“It’s go, going, gone“. I correct my mother.
“Went alle?” She asks in innocent Malayalam.
“No, that is the simple past. Gone is the past participle..”
I teach her nuances in the English language two decades after she taught me to spell ABCs. She had always been a stay-at-home mom. Married at 18 and a mother at 20, our home was her world for years. She is an extremely smart and efficient woman. Sometimes I wonder what she would have accomplished had she been born in today’s world with its endless opportunities and dazzling career choices. Maybe an event manager. Maybe a college professor. Or perhaps a doctor, like me. She would have excelled at whatever she did. She certainly excelled at being a mother and homemaker.
An aunt of mine, an entrepreneur of sorts who quit her teaching career to open a yoga institute and find time for social services, had been pushing Mom to join her in various pursuits. There was an idea to start a small tuition centre for children if my mother relented. Mom had her reserves about it – whether she could do it, how she would manage the household chores, what Father would say. After an year of contemplation, she agreed with sparkling eyes and a thumping heart.
She started working this year with a handful of school kids and the numbers are slowly going up. She has always been great with kids and they love her. Every evening she returns with stories of their cheek or news of their improving grades, smiling from ear to ear. On my birthday she gifted me a watch and my favourite sweets bought with her own salary for the very first time.
She calls me up sometimes to ask doubts about the English chapters. It’s an alien tongue, something she lost touch with after her school years. Synonyms, idioms, sentence structure, tenses, pronouns, clauses. Grammar is her nemesis. But she will fight and learn. I know she will. She excels at being a student too.