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EDITORIAL: Hands That Rock The Cradle

It was not for nothing that Napolean Bonaparte is understood to have once said ‘Give me a good mother and I will give you the world,’ or something to this effect. Again there must be reasons galore why we call one’s country Motherland and not the other way round or one’s principal language Mother tongue and not Uncle Tongue or Father Tongue. There have of course been instances when some mavericks who wanted to be different or portray an image that is far removed from the universally accepted norms and hence turned Motherland into Fatherland, though we have not heard of anyone’s language suddenly taking on the masculine gender or switching from Mother tongue to Father tongue. This is not a debate on the merits or demerits of the term one uses to describe one’s country or Nation, but is more of an attempt to underline the importance of the role that has become synonymous with motherhood.

On May 8, India joined some other countries, notably the United States of America in observing Mothers’ Day and while legitimate questions may be raised over why a special day should be set aside for the mothers of the world, it is nevertheless important to remember the significance of this day. In many ways, Mothers’ Day has somewhat come to be synonymous with the Church or Christianity and this is not surprising for its origin lies in the land whose currency comes with the bold statement, ‘In God We Trust.’ No prizes for guessing the identity of the God in question here for the currency we are referring to is none else but the US Dollar, where Christianity has a profound influence.

Likewise, the Brits too observe Mothers’ Day, but it is on the fourth Sunday of every Lent while in some European countries, like Spain, the special day for the mothers of the world is kept aside during the winter, that is either in November or December. Closer home, this day has a special position in the calendar of the Thais, but the novelty here lies in the manner in which Mothers’ Day is celebrated or observed on the persona of the Queen of the Land, who is regarded as the Mother of all the Thais. We understand, Thailand started keeping aside this day from 1976. No doubt there is the tendency to identify Mothers’ Day with the Church alone but this would be eroding the significance of the day, for Mothers’ Day need not and should not come bound by the definition of any religious beliefs. There is something intrinsically secular about this day and if Christmas, Diwali, Valentine’s Day or the festivities that come along with each Holi, have become more and more characterized by secular factors, there is no reason, why Mothers’ Day should not become a universal day and not keep itself under the chain of religious beliefs and faiths.

By this we are not in any way suggesting that religious institutions like the Church should wash its hands from this day, but rather, it is more about giving Mothers’ Day a more universal appeal, where everyone, irrespective of one’s religious leanings or beliefs can come out and set aside a special day for the Mothers of the world. This is where we may also be faced with the uncomfortable question of whether setting aside a day for Mothers of the world, will not just amount to belittling their role and the important place they occupy in all sections of society, through the history of mankind, stretching from the days of the cave dwellers to the dot com age.

India presents itself as a land of paradox, as far as its treatment or the role and status that women occupy in society is concerned. This is the land where Goddess Durga as also Laxmi, Saraswati, Sita and others exist in a state of perfect harmony along with dowry demands, bride burning, khap panchayat and a skewed sex ratio which has already got many conscientious people worried. In other words, while the patriarch of the family may worship Goddess Durga with all his heart, he sees nothing wrong or sees it necessary to kill any female fetus in the womb of his wife or any of his near relatives, who rely and depend on him. Moreover this is a country where the term Ma is much more profound than Mother or Mom, as we hear in the English speaking Nations. So while there is something of a halo around the term Ma, the term Bahu or Beti or Behen may take on an entirely different meaning and far from coming anywhere near the profound or the noble, they may just be treated as the lowest of the lows, a creature who is there to do the biddings of the men folk and someone who can be done away with without much of a hassle.

In Manipur, Mothers’ Day did not go unnoticed, thanks to the efforts taken up by the Church, such as the Manipur Baptist Convention as well as the attention given to it by the English press here. However we also need to acknowledge the many paradoxes that face us, when we come to the question of whether women and by extension, Mothers are given their due or not. Manipur may perhaps be one of the rare States or place, which can boast of the unique Meira Paibi movement, which has today come to occupy an important place amongst the people here. The Meira Paibi movement in its present avatar may be traced to the two Nupi Lans and given the important role played by the womenfolk, it is not surprising to see the special position they occupy in the social realm.

However none can write off that uneasy feeling that the Nupi Lans and the Meira Paibi movement may just turn out to be the smoke screen to portray a highly exaggerated image of womenfolk or the Mothers of the land. This is where we need to seriously question ourselves, more so given the fact that a number of crooks have not hesitated to pursue their agenda behind the protective garb of the Meira Paibis and where women are increasingly being used to serve as the pigeons of yore, carrying messages from one place to another. We do not need to elaborate here. In short, Mothers’ Day is nothing less that doffing our hats and keeping a special day aside to acknowledge the role played by Mothers across the world. So, if you have anything to say to your Mummy or Ima, do it now. If you feel you have wronged your Ima do it now, for tomorrow may just be too late. It is too bad that not many share the sentiments of Napolean Bonaparte, in letter and spirit. He was not exaggerating nor did his observation come anywhere near a melodrama for indeed, it is the hands that rock the cradle that rule the world.

(Courtesy: The Sangai Express)

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