About Mothers and Daughters

“our mother’s remain the strangest and craziest people we’ve ever met” she had said.

“call me mother and harkens to my tale. This is something about nothing” her mother had said an hour and half ago.

Radhamma, the heart and soul of the senior citizen’s guild wanted closures.  5th child to a borderline autistic mother and authoritative father. Average student between brilliant siblings.

“we would come home from school, there would be nothing to eat.”

“why” Sheena asked, “your father was in government service so financial issues should not have been there’

“let me clear it was not lack of food, it was lack of edible food. If appayya forgot to give instruction to the cook, there would be nothing there.”

“Your mother”

“well if she was not pregnant she would be occupied with the latest kid.”  Slowly things came tumbling out.

The middle child, mediocre she would struggle hoping that if she performed academically well her father would take notice of her. But he never seemed to get beyond her older sister who Radha had secretly named Wazir. The brothers would gang-up and play cricket or walk down the roads of Mylapore. She was left behind.

The loneliness would engulf her, she thought maybe taking charge of the kitchen would make her mother love her, but her cooking efforts were ridiculed until her older sister came into the kitchen and quietly straightened things. though the others pretended not know it, Radha’s self esteem only fell lower.

At school, the constant refrain of teachers, “aren’t you the doctor’s daughter, all your siblings were brilliant what happened to you”

“today at 85, I understand it is not amma’s fault, she had no mother, she was brought up a father, so was clueless how to be a mother”

When Radha got married and her daughter was born, aptly educated by the Hindi movies Radha decided that her daughter will not go through the emotional drought like she had.  The result she micro-managed her daughter to the extent of how to behave with her husband in bed. Unfortunately Radha had her education in post independence India educated by Anglo-Indian nuns.

The daughter Vani, simply cannot handle any relationship. she was happiest when she was alone working as teacher at a boarding school, her husband estranged living alone in Chennai, her son residing in Pondicherry in a neo-spiritual community. At 57 Vani on the brink of retirement was scared of her options.

Sheena finished coffee, and asked the group of students who were observers at the session. What are your inputs.

“the mother is lonely so is the daughter they should stay together.”

“she should go back to her husband”

“why is she scared of her son?”

“What do you think we are talking about here?” asked Sheena.

“ma’am a dysfunctional family”

“okay” said Sheena, “let not get judgemental, tell me what is the first impression you had of the mother?”

She was fun, capable but extremely judgemental, critical and demanding – this seemed to be the general opinion.

The kids, left she wondered  Radha wanted her daughter to be perfect… but who created the perfect? It was Radha’s mind that said, well perfect is this, so to ensure this perfection she had controlled Vani so much that Vani was exhausted. The result being Radha’s mother transferred her loneliness to Radha… and Radha transferred it to her daughter… and her daughter to her son… the mother wound was created.

Radha needed attention, she thought she was not worthy of attention… she decided her daughter would be perfect, her daughter would be perfect her constant nagging and criticism destroyed the daughter’s self worth…

Need for approval from father…she wanted her husband to take the place of her father, but he was gentle and a loner. So Radha’s loneliness continued, deep down she felt the lack of approval from her husband. The belief that father-husband-son’s approval was essential for survival was strong that Radha had tried to find a daughter-in-law for herself rather than a wife for son. He quietly went abroad and married his childhood sweetheart without informing his mother. the mother wound played up again.

“ma’am how do we deal with this” Richard had asked. He was always looking at the solution.

“where would you begin work from “Sheena counter questioned.

“well probably re-parenting,”


“working on self-esteem” this was Meghan,

“self nurturance?”

“ma’am  did you notice neither Radha, nor Vani were willing to protect or take care of their mother, which we usually see in these cases”

Sheena smiled, indeed mother’s were the strangest and craziest people we knew we grow through life trying to be different from them and one fine day we realize we have mirrored them to perfection.  The emotionally absent mother of Radhamma, transformed to the critical mother of Vani  and Vani refused to grow up at all. well, with Radhamma it was about closures but Vani was a long haul.

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