When you’re a 34-year-old woman, shifting houses halfway across the world by yourself, with 10 luggages, two tiny kids (aged 5 and 8) to take care of, and a 9-hour-long flight to survive, you know you’ve achieved something big. And that’s my mum. Time and again, she had somehow managed to put up with all the tantrums, crying, boredom and restlessness that came with childhood and travelling with us. And over the course of my journeys with her, I can confidently say I have learnt a lot from her and she, from me (patience, if not anything else).
I started ‘travelling’ with her before I could even speak. My dad’s work involved moving between countries, which meant she had to travel often during vacations to spend time with him.
I can say I’ve had my share of mini adventures with her, starting with a speedboat ride in Maldives when I was just a baby. We were in the middle of the ocean, when a cyclone had started forming! Luckily for us, we were able to make it to the shores driving at full speed. Just talking about this experience makes her shudder, as she recollects how bumpy and scary the ride had been. She had to grab hold of me tightly, worried that I might slip out of her hands.
Then, there were the 2 years we spent in South Africa when I was a little older. I remember sitting under her car seat, nervous as I listened to the roars from nearby lions. We were in a park full of lions, out in the open. They were tame and yet, that didn’t make their growls less scarier!
And over the last 20 years, after travelling to different places (Singapore, Bahrain, UAE, Malaysia and Europe), I’ve realised how things are much smoother travelling with her.
Yes, we have had our share of arguments and quarrels. Sometimes, she rushes through things during a vacation and she worries that we might miss our flight or get late. She agrees that she is a little paranoid. She hates it when I am lazy or disorganized, even during vacations. When we went to Europe last month, I noticed how she still has that motherly instinct in her that makes her anxious and think that my brother and I might get lost (I am 23 years old and my brother, 27 now)!
But I suppose most mothers feel the same way- they worry and it’s a habit that is hard to let go of.
These journeys with her have helped me grow as a person and learn to be an adult. Whether it’s stocking up on the right medicines or going easy on junk food, learning to fold clothes in a certain way so as to make more space in my suitcase or waking me up early (I love morning walks), travelling with my mum is comforting. I know her well, we get along and she teaches me to be more organized and avoid doing anything reckless or stupid.
And have I taught her something through our journeys? Well, I think so. She has slowly learnt to worry less and loosen up a bit. We don’t arrive 4 hours early anymore to catch a train. She doesn’t ask me to hurry, so as to not fall behind when travelling with a tour guide. I guess she has made peace with the fact that sometimes, it’s okay to be lost. It’s fine to be laid-back, not worry about being late for anything and just enjoy your vacation.
~ Venkatesh Murali
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