two indian women in traditional dress. one is wearing blue and standing next to the other who is seated on a couch and dressed in a gold color

‘My Mother and Grandmother Constantly Inspire Our Family’

two indian women in traditional dress. one is wearing blue and standing next to the other who is seated on a couch and dressed in a gold color

The author’s mother and grandmother. (Courtesy of Anushka Devanathan)

Commentary, Anushka Devanathan

My mother is my inspiration. She isn’t just an inspiration for me; she is a role model for my entire family. Growing up in India, she spent most of her childhood traveling across the country for her father’s job. When she graduated from college, she continued to travel and explore the globe before marrying my father and settling down in California. In my opinion, moving around so much at a young age gave my mother one of her best qualities, her strength. 

Everyone in our family relies on our mother, but sometimes, it’s easy to forget how much pressure that puts on her, carrying the load of an entire family. Nevertheless, she never lets that stop her and always puts her best effort into everything she does. Another admirable trait of my mom is her reliability. No matter what, I can trust my mom to do something, and even if she can’t, I know beforehand, so I’m never left hanging. She juggles her job as a software engineer and her role as a mother and is always there to support our family without ever missing a beat.

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What I look up to my mother most for is her talent to blend her roles as my mom and my best friend. She always fulfills her responsibilities, but when it’s time to have fun, she completely embraces the moment. My mom believes in balance, which is especially important for our family. Whenever we gather as a family, my mom sets the mood and always makes everyone feel comfortable.

I think she gets that balance from her mother.

My maternal grandmother grew up in an old-fashioned household. She had five other siblings, three of which were her brothers. Her parents believed that their sons would bring success and prosperity to their home, compared with their daughters who were supposed to marry quickly and not focus on education. Despite these challenges, my grandmother became the first person in their family to go to college. She earned herself a gold medal in a Bachelor of Science in biology, and was the top of her university, before getting married. 

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My grandmother is also a wonderful cook and is experienced in making traditional Indian dishes. Food always brings people together, and our family is no exception. A single meal made by my grandmother helps our family remember the importance of family dining, which is sometimes overlooked in the rush of our daily life.

During our family visits to India, my grandmother ensures to take us to Indian weddings and other traditional gatherings. As a child, I enjoyed these times immensely. I would get to wear a fancy dress and jewelry and dine on Indian delicacies. Having a major sweet tooth, I enjoy traditional Indian sweets like Kaju Katlis, Jalebi and Gulab Jamun. Another popular dish often served at weddings is Biryani, which is made with Basmati rice and flavored with different spices, like turmeric, cardamom, and more. It is traditionally made with mutton and can be made with chicken as well. 

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Growing older taught me to appreciate these gatherings for another reason. My grandmother used these moments to provide us with opportunities to connect with our extended family. Living in America means that we are distanced from the rest of our extended family who live in India, which makes these celebrations vital for connecting with not only family, but our roots and culture

My mother and grandmother constantly inspire our family. When times get tough, they provide us with confidence and motivation, letting us know that we are powerful.

Their combined belief in us as a family has guided us through challenges in the past and will continue to in the future.

Looking back on my family, I was reminded of how much my mother and grandmother do to keep us together. It is not easy taking care of this family, but their hard work shows their dedication to it. With their combined efforts and support, they truly are the rocks of our family.

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