Mummy, dearest? – A heartfelt open letter to my late mother!

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You taught me how to live, but not how to live without you!

Dear Amma,

Five years ago, on Mother’s Day, I wrote to you about one of my biggest fears: losing you. Today, I write a letter again, about my journey since I last saw you.

It’s funny how I remember the smallest things about you – how your little finger would stick out when you held your cup of coffee, how your voice would soften when you’d kiss me good night, or how you would smile with all your pearly whites showing. And yet, I do not seem to recollect what I have read in the news today.

One memory stands out among the many that crowd my mind – our last one. All of seventeen and all alone in this world, I watched as two strangers tried so hard to keep you alive. I knew your last breath was only a few seconds away. I wanted to do something. How do you simply say goodbye to someone who has loved you all your life? So, I sang Ma, I sang to you. I sang to you your favorite song. I sang to you that one song which you made me sing like a broken record player because you enjoyed listening to me sing it. That song, of which I had grown so tired of, suddenly came flowing out of my mouth, along with my tears. My voice was choking and my lips were wet from the tears, but I continued to sing. “Hey Govinda! Hey Gopala! Raho Charan Hamari! Ab To Jeevan Haari!” (Oh Lord! Please protect us! My life is now approaching its end!)

I didn’t know the meaning of the song at that time; Aunt J told me later. That’s when I realized what a deep song it is. I think it must have been comforting to you, to be told it’s okay to let go. I only hope you were able to listen to it subconsciously, Amma. I want them to be the last words you would have heard.

Me, on the other hand, I don’t even recollect what you told me last. It was all so sudden. These are things that happen in the news – not to us. Who expects to see the person with whom you had cookies ‘n’ cream ice-cream, with whom you fought over the laundry, with whom you discussed with passion the beautiful comparison between God and Mathematics – to die a few hours later? I am glad I don’t have to relive that day again.

I would like to believe that I have come a long way – five years is a long time. I don’t cry over it every night nor do I burst into tears when I see your photos. But, your absence catches me off-guard. It is those times when I suddenly get a fleeting glance at memories once considered happy. When I watch a mother and daughter chatting away cheerfully with tubs of ice-cream in front of them, I feel jealous. Or, when I go shopping, I realize there is no one to tell me if I can pull off that peplum blouse. Remember the times when we would go for walks around the lake? I don’t even work out anymore. Sometimes, there are no reasons at all – none whatsoever.

And what about the landmark events in my life where you’re supposed to be standing beside me, a proud hand on my shoulder? Your absence was ripping my heart as I posed for pictures during my CA Convocation. The sweet sound of the credit of my first salary did not excite me but was rather saddening. And, what about the future? When I’m a leader? When I get married? When I become a mother? You wouldn’t be there.

But you know what, Ma? When I miss you too much, I remind myself that you are in me. You live in my genes, my blood, and my heart. I think like you, I talk like you and I write like you. I look at my fingers and realize they are just the same as yours. I look at my ears and realize they have the same ‘bitten look’, just as yours. I look at my handwriting and realize that the slants of the ‘t’s, the circular tittle of the ‘i’s, and the thin curves of my ‘g’s are the same as yours.

And then I realize, you were never truly gone. In some form or the other, you are always there for me, Amma. Though I may not be able to hug you again, I am content with knowing that you will always be there for me.

Happy Mother’s Day ma. I hope you’re proud of me.

Love,

Padma