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ISSN: 0974-892X


January, 2019



The Tide of Self-Reproach

Bindu Rani, Research Scholar, Department of English & Foreign Languages, M.D.U. Rohtak (Haryana)


Lily was reading the newspaper as usual in the morning while sipping cup of tea, abruptly she dropped the cup surprisingly. ‘No…no…n, it’s not possible, how can he….? I was wrong, I was wrong…,’ she screamed and ran towards her room, I followed her but she slammed the door in my face, I asked her to open the door but she said, “I am an offender, please! Leave me alone”. I thought to probe in the newspaper what the hell made her upset; I was stunned to read, “A 16 year’s old schoolgirl is raped by her teacher in Delhi”. She was her friend Swati who was raped by (Mr.Chaturvedi) her school teacher in coaching institute. The horrible reality printed as news, penetrated the acquitted mind of my 16 years old daughter; indecisive thoughts were floating in my mind, whether to feel doleful for that girl or blissful to see my daughter intact.

While sitting on the chair, Lily was looking outside the window with desperation when I entered in her room (she kept her room unlocked inside, was a sign that she wanted my presence). I stood nearby her and asked, “Lily!  How can you be an offender?  Are you concerned for your friend or feeling guilty for your wrong judgment?” It was First time after a long time when I saw my rebellious daughter unruffled over my question. The gamut of ambivalent feelings made her as silent as lamb. I sat on the bed nearby her and waited for her reply but she didn’t break her silence

Lily used to disregard me as a ruthless mother due to several reasons for past four years and there was no harmony in mother daughter relationship for a long time. She imposed a tag of bad mother on me. She used to call me Mrs. Mehta, I was pining to fondle her and hear the word ‘Mom’ from her for numerous years but she created a huge gap between us. When she was 11 years old I didn’t allow her to eat fast food regularly in the school canteen and reprobated her request to buy a smart tab for her to play video games. I do remember her silly demands.

‘Mom, all my friends have their lunch every day in canteen, I also want to join them, and I need some pocket money.’

But I strictly prohibited, “For a few days you have been having your lunch there regularly, what is the result? Food poisoning, right! If it is once in a week then it’s ok but every day? Never !”

‘Swati and Jiya are smarter than me, they play games on tab, it makes the mind sharper, it’s a very good mental exercise, and I need a tab mom.’ 

She was fascinated to a status symbol but being a mother and a doctor as well it was not graceful for me to ignore her health and hygiene. Her inane demands of smart tab in early age were like pushing her towards addictions for me. Well! She was not mature enough to understand my point of view. Many times she famished herself to sway me to satisfy her demands. But it was all in vain. I was immune to see her tantrum. Soon, after a few months she perceived the reality. Most of her friends were facing serious health snags due to consuming fast food recurrently. Swati and Jiya were suffering from tab and smart phone addiction disorder and couldn’t score well in examination, while Lily secured first position and was gaining accolades all around.  But still she was reluctant to talk to me; she was not in good speaking terms with me. Our conversation used to quite formal. When she stepped in 10th standards she was bent on to attend the smart classes in the coaching institute of (her teacher) Mr. Chaturvedi who brainwashed all the students to join his coaching institute, and this time I had to consider her wish, and I bequeathed her an ordinary phone. After a month I observed a beautiful teddy with embroidering heart, in her room.

I asked, “When did you purchase this lily”.

She replied with contempt but innocently, “my teacher gifted it to me 3 days ago on my birthday in institute”.

I didn’t find it good and had some qualms about her teacher’s morality, so I couldn’t unheed that and simultaneously I got a message of Mr. Chaturvedi on her phone, “Hi Lily why are you not coming for two days I don’t like your absence my dear, I miss you.” I smelled something fishy, she was suffering from cold for two days; Lily was unaware of the bad impulse of the people like her teacher. I was raged and gave a buzz to Mr. Chaturvedi, I inquired about the silly message and the gift (teddy) but he tried to persuade me by his clever and polite reply, “Lily is a very brilliant student and she creates a positive environment in class, every teacher like the strength of brilliant students in the class, as far as the gift is concerned that was on behalf of my wife to Lily, she is also impressed by her brilliance, and I also wish to have a daughter like Lily.” But a mother’s heart is always protective for her child so, I decided to sojourn her smart classes, Lily got rebellious on this and said disapprovingly, “why do you judgmental the innocent people like this, he is a good teacher as well as a nice human being and my observation about the people cannot be wrong, your suspicious attitude is unbearable for me, you always consider everyone like you.” She started losing her temper over trifles. Whenever I tried to talk and ask anything she became recalcitrant.

