Immortal Stories: Shyam’s Mother

Last year’s IFFI in Goa has a special guest. Vanamala-bai a lady approaching probably her 90 years. She was the lady who immortalised one of the most read stories in marathi literature of yester years as well as today.

Shyam’s Mother or Shyamachi aai was a bestselling book in marathi literature for years. It was written by Pandurang Sadashiv Sane, a Gadhian. He wrote it when he was in Jail. He narrated his fellow prisoners stories of his mother. How his mother brought him, how she imbibed in him the priciples of humanity and compassion.

In the era of Mom and Dad ayee baba might sound a little outdated but the story believe me is something you can still relate to. Remember how unwilling we were to cut our hair as a kid? Or the drying up exercise after a bath? Those were the tiny moment little shyam lived with his mom.

The story was brought on Silver screen by a great Marathi Orator, Politician and Author Pralhad Keshav Atre. The movie won India’s first presidents gold medal for Movies.

Little Shyam grows up in a brahmin family which as usual is very poor. He has many brothers and sisters and a grandmother too. For little shyam he can not pait things in black and white. For his innocent mind everything is good, things which he cant understand he asks his mom.

His father, as Shyam perceives is a strict man, but occasionally he does feel the softness in his emotions. We all grow up with similar feelings and outlook towards our life. the day when one of his brother dies because of a trivial desease, shyam’s mom tells him that he has become a star in the sky.

His mom being a central character is not the typical indian lady shown in other stories. She never grumbles to her husband nor she talks about the hardship she has to face. Not a single word. But things are conveyed that she had to suffer a lot.

There is a scene where in Shaym and his Dad are at lunch. As per the tradition women during that time use to eat after everyone in family had finished. And if nothings remains she would pretend that is was her fasting day. Shyam relaised the truth when he grew up. During lunch his mom asks his dad how was a particular vegetable dish. He praises it saying it was great. But when shyam tastes it he finds that she had forgotten to put salt in it.

When he questions his dad why he lied he says “your mom works day and night and we can give anything in return to her except a word of praise, lack of salt is very trivial compared to the efforts she has put in for our family”.

Shyam grows up and like all teenagers he develops a superiority feelings. He joins an english medium school far away fro mhis village. Their financial position is as bad as it can be. His father one day arrives in the school with the tender milk of a just conceived cow. Looking at his old fashioned and poor dressing Shyam feels ashamed to meet him in front of his friends. His father is so happy that he calls all his friends and asks shaym to share the milk with them. Later when he realizes Shyams feelings he feels hurt.

The stroy ends with Shyam’s family going bankrupt. His mom dies looking at that sight. Shyam returns home in despair. The feeling that he could give her anything in return hurts him all his life. She never ever spoke to him about the dreams she had dreamt for him. Shyam begins his new journey without her to become a Gandhian.

All of Sane’s stories are essentially tragedies. His most of the literature was meant for kids. Literary value of which was beyond all debates however critics said that his literature was full of negative thoughts and extremes of sacrificies which could affect young minds. Any ways I dont think children still read his books anymore.

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