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?