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Panjim-Goa: 23rd May was my late Mama’s birthday. If she was alive, she would have completed 91 years. She passed away due to cardiac arrest on 01st November 2004. Today I would like to share with you an anecdote of her life.

My mama was a loveable lady but a disciplined person. Whenever we did wrong things or didn’t listen to her, she immediately punished us with a stick. She believed and practiced the proverb, “Spare the rod and spoil the child.” In those days most of the parents, teachers, priests and nuns believed, “If you do not punish children when they do something wrong, they will not learn what is right and they go astray.” Corporal punishment was part of our life. The fear of punishment helped children to grow in discipline.

Mama could not tolerate back answers from any of us. My sister Genevieve when she was very young had the bad habit of answering back. For this bad habit, she always got punishment from mama. I must have been in the fifth standard and Genevieve in the fourth standard. When mama told Genevieve something to do, she answered back. Mama got angry and hit her with a stick. By mistake, the stick was hit on Genevieve’s head. Blood started to ooze. Mama tried to stop the blood with her herbal medicine. But blood was still oozing. Mama placed a folded kerchief on the wound and she asked me to take Genevieve to nearby Dr Srikanthayya (he was only a compounder, but everybody called him a doctor). With my right hand pressing the kerchief and holding Genevieve with the left hand, I led her to Dr Srikanthayya’s clinic.

My Mama’s photo with her typical smile. It was taken on the day of the Golden Jubilee of her wedding on 3rd January 1996 while she was sitting in the courtyard of our home at Nayakwadi of Kundapura Taluk, Udupi district.

He was from Mysore and living in our village in a rented house. He always spoke Mysore Kannada softly and gently. Since we were living near his clinic, he knew us. When we reached his clinic, he was reading an English daily. With hesitance, I entered his clinic. Seeing us he asked, “What happened to your sister?”. I told him she got hurt and the blood is still oozing. He immediately attended to my sister. As he was doing the dressing, he asked me, “How she got a wound on her head? Did she fall down?” I could not tell him the truth, though my mama taught us always to speak the truth. To save mama’s reputation and honour, immediately I answered, “Dr It was due to my mistake. She wanted a tender mango to eat from our tree. She pleaded with me to pluck.

They were on a height on the tree. I threw stones to pluck them. One stone hit came back and fell on her head. I am sorry Dr.” Instead of scolding me, he gently advised me saying, “Child, it is dangerous to throw stones at trees. In future, if you need a mango, ask your mother. She will pluck them with the help of a stick.” I promptly said, “Yes Dr I will do as you have advised me.” We came back home with a small bandage on Genevieve’s head and carrying the tablets given by the doctor. Mama asked me, “What did Dr Srikanthayya say to you?” I told her the whole story which I had told the doctor. Mama didn’t utter a single word. But from her smiling facial expression, I knew that she was pleased and appreciated me for saving her reputation and honour.

Today from heaven she must be smiling at me as I recount and share with you this anecdote. But the question still remains unanswered. If I had spoken the truth, Dr Srikanthayya, who respected my mother, would have got a negative attitude towards her. Did I do the right thing by telling a lie to save mama’s reputation? Were there other ways to save her reputation without telling a lie?.

After I wrote an anecdote about my mother today, I received many responses. Some said I look like her. It is true. When we walked on the road (even after I became a priest) people who didn’t know us thought that my mother is my elder sister!

Wedding photo which was taken at Kundapur Church

She was born on 23rd May 1930 and married on 03 January 1946 at a very young age 15 years 7 months and 10 days only. My papa’s age was then 25 years 1 month and 21 days. It was an arranged marriage. They never talked to one another before their marriage. Yet they lived a cheerful, meaningful simple life loving each other. After her death in 2004, within four months and four days, papa too passed away. His love for her till the end could be compared to that of a honeymoon couple’s love.

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