In case you haven’t heard, India these days is all about protecting Mother India.
Which led me to wonder, who is this lady with all these Indian children? Is she a cool mom, not like other moms? Does she work? Is she paid as much as Father India? Does she make hot rotis for everyone, everyday, and only eat dinner when everyone else is done? Does she have a passport? Does she use contraception? What kind? Does she own property, and did she have to fight for it?
Aww gee, even I know Mother India is just a metaphor, kind of like Germany called itself Fatherland in World War II! There’s no real harm in pretending that the country you live in is your parent, because it feeds you, gives you a place to live and cares for you, right? It’s even kind of sweet!
Plus, mothers are amazing, and Indian mothers particularly so. Not amazing like “what an amazing film yaar”, but truly badass flaming warrior goddess amazing. (Hi ma!)
Except, Indian mothers ≠ Mother India. Indian mothers are real, live women, who are equal citizens of the country. They need safe spaces to live and work in, access to menstrual hygiene, health care, clean water, property and legal rights. Also, some intelligent conversation (seriously dude, stop taking your mother for granted!).
Unlike these women, “Mother India” is infinitely generous. She needs nothing in return, except protection and platitudes.
Why is this dangerous? Reducing motherhood to the ability to reproduce and “nurture”, is kind of like saying a mother is just a pair of boobs and a womb. Which is the sort of thing you should never say, because it will get you a thappad from your mum.
This may come as a surprise: what makes mothers special is not that they gave birth to us. No, really. It isn’t. It’s not even the fact that they fed us for years, literally dealt with our crap and taught us how to walk, talk and think for ourselves.
What makes mothers awesome is all the stuff they deal with like champs before babies ever came into the picture, and how much they continue to learn and grow, independent of their child’s existence (ever seen your ma’s WhatsApp game? Her reading list? The number of recipes and life hacks she stores IN HER HEAD?).
This too may shock you, but your mother is a person, a female person. I’d even go so far as to say that she’s a woman. And since she isn’t going to be around to deal with your hissy fits forever, stop fighting with strangers over Bharat Mata and call your own.