Governor Syed Ahmed with his mother Syed Sabra Khatoon in Ranchi on Thursday. Picture by Prashant Mitra
On his 69th birthday on Thursday, as the who’s who of Jharkhand made a beeline at Raj Bhavan to wish him, the man of the moment in question, governor Syed Ahmed, proudly wore his mamma’s boy tag on his sleeve.
Governor Ahmed sought blessings from his 107-year old mother Sabra Khatoon. It’s well known among his close circle that nothing gives the governor as much pleasure as sitting with his Amma.
Khatoon’s lined face lit up in a smile as Jharkhand’s First Citizen Ahmed entered her room. Sitting on her bed, the lady, clad in a cotton salwar suit, dupatta on her forehead, stretched out her arms to bless him.
Softly, she asked him if everyone wished him on his birthday. Then, she asked him if he had said prayers and remembered to be kind to all.
To put matters in perspective, Khatoon, one of India’s rare centenarians, is six years older than International Women’s Day, to be celebrated for the 101st time on Saturday.
She was born when Mahatma Gandhi had just started his satyagraha in South Africa.
Ahmed feels a mother’s lessons are the best university a man could go to.
“A mother’s lessons can’t be found in classroom lectures or management books. A person who respects his mother will respect all women,” the governor said.
As a child in a Lucknow village, his mother had told him four things that deeply influenced the then playful boy.
“Never lie, always be honest, earn with honesty and never be greedy. If you follow these four tenets, you won’t be in trouble,” Ahmed recalled his mother saying.
On crimes and atrocities against women, he added mothers had a big role to play. “The onus lies on mothers to teach children to differentiate between right and wrong, irrespective of gender. A child, boy or girl, needs to learn the right values from childhood.”
In his 43 years of political career, Ahmed, one among five brothers and three sisters, never parted from his mother.
“She’s my anchor and moral compass. I take her blessings before leaving and on coming back. When I am in Ranchi, I meet her every morning,” he said.
Modern-day nuclear families, where old parents are treated as a liability, can learn a thing or two from Ahmed. “Spend time with your mother. What else does a mother want from her children?” he said.
As a three-time minister in Maharashtra and a Governor in Jharkhand, Ahmed is no stranger to power. But if he’s stood rooted all these decades, he thanks his mother. “It’s her values and teachings that have stood me in good stead through my public life,” he said.
Characteristically, the scholarly Ahmed ends with a couplet. “Na jane kaun duaon mein yaad rakhta hai, main doobta hun samandar uchhal deta hai (Wonder who remembers me in prayers, because when I drown, the ocean buoys me afloat).”
No prizes for guessing who the governor referred to.
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