MIDWAY : Mummy’s doctrine

Namita Nepal

From Marxism and Leninism to feminism and humanism, the world has often been swept by principles that have permeated societies, sometimes for a short duration and at others, for ages. But one “ism” that has withstood the test of time and held its ground is a doctrine “mumism” — mum’s “ism”. It has been all-time favourite of mothers and daughters, young and old, strong and weak. This doctrine, the warnings and the sagacious words that were a part of it, were an intrinsic part of our lives. The “mumisms” mom rattled off with practiced ease were always so crazy — related to “their own fault”, tragedies she was used to describing them in a voice most people use to narrate ghost stories! If we were tipping back on the hind legs of a chair, she told us about a man she knew, who did the same thing, fell, broke his neck and was paralysed for the rest of his very short life. If we tossed a kernel of popcorn in the air and caught it in our mouths, mum reminded us about an unfortunate guy, she knew, who did the same thing and was choked to death! There was and endless list of these poor unfortunate guys and a lesson in every story.

Mum had never been to college, but of course, there was the ghastly tale of this very intelligent person who ruined his future by playing fool all day and never studying, and who was now reduced to doing menial jobs! And when my sister and I giggled ourselves silly by sticking our tongues on the freezer, mum sent her warning by acquainting us with the family’s wastrel. Who got tongue stuck and has to have firemen come and cut half of it. I had finally realised that there was no limitation to “mumism” and if I could not defend myself against its onslaught, it was better to flash my best smile and surrender willingly. It has stood me in good stead. Today, I do not regard “mumism” as an overprotective mother’s platitude mouthed to keep children under control. The doctrine, I think, have an old-world wisdom, born out of years of experience and selfless love. What’s more, “mumism” always worked.

“Mumism”, with all it “no-nos” and “do-sos,” never failed me. It could shock you into retreat, make you give a second thought to your adventurous forays into and impulsive romance, stop you in your tracks to just absorb the lesson and, on rare occasions, stoked the rebellious streak in you. You could love it or hate, but never be indifferent to it. It clung to you like second skin, coursed through your being and stayed with you for lifetime. “Mumism” never lets you down.