Fiona Fernandez: Mom's not the word

The mindless commodification of Mother’s Day seems to have diluted the bond between mother and child

This particular press release took the cake. It was an all-day package encouraging weight-conscious daughters to bring their equally weight-conscious mums for all kinds of sessions, from spinning to zumba and aerobics. Phew. Reading the four-line emailer made us break into a sweat. Whatever happened to the good, old-fashioned morning walk in the park or by the seashore?

The commercial importance of this ‘special day’ had us presswallahs reeling for nearly a month. The innovations and hype around it made us believe that daughters with the moolah and a bit of clout could’ve made it to the Moon with mommy dearest.

Options ranged from the outrageous (fly a kite) to bizarre (cosplay session) to saner (baking session and poetry reading). And then there were the smart branding kinds, where companies tugged at the heartstrings by connecting with NGOs for events where mums would ‘volunteer’ to spend the day with lesser privileged kids who didn’t have mums. We were stunned at this insensitive gift-wrapping of a special bond. What about the remaining 364 days of the year?

All of this left a numbing buzz in the head. Sure, spas and Italian lunches are all very nice-sounding, but the day, just like V-day and rest seems to have been reduced to a tamasha. And a competition too, going by this slice-of-life episode on Mumbai’s local trains. “…But how do I throw in the mother-daughter tarot card reading session in between buffet lunch and use up those shopping vouchers during happy hours at the mall, and meet Rahul for a few drinks later? Too much pressure...” cribbed a teenaged collegian to her friend during their commute a few days back. “You’ll manage, yaar…just ask your mum to go shopping by herself.” Going by the sense of relief on the harried girl’s face, she might have actually heeded the advice.

At that moment, just for kicks, we hit flashback mode to the days of Doordarshan, and grainy black-and-white images to prod if such celebrations around mothers ever took centrestage. There was none. Instead, Nirupa Roy’s role as the archetypal Indian mother, glycerin tears and all, in the big Sunday Hindi film screening on the telly left an impression. We thought a bit harder, and 1980s TV commercials did a good job in projecting mothers of all kinds – from the gutsy Lalitaji of the washing powder commercial to the “My mummy’s strongest!” tagline for another commercial. But that was it. Breakfast, lunch, dinner, and unadulterated quality time; and perhaps, a handmade card or one of those shimmery options thrown in from Archies. You’ve come a long way, mommy.

Next up. Father’s Day. Vintage Cuban cigar sets autographed by Fidel Castro, we’re guessing.

mid-day’s Features Editor Fiona Fernandez relishes the city’s sights, sounds, smells and stones...wherever the ink and the inclination takes her. She tweets @bombayana. Send your feedback to mailbag@mid-day.com

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