She holds her purse string very close. Of the 32 years that I have known her, I have never seen her indulge in a big buy. She says, “I don’t earn you see. It is my husband’s money that I spend. I must therefore spend it wisely.”
And with that one thought, she has lived her life as a ‘housewife’. As a mother, she has allowed her children a few guilty extravagances. Guilt, mind you is hers. “No, it’s too expensive. We need to ask Baba before buying it,” she would say. The children would pull long faces and she would submit. Her husband, the father, would never bother about spending on his family. Money was never an issue. At least as long as it was for the sake of a good time and the happiness of the children. As long as I have known him, I have never seen him clip her wings. I have never seen him tell her, “Why do you spend so much?” There’s never been a useless buy in their household. The one time their daughter fretted for a particular dress, an expensive one, only to never wear it again has not gone down well with the mother. She still tells her, “Remember that dress you made me buy? You never wore it more than once! What a useless spend…and all because of you! And didn’t you do the same with that cycle you made Baba buy? How many times did you go cycling? We had to give it away to the driver.”
She lived all her life under the shadow of her husband. The lesser parent, that’s what she thought of herself. Always putting the interests of her children above her, she was the idea home maker. The fact that she never earned, however, was always on her mind. Her daughter’s friends had all mothers who were school teachers. For her, these mothers were empowered, not just because they were financially independent but also because they added supplemented the family income. Not that her family needed a supplementary income, but she felt deeply inadequate and inept for not doing her bit.
What deepened this sense of low-esteem is that she was never allowed to study beyond a point. She barely completed college. Married off early, she aspired for higher education and a life spent in academics. But life had other plans. she does not seek temples and abodes of God…but even today, she bows her head inobesience every time she crosses Jawaharlal Nehru University. The sense of having lived a life dependent on someone, unable to live her dreams has left her unfulfilled.
And with this, she, my mother has lived 35 years of her married life.
She belonged to the generation that poured their existence in housekeeping and raising children. And as a mother today, I cannot thank her enough for being there with me every day of my life. From being a constant companion, to being a critic and my staunchest supporter till date, my mother is my pillar. So for all those moments that she spent judging herself, I have decided to change it.
Motherhood is a testing phase. Everyday looks like examination day. From wanting to do the right thing, to making the right decisions, to wanting to be the best mother. As I live through this roller coaster today, I understand my mother’s sense of self-doubt. I understand why she considered herself incapable. I understand her need to respect herself. Rendered home bound for more than a year, without a job and an income, I understand the need to have the pennies roll in. As a child, and even as an adult, until I became a mother, I didn’t understand this. Today I do!
And so, I sowed the seeds of entrepreneurship in her head.
The one thing that most women of my mother’s generation excelled in was a form of handiwork. From fine art, to needlework and cookery, anything to do with their hands and they were good at it. My mother has an inborn taken of needlework. For years she has spent hours bent over a piece of cloth laboriously needling it with intricate designs. From taking over my customary needlework assignment in school and deliberately making a few small errors to make it look like student work, to making my first apron and saree with her appliqué and embroidery, a lot of my mother’s work has been for me. Over the years, I have outgrown the various kameez that she embroidered for me. But when her grandson arrived on the scene, she dived headlong into creating pieces only for him. From the dhuti-panjabi for his mukhebhaat to his woollen quilt. Maa has woven, knitted and embroidered her love for my son.
As a generation that has little patience for many things, I know I lack the talent to do anything for my son. This, the act of handcrafting a piece of clothing, knitting sweaters, mittens and caps, or wearing self-embroidered clothing is dying. I know I will have to preserve all that mother makes for my son for my grandchildren. Her embroidered sarees, I hope to give my daughter-in-law. Now whether she’ll wear sarees or no, is another case! But I am sure, I am not the only one who shares these thoughts.
And so was born MOTHER’S BASKET. My mother’s maiden adventure into the role of entrepreneurship with handcrafted pieces of sarees, table runners, quilts, purses, cushion covers…and anything that your heart desires. Especially designed with a unique design in every piece, she will make you a piece that will make heads turn.
My mother has learnt computers at the age of 54. Today, like an enthusiastic child she discovers something new on the World Wide Web everyday. She does not have the tools for running a business today. And that’s where we come in. With plans to go e-commerce for a niche clientele, to adopting a village as her workstation, we hope to my Mother’s Basket a success for her sake.
Today however, she has a renewed energy. Her mind is abuzz with ideas. She calls me less often and when I do call her, she says she’s working on a product! At 55, she asks me with a nervous energy, her sense of low esteem and confidence still dominant, “Will anyone buy my work?” I say, “yes…I will sell your work Ma!”
She doesn’t know the art of guerrilla marketing. Or the trends in social media marketing. What she knows is her craft. As for me, I know she will not fail. I will not let her. Mothers are stronger than anyone in the family. A mother has it in her to succeed despite the odds. It’s never too late…