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Slipping through my fingers

By Nickunj Malik - Sep 19,2018 - Last updated at Sep 19,2018

“Mothers of daughters are daughters of mothers and have remained so, in circles joined to circles, since time began,” said Signe Hammer, an American writer, editor and professor. How true this observation is and one has to have mothered a daughter oneself to understand how precious the bond remains, even to this day. 

My mother had four brothers and I have two, but neither of us had any sisters. I do not recall exactly how my birth was celebrated; however, our daughter’s arrival was welcomed with open arms. When I held her for the first time I experienced a sudden surge of love and an ache in my heart, which was so fierce that I knew I would never recover from it, in this lifetime at least. 

I had a privileged childhood; even so there were times when my elderly relatives favoured my brothers over me. Where serving the best roast chicken pieces or the sweetest dessert was concerned, that is. It was not their fault actually, in a patriarchal society it was simply assumed that sons needed to be fed better than daughters. Nonetheless, these blunders were corrected as soon as I pointed them out, but the fact that I had to point them out, left me bruised.

I promised myself that our daughter would never have to go through this. I would make sure of it. I was going to nurture her to be a good human being who was well mannered, kind, confident and generous. Since she had arrived two weeks before her due date, the earliest flight my husband could take to reach us at my mother’s house was three days later. Therefore, for that span of time, when I had her totally to myself, more qualities were optimistically added to the list.

I raised her by the book, literally and figuratively. The book, in this case, was “Dr Spock’s Baby and Child Care for the Nineties” (5th edition) by Benjamin Spock and Michael Rothenberg. It was, and still is, the most authoritative guide for young parents. He updated his manual that was earlier published in 1946 to include the latest approaches and techniques of breast-feeding, treatments for many common health problems, recent scientific discoveries, and provided reassuring advice on age-old topics such as caring for a new baby as well as accidents, illness and injuries. In other words, for a nuclear family that comprised of one set of clueless parents and a helpless infant, this book was a gift from God.

Initially she refused to walk without holding my finger but one fine year I found that she had become taller than me. I introduced her to reading and writing though today she has read and written for more international journals than I have. 

This week she turned thirty and like all mothers, I wondered at how quickly her childhood had flown by. Missing her, I started playing the Meryl Streep movie “Mamma Mia” on DVD. Soon my favourite number, “slipping through my fingers” came on. “Schoolbag in hand, she leaves home in the early morning, waving goodbye with an absentminded smile,” sang the mum to her little girl. I began to cry softly. 

“What you doing?” our daughter messaged me. 

“Watching Mamma Mia,” I typed back. 

“You crying over that song again?” she asked. 

I did not reply. 

“Hello Ma,” she called me immediately. 

“Slipping through my fingers,” she sang tunelessly.

“Happy birthday,” I said, smiling through my tears.

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Comments

Beautiful to behold slice of life, the better half of the fruit, the love between mother and daughter.

Sigmund Freud notwithstanding, I too believe that this relation is a unique one, connecting hearts and minds between generations.A handing-taking over of "motherness", for want of a better existing word. As the mother ages, the daughter takes on the mantle and motherness remains eternal. Probably that is the reason this single human relation reigns supreme.

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