I secretly believe Radha plies my mother with all her favorite goodies because she hopes that that will stop her, my mother that is, from talking for a while at least. Poor Radha, I could have told her that she was bound to fail, but I did not have the heart to. My mother is an inveterate talker and I have been living with her all my life. The only times that I have seen her silent was when she went to sleep at night, that is if she was not talking in her sleep as well. I wouldn’t entirely put it past her to do that. After all I haven’t stayed up all night to check if it were so.
Radha, who by the way is my wife, is an optimist. She feels the mouth watering goodies she makes will silence my mother for the time necessary to chew it at least. But my mother who appreciatively gobbles it all up, nevertheless goes on talking even with her mouth full.
When it comes to her babble, she spares none. Her husband, children, the household help, the vegetable vendor, the postman, in fact anyone who came her way fell victim to her verbal diarrhea I know it is unkind on my part to say so, but then a fact is a fact, though I’d never say it to my mother’s face ever.
My own son who is just four is not so kind. Ammoomma, Bittu usually says in that exasperated cute tone of his when his grandmother wants to talk to him about what he had done in school, don’t disturb me! I am watching Chota Bhim! This pulls up my mother short for a few seconds. No one has ever spoken to her thus in her life. She was the darling in her own home, an only child born to parents very late in life. My grandparents cherished her I am told and when she married my father, an only son himself, his own parents doted on her. So she got away with her chattering everywhere. It is a different matter with Bittu. He loves Chota Bhim more than Grandma. It is another matter that once Chota Bhima is off the television screen, he is back in her lap.
Mother is a diabetic. Recently she got a sore on her foot which was not healing at all. She as usual was not listening to Radha or to me to go see the doctor. I know that mother is terrified of hospitals. But then this is no matter to be neglected. I told her that she simply had to go to the hospital, no two ways about it. Nothing wrong with my foot, my mother insisted. Like hell nothing was wrong when she is a diabetic too.
“Mom, don’t be childish. You have to come with me and Radha to the doctor. That wound has not healed in so many days! This is serious” My voice had risen a decibel in my frustration. I mean there is a limit to foolishness. I knew that stubborn look on my mother’s face. It meant I would fail in changing her mind. Throwing up my hands in irritation I looked imploringly at Radha.
“Maaji, remember what the doctor said the last time? If the wound does not heal, gangrene will set in and your foot may have to be amputated,” she said matter-of-factly.
Trust Radha to spell things out without beating around the bush. I know why I am in her debt always. She says things in a way I am too scared to put into words.
“Ammamma talks too much!” a voice piped in.
“This is not the time Bittu! Go and play with Didi,” I said sharply.
He was very fond of the neighbor’s daughter who took good care of him and was patient enough to read out to him from time to time. I wanted him to go and be with her while I sorted this out, with Radha’s help of course. I was in no mood to listen to Bittu’s ramblings, besides he was being rude to his Grandma. Sigh, I had not even reminded him of that yet.
“It is true!!!” he declared unfazed, “Ammamma always talks, that’s why it won’t heal!”
“What’s all this nonsense?” My irritation levels were rising now. Radha was also staring at Bittu puzzled as was my for once silent mother.
“Silence is a great healer. Didi told me so. It is there in her text book.” said my son.
Write Over the Weekend theme for this weekend: Weave a story around this proverb, “Silence is a great healer’.