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Make Pearls

I love watching Indian movies that portray the gritty side of life, the every-person story that elevates us with hope and magic. When life intervenes in the darkest of ways, as it did for us a few days ago, it is difficult to miss the parallels between fiction and reality.

"The Great Indian Kitchen" on Prime is a Malyali movie with English subtitles. It tells the story of a young woman who aspires to be a dancer. She marries through an arrangement between families and lands in her new home to encounter a world that is mind-numbingly monotonous and full of self-centered people with no interest in her. She embarks on a journey of self-discovery and in a final act, at once shocking and funny, she assertively draws a line in the sand in search of peace.

Like an oyster, she takes what she wants to reject and turns it into a pearl, a life experience to help her grow.

This week my mother is showing us how to make pearls.

She had a life-threatening health crisis a few days ago. Instead of giving up, she is making a Herculean effort to barrel through her new reality in ways that are filling us with awe. In her recovery, she continues to wake up at 5am to get ready and say her prayers.

When I ask her how she is, she nods instead of complaining. Yesterday when I said, "Ma, don't cry!" she emphatically said "I am not crying!” dismissing the story her face was telling me.

In the last couple of days, she has remembered minutiae about our lives dating back to my childhood and kept tabs on us even though the words aren't coming easily. When she is tired or frustrated, she doesn't hang up. She simply says, "You talk" and then listens. She tells me in simple words how grateful she is to my brother and sister-in-law for their dedication. She remains ever present while gripping what providence has dished.

Silently and steadily, Ma is making pearls to enrich us. If she can do it, I know I can. I just need her to be my teacher forever.


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