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The evolution of superheroes and a midnight revelation

Children are the anchors that hold a mother to life.

— Sophocles

Damsel in distress? Little kiddies in doldrums? Doesn’t matter who the baddies, or what their credentials, are. Emerges out of nowhere the knight in shining armour. Superman or spiderman, or the indigenous breeds, Krrish or Chhota Bheem. You don’t need to tell a toddler the rest of the story!

Our literature and audiovisual fiction are replete with fables of superhuman heroics. Even in a real-world scenario, turn your eyes to that theatre of the evanescent – the Dhyan Chands, the Bolts and the Kohlis often make one wonder if they are off the same mould as the rest of us. In the face of seemingly insurmountable adversity, emerges a superhero. As is often stated, heroes are not born; they are made.

Not so long ago, my three-year-old boy opened my eyes to a striking revelation: we don’t need the visual media to see superheroes. They are just around us; often so near our eyes fail to take note! In a way we are their creators — each one of us give birth to a superhero.

As is customary, his ‘lectures’ and my enlightenments embrace the dark backdrops of the late hours. He goes to sleep with a flu one night and is woken up a few hours later by a bad dream: ‘lecture-time’! Inconsolable breakdown. He himself struggles to figure out what has afflicted him, poor thing. A real crisis at hand.

“Playground! Swing!” he screams after a while. No other go, I step forward to oblige. “Amma,” he asserts. Oh boy! She went to bed just about an hour back, down with a bad viral fever. As expected, unable to hold herself to the bed, the superhero[ine] emerges at the bedroom door, blanket-clad. In a trice, he parks himself in her hands, and she looked all set to hit the playground, when he changed his mind and announced: “Chocolate cake”! Now, where will that come from?

Destination reset. They both disappear behind the portals of that mysterious wonderland called the kitchen. One minute. Two minutes. Five minutes. Silence of the midnight shattered by his intermittent clamour. Then an aroma fills the living room. I walk into the kitchen incredulously. “Instant cake-mix!”, she whispers in an attempt to curb my surprise. Two bites of that, and he has changed his mind again: “momos!”

The cat-and-mouse game continued. Demands kept changing along with the minute-hand of the clock. A second wind seemed to have rendered her additional hands. As I stood there in sheer disbelief, she continued to oblige him with a composed countenance that seemed to be telling him. ‘Son, I know you are sick. I can hear it when your heart misses a beat. I just cannot let you cry, not for want of food; nor for want of care...’

After a few rounds, as his distress gradually settled down, he receded into deep slumber. Reminiscent of the fictional superheroes whose powers wither away at the conclusion of hard-fought battles, she limped back to the bed and crumbled under the blanket. As I marvelled at the super-heroic metamorphosis of an ordinary lady that my wife used to be, the unfaded snapshots of the unsung saga of yet another superheroine flashed before my eyes — my own mother.

Every loving mother is a superhuman incognito, capable of instantaneous transformation from the depths of physical infirmities to the acme of agility. And the everlasting fuel that energises her to wage the often-overlooked unrewarding heroics can be nothing other than the inundating nectar of pure love — unadulterated, unconditional and selfless.

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Printable version | Jun 11, 2021 10:56:33 PM |

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