“The Violin”

“I’m too old to start all over again.” Ma snapped at me. Her big almond-shaped eyes could easily scare anyone, and I was only her youngest one. Ma went back to wiping the kitchen counter showing me her back. I knew she was annoyed at me for pestering her, but I had a feeling she was more angry at me for not helping her clean the aftermaths of ‘dad making breakfast’. She had been putting it off for weeks now. My older brother had given up and decided it was a waste of time since Ma did not even want to try anymore. But I was not done yet, I still had hope.

Ma is the bright one amongst us, full of love. Her exuberance can light up any mundane moment. She has always been our anchor. Dad and my older brother never looked at each other with love, but with the burden of failed expectations. Ma says that is because they both are insanely similar personalities. Dad wanted his ‘son’ to join the family business like it had been the case for generations. But growing up, my very imaginative big brother had no interest in the real world. He was a daydreamer, who always had stories to tell. Almost all our summer vacations were spent in the garden sitting under the makeshift tents listening to his very detailed and colorful stories. And so when the time came to make career choices, my brother very confidently opted for ‘Literature’. Therefore, adding yet another disappointment to dad’s list.

My brother continued to thrive in his world while dad got engulfed in his own stubbornness. He resented having a son who was so far minded and clearly disrespectful towards his family. I was too little to contribute in any way, especially since dad became angrier and aloof. But ma says I was always able to cheer him up even when he was in the worse mood. Dad often says that I remind him of his own mom who died years before I was born. She was a woman to reckon with. She could warm your soul with her insightful words and bring chills down your spine with just one look. Dad inherited that look from her. Though he could never scare me down, I always won that game.

I now wonder how we create our own world of stories amongst the many relationships. We find comfort in looking for similarities between the past and present. And maybe that is why we all stay alive in pieces scattered amongst the loved ones and future generations. And so dad was always invariably reminded of his own mother, anytime I soothed his angry soul. I have used this trick to keep him from getting into many arguments. In fact, I once was able to call off a major family drama on one of my cousin’s wedding by just holding dad’s hand and walking him away from the fight that was about to get extremely ugly. Everyone in the family after that incident started to identify me even more with my grandma.

I am not ashamed at all for being put in the same league as her. She was a powerhouse. I often hear stories about her that only make me proud to be her grandchild. But for me, I identify myself more with my ‘Ma’. She raised us to be humble for she never tried to stand out even though she deserved every bit of recognition. She successfully took care of us and managed the home beautifully. She understood us better than we ever could on our own. Dad was around of course, but it was Ma we looked for every morning for a hug; for guidance when we were lost, for her songs when there was too much noise around, for her resilience when everyone around was breaking down.

So, when it was my time to choose a career, I courageously chose ‘Business Management’. Only dad was surprised, Ma reacted like she always knew this course of my life, and my brother was finally relieved of any guilt he had kept hidden all these years. As for why I joined the family business, that is because I felt most like myself every time dad took me to the factory on Sundays or anytime he gave me a preview of a new machine. I took pride in being his daughter. That business had given us so much happiness that I wanted to improve it and take it to another level. I belonged there. And it was only Ma who saw that passion in me. She explained it all to me on one of our late night chit chats after my 10th board exams. Her exact words, “Close your eyes and turn up the volume of your favorite music and then think hard about what feeds your soul? What is it that gets you moving more than this music right now? And if it does not come to you right away, then just enjoy the music, for the door will open, sweetheart. You just need to identify that door first, for your happiness.”

So today, I am not letting ma go anywhere until she opens the door and picks up her violin. The violin she gave up because she was too busy raising a family and keeping it all together for everyone else. Dad tried his bit, but he too gave up. So, he decided to stick to what he knows best, tea and reading (one of my brother’s books). It all depends on me now. Ma will play again, I know she yearns for that part of her life. Her first love is the violin and I have big plans for her. Ma is going to teach music so she can pass on the knowledge and love she has for music. It has been her dream since she first learned to play the violin and realized how powerful music can be.

And so I stood right there not waiting for her turn around and said, “Ma, you do not have a choice. And you know I will not let you go anywhere. So, leave all this and pick up where you left.”

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