Africa. I replied without missing a beat. 


They asked me what was so special about the place. Simple. It’s where my Amma lives.

I’m almost forty, am a mother to a pre-teen daughter, myself and have stubborn grey hairs on my head that even hair colouring refuses to camouflage. I manage a home, have travelled a bit, have worked in a multinational company as a finance manager, and have tracked millions of dollars of brand financials.

However, deep down, I am still Amma’s little girl, depending on her for every little bit of advice, ranging from work to parenting to life’s decisions. Sometimes it’s just her listening to a problem even if I know what is to be done. Because all a girl needs is an assurance from her Mommy. 

How is it mothers have all the answers?

How to fix that curry, how to answer that annoying relative, and how to cure the child’s nagging ailments.

This time I notice with a sinking heart that Amma has grown more frail. She was sick several months ago, and the gradual recovery has taken a herculean effort. She doesn’t have the same energy as before, but it doesn’t stop her from making my coffee in the morning and bringing it to me. I feel pampered and guilty at the same time.

“Amma sit down, why don’t you let me serve you some tea?”

“When you go back, you will have enough on your plate. Enjoy your time here.”

And so, I enjoy being molly-coddled, ignoring the nagging feeling of guilt in my chest. 

It is ironic that there was a time when I refused to share photos of my child – Nazar Na Lage (May no evil eye befall my child, ever). The scales have tilted a bit recently. Now I don’t share photos of my Amma- Nazar Na Lage.

Somewhere, somehow, the roles are reversing, whether I like it or not. 

Amma has started asking me for advice, and it scares me that mothers can age too. Even if I find it hard to accept, she is slowing down and not as invincible as I’ve always perceived her to be. If there is anything that terrifies me, it is the fact that Amma is not always going to be around. 

I share with my daughter the memories of my childhood and the house I grew up in. My child isn’t listening. She is too busy complaining to her grandmother about how strict her mother is. It’s a déjà vu moment for me; a full circle moment.

There is a phase where you just want to ‘adult’ and be independent, only to receive a rude shock when life’s icy breeze hits you. When the cold of the world becomes a reality, you come crawling back to your mother, longing for the comfort of her lap to thaw the ice. 

The bond from mother to daughter is a strange one; a bit of love and hate, arguments and dependencies, and the eventual development of something so pure, so eternal, the mere thought of which warms you on the coldest of days, like a nice cup of freshly made hot chocolate.

I ask Amma to join me on the porch. I request her to come back with me to Singapore, so I can be at peace. She refuses. She loves her place and her independence. We both sit silently; the silence filling the spaces of many things that go unsaid.

The munchkin joins us to complete her tirade against her ‘mother-the-tyrant’, the usurper of all digital devices, and the dictator of her life. I glance wistfully at my daughter and look at Amma. 

“She will come around you know,” Amma says, reading my mind.

“She is stubborn, Ma.”

“She takes after you.”

Of course. Nanis and nepotism!

“You turned out fine. This is just a phase,” Amma chuckles, and pats me gently on my hand.

I smile, comforted. I’m home.

Home is a strange word. It has many associations and connotations. It’s warm and cosy in here; just like that, I’m not scared of the raging winds outside

Home is where the warmth is. Home is where Amma is.


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3 Responses

  1. Thoughts and well wishes to a healthy extended life span to your mom, I know Moms are the bulwark on which ships that sail the mighty ocean of life are built. Sail on my friend, sail on…

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