Back in my school days, I had somehow developed a habit of comparing my mom with my English teacher. I was completely fascinated by her oration, her interpretation of the Wordsworths and the Tennysons, her authority, personality and everything that I could notice about her. Deep down in my childish self rose the question, “Why isn’t my mom like her?” I would want her to speak English with the same proficiency as would my English teacher; I would want her to speak to my friends with the same effect as did the English teacher in class. But nothing ever happened the way I wanted them to be and this habit, instead of fading into irrelevance with the passage of time became an obsession. I found myself comparing her with the new lecturer of my college. So one semester, I returned home and found myself asking my mom, “If they are so knowledgeable, if they are so good in English why aren’t you?” To this, my mom did not answer, but gave me just a smile before she turned back to the kitchen. I felt humiliated for asking such an annoying question to my mother. However, the semester vacation went by and I returned to college, forgetting all about the incident.
I completed my graduation and went on to pursue my masters. There too, I came across a professor who happened to be of the same age as my mom and highly impressive. In her class, when I observed her more closely, I wished only if my mother could have been more like her. By then, this wish had started bothering me so much that I grew increasingly uneasy of my mother’s identity.
Soon, I completed my masters and took up a job. The years kept passing by until recently came a social occasion, where I happened to meet my old English teacher. Though she did not recognize me, but once introduced she greeted me with the long known warmth and we spoke at length. During that discussion she told me that her son, with who I was acquainted with, was in Harvard pursuing his masters. I was incredibly impressed with this news and mused on it the entire evening.
It was raining that night and I was caught in traffic. When I reached home, it was quite late and I found my mom still waiting for me. Though, mellowed by age and health she brought me my towel, my night cloths and then did my bed before retiring back to her room. I returned to my room and switched off the lights still retrospecting on the evening. In the dark rose a question in my mind, “If he could make it to Harvard why couldn’t I?” An uneasy lull descended in my mind, which was first broken by reasons gushing out of the hitherto naive soul in protests and then by a realization that, though I was not in Harvard, I was not unsuccessful either by my standards. Last, came the epiphany, “It was never important for my mother to be as knowledgeable or fluent in English as my English teacher, as long as she loved me and brought me up well, and just like me, she hasn’t been unsuccessful either in her own right.”
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