Well! I had also done the same with my mother as my daughter was doing to me. I asked again the reason of her guilt regarding the despicable news about Swati, but she was hushed.  Her silence reminded me, the crestfallen incidents of my childhood.

There was profound harmony between me and my mother, my father had passed away when I was 10 years old but my mother looked after me with full dedication in his absence, she was working as a guard in the nursery (plant market). I regarded her as the best mom of this world. When I was 12 years she was still caring me as a little baby but after few days she instructed me at night, “you are grown up now, you should do your chores on your own, get ready for school in the morning, make your breakfast, and develop a habit of being independent.” I thought she was kidding with me, I didn’t take her words seriously but she was serious. I waked up late in the morning, after getting ready, I asked for breakfast, but she denied preparing, finally I had to go without having breakfast in school but in the recess time I was sure that she would bring my lunch in school after all she was extremely kind and caring mother, but she didn’t come, I couldn’t apprehend what was happening and what was about to come across, after arriving at home I didn’t talk to her, and she was also silent. The very next morning the same thing was repeated, I famished myself to grab her attention but she was relentless. The limit was crossed when she started to get angry over trifles, once I used her towel, she cried, “never use my towel again, you are not a little kid now, you should have common sense that one should not use others towel, brush and soap.”  Then I compromised with the circumstances and started doing my chores, our conversation was going on very formal day by day, we lost harmony in mother and daughter relationship.  I also turned rebellious to her but by heart I was yearning to get her love, attention and care. One day I asked my mother for my school fee, she denied by saying, “there is a scarcity of money, I think you should attend the part time service in your school like other needy students.” I was surprised to hear those words but I was helpless.

She started to go to my aunt (masi) with every now and then, when I asked, she told me, “her health is down for a few days and she is admitted to the hospital.” She used to come at night with a tired and pale face but I didn’t care. One day she requested me, to shift to my Aunt (bua, who was living in my neighborhood after divorce, was a very nice lady) for 1 month and instructed to go to school from there, because she had to go to my aunt to look after her as she was earnestly sick

Meanwhile my aunt (masi) came to me, (she was looking all right, it was definite that my mother was telling a lie and something was wrong) she brought me to hospital, and I was stunned to see the miserable sight. My mother was lying on the bed in a very pathetic condition, (looking like a skeleton) seeming she was about to die, I was standing dumbfounded there, and then my aunt told me, “Reva! Your mother is suffering from cancer, facing the health hazard for 3 months, as you have been observing the radical changes in her behavior for you for 3 months, essentially she became relentless to make you mentally strong and independent so that you can live as good luck would have it in her absence, she is not a bad mother, it was not easy to keep her apart from you, she missed you in every moment, now her last time is near, she is pining to see you…”

My legs were quivering and my tongue became stiff, a tide of self-reproach made me, heartbroken, and I burst into tears, my mother put her hand on my hair and stroked it by saying, “don’t cry my daughter, don’t regret because it was indispensable to teach you to live without me…”  I clung to her legs and cursed myself, “I am a bad daughter, I am not worth for your love, and I couldn’t understand your good impulse behind your firm actions, please don’t go, and don’t leave me with this awful tide of self-reproach…”

But whenever I remember her last words I feel soothing my heart and free from self-reproach, her last words were, “you are the best daughter of this world, the best…the best…”after the death of my mother, living with my aunt, I put my full potential to achieve gold medalist education and burnt midnight oil to corroborate myself the best, and consequently today I am the best cancer specialist doctor of the city but again I had been suffering from tide of self-reproach for  past 4 years, being a bad mother, denominated by my daughter.

The silence of my daughter disappointed me, I stood up to move off her room with broken heart but abruptly I felt the soft adorable arms clinging to my legs, it was my daughter, Finally she broke her silence by saying, “I am extremely sorry mom, I am proud of your decision to disallow me to go to his institute, otherwise I would have been the victim, but I am woeful for the miserable condition of my friend… I am pining for your love but I don’t deserve for it, you are the best mom and I hurt your feelings to question on your motherhood…please forgive me…please...please…mom don’t go, don’t go to leave me alone.” Her words were equivalent my words to my mother and she was also in the same plight as I was in my past.  When I heard ‘Mom’ instead of Mrs. Mehta from her, I couldn’t control my feelings and broke down in tears. I embraced her in my craving arms. She gave me a lovable tight hug after a long time, I was waiting for that moment for past 4 years, and I was feeling the same elation when I gave birth to Lily. Finally I got the absolute freedom from the tide of self-reproach and understood patently when self-reproach emerges from misapprehensions, it creates huge rift between the pious bond of two persons and it can be removed only through putting best efforts to understand and respecting the point of view mutually.