So when my mum’s hands caught my attention today, I was surprised. Plain hands, non-manicured hands, cracked and even calloused hands. For someone so obsessed with the beauty of these limbs, noticing these ones was a little out of league. But then I realised that the person attached to these non-attractive hands was my mum. Hands that were absently caressing my leg as I lay down lazily on a summer afternoon. The same hands that have been doling out a million little messages of love, care and comfort from the day I was born.
Mum has always admired my hands. ‘You got your father’s limbs’, she has always said. Long, beautiful fingers; fingers that look real good with rings on them. Lovely, shapely nails too. ‘You must paint your nails,’ she’d say, ‘they look very attractive’. I’ve preened and preened for so long and took it that my hands were pretty, unlike her knobbly, stocky things. Her nails were also always chipped and so was that occasional coat of nail paint on them.
As I write this, I take the time to look at my own nails. Nope, no shape, no colour on them. Even a little rough on the tips with doing the dishes I suppose. So, these are a mother’s hands, I decide. Hands so full with things to do for her family that a manicure doesn’t even figure on the wish-list. The fingers are still long and pretty, but someone who notices people’s hands might easily overlook them, just as I have overlooked my mother’s for so long.
Now, in a mother’s shoes, I notice her hands – hands that still have those unfilled nails, hands still adorned with two gold bangles that clink ever so familiarly when she rolls out chapattis for dinner. She’s worn them for years now and been singed over and over when they heat up during her chapatti making sessions. She still manages to forget to pull them up before starting. I never thought much of the burns nor of the many other injuries these hands may have suffered in trying to protect me. Her hands have begun to wrinkle now, not just with age but with service - relentless, thankless service. And I see their beauty now. Not sketched on paper, but etched forever in the fondest part of my memories.
What a mother’s hands do second only her heart.
PS: Jishnu has my beautiful hands.