Today, when the world in general and the social media in particular are abuzz with Mother’s Day celebrations, singing paeans in praise of mother and mother hood , I am drawn to a one-act Play , ‘Mother’s Day’ by J B. Priestley which I read in my college days. The play revolves around one Mrs. Pearson , a devout wife and a doting mother who leaves no stone unturned to make her family happy, always slogging it day in and day out doing all chores big and small. This has gone for years and years, with the kids also grown up . Despite all the pains that she undergoes, , no one takes her seriously and takes her for granted. Feeling one day that enough is enough she goes to her neighbour and friend Mrs. Fitzgerald , who besides being a fortune teller is also a magician endowed with occult powers.Mrs. Fitzgerald is exactly the opposite of Mrs . Pearson- authoritative and imperious, whom no one dare slight or disobey. After deliberations and discussions , Mrs. Fitzgerald suggests that they exchange personalities, so that Pearson family could be taught a lesson. All this requires is muttering the magic words “Arshtatta dum—arshtatta lam—arshtatta lamdumbona...”
Now Mrs. Pearson having become Mrs. Fitzgerald and vice versa, things become really difficult for Pearson family . The first surprise is the kids finding their mother smoking. The curt and rude behavior of the new Mrs. Pearson baffles the husband and the kids. Looking from a distance,Mrs.Pearson, in the body of Mrs. Fiztgerald does not relish her kids and husband being subjected to such ‘torture’ The two friends decide to revert to original positions only when convinced that Pearson family has learnt the necessary lesson of not slighting or ignoring Mrs. Pearson or taking her for granted.
The play has also some hilarious moments. There is a clear message that the lady of the house needs being respected, cared for and obeyed .Here the term ‘Mother’s Day’ is used in somewhat negative sense, signifying, retaliation and protest but then, it is the proverbial last straw that breaks the camel’s back. We need more than mere tokenism to acknowledge and appreciate the real worth of mother and motherhood.