Sushma was very happy when she got a ‘merit seat’ in the medical college. “My mother is thrilled”, she said. “She has always dreamt of my becoming a doctor and now I can fulfill her wish”. “What about you” I asked, “don’t you want to become a doctor?” “I do, but it’s all thanks to mummy”.
So mummy has been the motivating force behind a future doctor. “How come you want your daughter to become a doctor?” I asked Sushma’s mother. “See, I’m an uneducated woman. I don’t want my daughters to become like me.”
It is indeed heartening to see women like Sushma’s mother who would like to get their daughters away from the rut they themselves have fallen into. They see in their girls a future full of promise, denied to them. They devote all their time to helping the children with the homework, sitting up with them when they study late into the night. In short their whole life revolves around that of their children.
There was a time when I pitied such women. I felt that they were parasites, leaning on the glory of their children. But I have been re-thinking over this issue and find that such women are as great achievers as those who concentrate on their own careers.
This brings me to the point of a mother’s role in the mental growth of a daughter. We have the typical Hindi film mother who is a ‘tawaif’ and wants her daughter to continue the family occupation, despite the daughter’s distaste for it. She bullies and pushes her helpless daughter, thus becoming her prime enemy. Unless the girl has the will power and the sense to step out of it, she is doomed to an existence she hates. One hopes such cases are more fiction than truth.
Then comes the very ambitious mother who becomes something of a puppeteer manipulating her daughter’s life to an extent that the latter loses her individuality. Very good-looking girls tend to have such unfortunate experiences as the mother looks upon them as the golden goose to be strutted around, either as a model or a film star. Deep within, perhaps the girl would rather have become a teacher or a nurse.
“What was good for my mother and me, should be fine with you”, is the philosophy of some mothers. They like to see the circle of events pass the same path. No moving with changing times for them. They are the ones who are responsible for the continuance of social evils like dowry.
But hats off to mothers like Sushma. They are the architects of a beautiful future with smiling faces of satisfied women. We’ll probably have to change the well-worn cliché and say, “Behind every successful woman, is an encouraging mother!”