Thursday, May 7, 2009

My mother loves to quote

To make a relevant point in a context, all of us have quoted an expert at some point in our lives. It is generally considered essential, not to say, fashionable to quote on a subject over which you want to claim autonomous authority. The more quotes you can pull out of your arsenal, the more scholarly you look.

Friends, I would like to introduce you to my Mom, the consummate scholar. My sisters and I were raised on quotes. A typical day in our childhood saw astounding quotes like these:

  • Eating a spoonful of squished neem leaves with yogurt every morning will cure all of your stomach ailments. If you don't believe me, check last week's 'Kalaimagal' (a homemaker's magazine).
  • On a hot sunny day like today, you should be sure to have a lot of yogurt to cool your body....our next door neighbor told me today so you see?
  • Massaging warm gingily oil on the scalp twice a week will promote hair growth....your Aunt from Alwarpet told me over the phone yesterday......you should listen to her.
  • Soaking your colors and whites separately for 15 minutes before washing is good for the clothes...I heard it from the man on the street corner ironing the clothes..

This is simply a sample of the million quotes she used every day to guide us in the right path of life. If it is not the weekly magazine, neighbor or a distant relative, she would have heard it from the daily TV newsperson, my uncle's maidservant, my aunt's sister-in-law or the dear old lady she met on the bus to the temple. Her ability to quote from a variety of sources is unparalleled.

Not to take away any credit from my father's erudition, he did occasionally quote but his knowledge was very limited to literary works such as Shakespeare and Thomas Gray. Even though he could recite Anthony's speech in Shakespeare's Julius Caesar from heart (during when I stared open-mouthed at him in awe) and quote famous poets, he simply could not compete with my mother's ability to quote on a wide range of issues.

The other day, I found myself telling my daughter "If you don't apply oil and braid your hair every day, you are not going to have any hair left. If you don't believe me, check with your grandmother." I have come full circle, don't you think?

-Meena Sankaran

13 comments:

Sankaran said...

Very funny! Knowing your mother I can feel it too.

Srilatha said...

You got off easy quoting your mother. The other day, my mom was watching IPL Cricket. She was very excited that her fav team had won the match. I told her - "A stranger is playing and getting the money and fame. Why are you excited?" Then it hit me - I had become my dad. I am still trying to recover from that realization.

Meenakshi Sankaran said...

That is a good one, Srilatha. Isn't it ironical that after years of rebellion against parents, we end up just like them. These days, I find myself doing/saying a lot of things that mother had said or done.

நாகு (Nagu) said...

This post brought back lots of memories. Mother's quotes to my english teacher's Antony's speech....

Hope you are not saying things like 'If you don't do this, you will end up like Nagu uncle'....

Sreelatha said...

Unconsciously all the quotes that was said in our presence have been engraved in our brain. So, we try the same trick with our children...Hope they grow to be like us one day as we have grown to be either our mom or dad! Enjoyed reading keep writing!

Saraswathi said...

This post takes me down memory lane. When we were part of a big joint family, my mother used to display her unparalled management skills in her domain, the kichen. When there was only thayir/mor saadam for dinner,she used to say "rathtriyila thayir saadam sapta udambukku avalo kulirchi". When she had other stuff to finish off, and we opted for mor saadam, she would say, "muttalukkuthan moonuvelaiyum mor saadam". When she had rasam that needed to be finished off, she would come up with the brilliant, "kala kala nnu rasam sapta udambellam kala kalathu irukkum". Any kind of pedantry and scholarship would be baffled in front of her time tedted home truths. "Age cannot wither, nor costom stale" my mom.If only she had had some kind of tertiary education , she would have reached unattainable heights, only dreamt by us. A woman of "infinite variety", she is at once an epitome of patience and fortitude and a childlike person who can be related to at all levels. I cant seem to sing enough of her praise. Mom, its been a privilege.

Meenakshi Sankaran said...

Thanks, Nagu, for stopping by. There is no better walk than the one down memory lane. All those special moments growing up seem even more precious when we revisit them.

Meenakshi Sankaran said...

I am glad you enjoyed reading the post, Latha. Thanks for stopping by.

Meenakshi Sankaran said...

Krithika,

I join you wholeheartedly in saying 'Mom, you are the best'....Thanks for taking me back to warm Summer nights in our Ashok Nagar kitchen where Amma was just being Amma...I wouldn't have her any other way.

jeyashrisuresh said...

meena i completely agree what u said. nowadays suresh is telling me that i am totally commanding my kids like what my mom do on us. and as kirthika said i experienced all those moments when i was in ashok nagar during my second delivery. she used to tell me to take oil bath 2 times a week,and followed by a punch"bala told" and tell my daughter to eat bitter guard "joshi told'.so nice of athai.

Sriram V Iyer said...

Naga Athai was always awesome! I was taken down the memory lane in Ashok Nagar too.

I didnt know Athimber quotes Shakespeare! We discuss more religion, philosophy and cricket :D

Athai's wide range of culinary skills is another thing to write about. (And I have to write about all three of you :D)

And, Meena, I can visualize Arthi rolling her eyes when you quoted athai on applying oil to scalp! Can't wait to see you all!

Meenakshi Sankaran said...

Sriram, you are dead right about the eye rolling reaction. We are all eagerly waiting to see you too.

Meenakshi Sankaran said...

Quoting Bala manni is second nature to Amma, Jeyamma. I would even say that she is the most widely quoted of all. Nice seeing you back here again.