The House of Scholars | Milaap

The House of Scholars

I was surprised at seeing such distinct personalities. One kept barking at me, another stretched out on the staircase, unmindful of the surroundings.  As I continued to write random words in slimy patterns in my notebook, Bilashini spoke, “You have a beautiful handwriting.” I pointed at my writing, “You’re talking about this? Ah! I don’t think so”, I retorted. She smiled as she offered me tea.
She is fifty-eight now, her wrinkles visible, those lines crisscross now. Something is so beautiful and deranged at the same time about the nature of mothers. She is like the home we take for granted, but we come right back when loneliness engulfs us. She is looking at me now, as I swallowed a mouthful of tea, I started, “Shall we begin?”

Bilashini got married in the year 1980. She resides in Wangkhei, Manipur. “My father was a farmer. I have three elder brothers. Since I was the only daughter, I was pampered a lot”, she chuckled. Bilashini was a hardworking student, but unfortunately, she did not get the chance to complete her education. She sighed, “My family was burdened with financial troubles at that time. So, I had to drop out. I got married the next year.”

From the very beginning, her aim was to make sure that all her children are well educated. “I gave birth to six children. I knew that it will be difficult for us to support their education.” Bilashini is an unrelenting woman. She pushed herself and her children to work harder.They used to get angry sometimes, now they understand why I was so strict.” Her elder son is an electrical engineer while her second son is a mechanical engineer. Her daughter is a teacher. She teaches science at a nearby school. She announced, “My daughter wants to pursue Ph.D. She wants to bear the expenses of her education now. She won’t let us help.”Her third son is applying for medical, while her fourth son is currently completing his education from Manipur Information Technology. The proud mother declared, " My youngest son is in standard nine. He wants to be an IPS officer.” There lies a high proportion of the population in India, who either did not attend school or dropped out because of financial constraints. However, there are others who dropped out simply because they did not consider education compulsory. In light of these events, it is somewhat splendid to witness this woman who went against all odds to educate her children.

This mother did not once regret imparting all her time and self to her children. She weaves from time to time. “Earlier, it was difficult to weave all the time. Now my children are all grown up and I have ample amount of time”, she smiled widely.  Initially, it was difficult for Bilashini’s husband to sustain the entire family. “My husband is a nice man. I knew how difficult it was for him to arrange the money required during the admission every year, but he never complained. I helped him from time to time. I used to take part-time work just to help him financially.” The family overlooked all their financial issues to bequeath the society a bunch of scholars. I don’t smile often, but she reminded me of my mother, my lips curled.
Bilashini seemed content. She took me into the shade of a barn and showed me the area where she used to practice gardening.
 “I loved gardening. I used to grow vegetables here”. She informed me about how the flood destroyed her vegetables. Since then she did not get time to restart gardening. "My children want me to start gardening again.  They even scold me sometimes for my lack of initiative. They seem to have  grown up", she simpered.
The sun was setting underneath our feet, as I bid farewell to the mother.