We were supposed to leave for Bhubaneswar next Saturday to visit our home. More specifically to spend some time with my Maa. it is almost thirty years since I left my home to start my career in the insurance line, but we have made it sure to visit home regularly at least once in a year. After our father's demise, we have decided to visit more regularly if possible once in a quarter.
Every time we visit home, she makes it sure to carry something for everybody. As usual, I will enquire " is there anything for Maa".And the usual reply "I know my responsibility". This time also she has purchased the items for all and only we have to buy a Saree for Maa. Being the weekend we decided to buy it. Like any Indian husband, I prefer not to show my expertise in this area of selecting the right Saree. But the ego of a son was guiding me to buy the best saree without caring for the price. And accordingly, we picked up a good saree. After the death of my father, I have made it clear to my eldest sister-in-law that there should not be any restriction on her. Let her live her life in her own style.
We reached home before lunch and all the Pattanayaks were there to welcome us. As usual, Sipra handed over the gifts to the respective family members. I was looking for Maa's reaction. I was expecting she will inquire about the price and I will get a rebuke from her for buying a costly saree. And that will be my satisfaction to show her that price does not matter when I am getting something for my Maa. But her silence hurt the feelings of a son. She took the saree and went to keep it in her cupboard. Both of us followed her to her room. It is a treat to see the way she keeps her belongings in the cupboard, neatly and systematically kept. And this is the reason for the creation of many termors at our home in Vadodara because I dare to highlight and compare Sipra's cupboard with that of my Maa.
Maa kept the saree in the required place in her cupboard and took out a stack of cotton saree. I thought she wanted to set right the cupboard, but she took out a cotton saree from it and showed it to me. " Do you recognize it". I could not recollect it. I could not find out the special importance of a simple old cotton saree. She was smiling and Sipra was not able to understand it. I looked at her and expected that she should help me in recollecting the significance of the saree. It was your first gift to me out of your first income when you were still a student.
Now it was a flashback. In 1984 when I was doing my post-graduation in Ravenshaw College at Cuttack I got the opportunity to participate in a sports quiz arranged by Doordarshan and I was paid Rs.72 as a fee for participating. That was my first income. And out of it, I bought a saree for Rs.64 for my Maa and balance amount for getting some snacks for home. She has kept it as a souvenir for her. I could see the feelings of my Maa expressed by her tearful eye. The ego of a so-called successful established insurance executive was demolished and a helpless son was still learning the basics of life from his Maa. It is not the price but the feelings of a son are more valuable for a Maa.