I was a thief. Big or small, taking anything from anyone without their consent is stealing, and I did that.
I was 6 years old & it was the Diwali week festivity that was in full swing at that time. Every friend of mine was busy bursting crackers, especially the gun we shoot with roll caps in them. So I wanted to accompany them and make merry! But there was a slight problem- we did not used to get the ‘pocket money’ that you’ve heard of and asking for money for a roll of cracker every couple of hours was not a good feeling. Even though I was never said a “NO” for anything I wanted, still asking for ₹ 3, so frequently was not something I could do. So I conveniently went to the room and took the money from my mother’s purse and rushed out of the house to continue with the “tha-tha” & “thain-thain” of the guns.
At first i was a little shivery, but after a couple of times, I felt like a pro in stealing. But surprisingly I wasn’t as smart as I thought i was! I thought she didn’t notice but as they say- “you can’t hide anything from Mothers. They always knows everything.”
The next day when my father came back from work, my mother called me in the room and when no one was around, she handed me two huge packets of the roll caps for the guns (each of the packet contained 15 – ₹ 3 small packets of the roll caps). I was still in awe and overwhelmed when she smiled at me and said- “What is mine is yours. If you ever need something, come and tell me instead of taking it without permission. It’s better than having the guilt that follows” and she went away. I stayed. I didn’t know what to say or what to do. It was a different feeling. I was happy I got what I wanted (that too in abundance) but there was this feeling inside my stomach that made me feel so bad, so guilty of doing something so bad and that I didn’t deserve the love she just showered on me. Maybe I broke her trust and I officially became the bad girl in front of my mother.
Those words stayed with me somehow and I never ‘took’ anything from anyone after that day (without permission). I still ponder over the possible outcomes- she could have yelled at me and I guess that would have been fair as well. But she didn’t. She did not even tell this to anyone, including my father (atleast not in front of me). Do you even realize how embarrassed i would have been or how miserable the situation could have turned. But she handled it so well!
If she had yelled on me that day, I might have repeated that but with more caution. I might have continued that without getting caught maybe. But she saved me. The assurance that everything we had was mine as well and that we were not different, but a part of a family, was maybe all that was needed. She taught me that you could not steal when you know its already yours. The belongingness, the love and the friendship that she had shown me that day was exceptional.
This, for me, is real, hardcore, FEMINISM! Love, care, protection, understanding, and inculcating what’s right and what’s wrong is what motherhood is all about.