04 Jun Om and Ma
Asha sat on her grandma’s lap and watched as her mother tickled her baby brother Soroush.
Soroush had just learned to say his first word.
Asha’s dad had run to the kitchen to grab his phone. Mom was so excited that she wanted to record Soroush’s first word and send it to the whole family.
“Grandma, did Mom and Dad do that for my first word?”
“Of course Kishmish,” Grandma said.
She called Asha “Kishmish” out of love; it means raisin in Hindi. Asha loves raisins.
“I remember sitting with your grandpa when your mom sent me the video. You were sitting in her lap, wearing that little blue frock we got you. Your grandpa said it sounded like you were singing it.”
Grandpa had passed away a couple years ago, and Grandma had moved into the house. Asha missed Grandpa, but she was very happy to have Grandma living with them. She loved hearing Grandma’s stories and spending time with her.
Dad was recording now.
“Look Grandma!” Asha said. “He’s doing what I was doing! Singing!”
“Of course my dear,” Grandma said, “he’s your brother.”
Then a thought occurred to Asha. “Grandma, why is ‘Ma’ a baby’s first word?”
Grandma looked at Asha. “Well Kishmish, what is the first word we say when we pray?”
Asha thought about it. “‘Om’, we say ‘Om’.”
“Do you know why we say it?” Grandma asked.
“Because we are supposed to?”
Grandma laughed. “Although it’s important to say ‘Om’ in prayer, it’s not because we have to. It’s because it’s the sound of life and everything that exists.”
“Oh.” Asha didn’t understand.
“Ma!” Soroush shouted.
“Can you say ‘Dad’?” Dad was holding Soroush now.
Grandma could tell Asha didn’t understand. “Kishmish, say ‘Om’.”
Asha looked at Grandma. “Why? We aren’t doing prayer.”
“Trust me,” Grandma said. “Say ‘Om’ for as long as you can and then open your mouth.”
“Oooooooooooommmmmmmmm-A!” At first, Asha couldn’t believe it.
So she did it again.
“Ooooommmmmmmmmmmmmm-A! Grandma! When I open my mouth it sounds like ‘Ma’!”
“Yes, Kishmish. Do you know why?” Grandma asked.
“‘Om’ is the vibration of life. It lives in all of us, like a song. And you’re old enough to know who gives us life, right?”
“Ma!” Asha said.
“Maaaaaaa!” Soroush echoed.
“Ma,” Grandma said. “A mother is everything to a child. Before a child knows itself it knows who Ma is. So the first word a child speaks is the name of the divine mother and father who brought it into this world.”
Asha smiled. She loved Grandma’s stories, but she knew that maybe it’s wasn’t fully true. Yet as she looked at her mother smiling at Soroush, she couldn’t help but feel there had to be some truth to it. Grandma took Asha and sat down next to her mom.
“‘Dad’, can you say ‘Dad’?” Dad was still playfully trying to get Soroush to say his second word.
“Mmmmmmmaaaaaaaa!” Soroush giggled.
Today belonged to Ma.