My mother, the martyr

When duty done begins to be considered as favours done, you invite a superiority complex.

india Updated: Sep 18, 2006 14:38 IST

A distant relative of ours was quite sick. My mother was requested to help. She would visit the hospital twice with freshly-cooked food and would spend a lot of time there. This routine continued for over a week, till the patient recovered sufficiently to be discharged. Still, my mother wouldn’t stop and continued to visit the recovering relative at his home. We felt that she was overdoing it but didn’t have the heart to tell her this.

Over the years, I have seen her go quite overboard in such matters when someone was unwell and sought her assistance. Still, she doesn’t have many close friends, who would like to spend time with her. I have wondered why. Why do our relatives not invite her over when they are healthy? Why doesn’t she herself visit her relatives more often?

I have tried to analyse her psyche, having lived so close to her for so many years. What is wrong is that she doesn’t come close to others despite having done so much for them. Why is she so adept at doing her duty, and believe me she has done it wonderfully for all her children, and still not be able to love? Why is she ready to renounce everything materially but not give a little space in her heart? Why does she not relax completely in the presence of her close ones? Why is her favourite topic wrongs or alleged wrongs done to her? Why does she sound martyred instead of having pleasant exchanges?

And, the result of behaving in this fashion has not been very nice. She leads a very lonely life, unloved, because it takes two to love. She attracts suffering which could so easily be avoided.

Pride is at fault, in having lived a very austere life. Duty done is considered as favours done. She has a huge superiority complex without any great basis, and is more possessive than loving. I really feel sorry for my mother. And I know there are many like her in Indian society today.

First Published: Sep 18, 2006 13:09 IST