How My Relationship with My Mother Has Influenced Me as a Student

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My Family Life and My Mother’s Background

      As I burst into the house I could smell that she had already started to sauté the onions; I was late. I rushed into the kitchen – after forcefully tossing my knapsack in my bedroom—and assumed my place: three marble tiles away from my mother. No words were exchanged as I stood and chiffonaded the basil. My mother probably wanted her silence to echo the fact that me being late was unacceptable. After all, we had an unspoken agreement to be home at 5 PM sharp to cook the curry.

This weekly tradition has gone on ever since I could muster up the strength to grind spices with a mortar and pestle. The smells of turmeric and curry powder flood the air every Monday night and always finds a way to nuzzle themselves into the fibers of my cotton dress shirts. Sure the pungent aroma may deviate from the other tide-scented apparels in the hallway, but to me, it is a symbol of the innate bond my mother and I share.

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As I sprinkled the basil onto the slightly charred onions, I grabbed a handful of green chilies and began finely chopping them. At that moment, it dawned on me that I had forgotten to show my mother the reason as to why I was fifteen minutes late. I ran back upstairs, dumped my knapsack onto my bed, and rummaged through its contents. Sufficiently out of breath, I returned to place fresh saffron on the countertop.

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My mother, having forgotten her glasses, held it close to her face as she examined the crimson red strings of the spice. Almost instantly she began tearing up. With eyes watering, she looked at me and explained that growing up in the slums of Sri Lanka she could only dream of affording such a luxury.

At ten years old, my mother was tasked with the job of cooking meals for her entire family. She walked two miles in the scorching heat, wading through serpent-infested waters, to pick a handful of mallum (greens), five sardines, and two red chilies.

Looking back on that night, I understand why my mother cried. I had always thought of her as an adult when in truth, she too is someone’s child. At some point in her life she was also seventeen, but instead of applying to universities, her daily routine was comprised of embarking on a treacherous journey to put food on the table. Her hard work and bravery are the reasons why I’ve been able to experience life as I have, and I aspire to develop my own sense of courage to one day match hers.

Finding Courage and Talking a Stand

Earlier last year my aspiration was put to the test. My high school was rocked by several sexual assault cases, which left our student body divided. Someone had asserted that these issues stemmed from the fact that our administrators accepted minority children –like me—without ‘screening’ properly. I tried to bite my tongue, but as I smelled my dress shirt, smelled the heritage of my mother and her resilience, I knew that something had to be said. So, I spoke out.

I spoke for every student who felt threatened by the school culture that was rapidly growing more antagonistic towards them –-who were suddenly self-conscious that they reeked of their ethnicity—and told them we were not the problem.

The ability and ease my first-world status brings is one that will no longer be taken for granted. My mother’s story will continue to linger in me throughout university and beyond, even after the hint of spices has left my cotton shirts. As I continue to cook on my own, I will constantly be reminded of the love of my mother, the will of my parents, and my ability to use the bravery I derive from them to rise above any obstacles the future may bring.




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How My Relationship with My Mother Has Influenced Me as a Student. (2021, Oct 29). Retrieved from

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