There was a mother in the next compartment. I never saw her throughout the journey. I did not need to see her. From her words (in Malayalam), I could figure out that she had two children, both girls, I think.

There was also a large group of people from Andhra, on a family vacation. There was a lot of noise and commotion as this group made sure they were all comfortable and settled in their respective berths. At around ten, things became silent and the lights were turned out. I could hear her clearly then. Not just I, most of the Malayalis in the neighbouring seats could hear her, pleading, threatening, warning one of her daughters to come down from the top berth. ‘You will fall down, come down’, ‘Either lie down with your sister or come to the lower berth with me’ were repeated several times in different ways. She also muttered threats to beat the little one if she didn’t obey. This went on for a long time. I was sure the entire rest of the coach, as far as her sound carried, was silent and paying attention, forming judgements of their own. I saw that little girl the next morning, she must have been three or four years old. She did look like an adamant little one.

I can imagine the thoughts that ran through the minds of many Malayalis in the train that night.
Why can’t that mother just let the poor girl be?
Why can’t she stop yelling at her?
Why doesn’t she even remember that she is in a train and people are listening?
Why does she threaten the little girl so?
And other mothers like me, who have experience travelling with children, must have thought, She’s travelling with two little girls. She must be tired and probably just wants to lie down and rest. Maybe she is longing to reach her home in the morning and relax. She is afraid the little girl who is lying in the top berth would fall down from the height and hurt herself. She wishes that the little girl would stop embarrassing her in front of everyone and just listen for once in her life.

After a while there was silence, probably the little girl decided to obey, probably they came to some settlement.

It’s very difficult to understand mothers. It is easier to blame them and accuse them of yelling at their children or even beating them.
Mothers don’t like shouting at their children or punishing them. Sometimes all they want is peace of mind.

This post is dedicated to that mother in the train, and many more mothers like her.