Saturday, October 18, 2008

Motherhood - Dawngi Chawngthu

Lower your voice, Ma
You don't have to shout
So it is now their turn to criticise
Like all children
They find fault
Anyway when did I start raising my voice
I can't seem to remember....

One never learns
Or else how could one explain
Why a rational thinking being
Could repeat the process
Of giving birth
Again and again....

The best part was always the beginning
The pregnancy
The pleasure of anticipation
Even though short-lived
I still cherish the feeling
When I felt truly complete
And didn't really require anyone

Of course all this is forgotten
During the first year of childcare
Spent in a blur of headaches and backaches
Washing ang drying nappies
Snatching fistfuls of naps
Waking up to wails
Of a wet and hungry baby

And the next year
Just when I would begin to feel human again
The whole cycle would repeat itself
So much for glorious motherhood
Today, all I can remember of those times was
An undiluted feeling of envy
Of all mothers with grown up children

But when children are young
The exhaustion is only physical
There are certain pay-offs
Their dependence being your reason
Of being in this world
Looking at their innocent faces while they sleep
Gives you a fierce sense of ownership

And then they grew up
Demanding care and also justice
Through endless accidents
Illness and greivances
I had been their Ma
With power to withhold pocket money
Or give permission to go out

But maybe my time is up now
Their needs and my capacity
To fulfill them have been exhausted
Yes, perhaps in this process
I had started raising my voice
Does one begin to shout
When one starts to lose control?

Dawngi Chawngthu lives and works in Aizawl, Mizoram, and is a happily married mother with four lovely children.

Picture - Mother's Love VI, oil on canvas, by Tlangrokhuma


  1. Perhaps only mothers will really understand this. Well expressed. Its remarkable the poet started shouting only when the kids are grown. I started right from the time they were toddlers.

  2. I have to disagree this time. I'm not a mother but I can still relate pretty well, if not completely, to this piece which the poet herself is very fond of, and I can understand why.

  3. This lady writes so well! She expresses all sentiments perfectly, and in simple English, and yet so beautifully. And she's a Mizo! Kudos to her.

  4. A poem with a flow, awesome.

    Science is for those who learn; poetry, for those who know. – Joseph Roux

  5. a beautiful expression of an experience every mother has gone through...