Dear Badi mamma,
After so long, as I sat down writing, did I recall those happy days you, daddy and I spent when I was a little girl; got the same fuzzy feeling as if I was in that happy place right now…
I remember waking up to the strains of gurbani on Doordarshan when you switched on the TV every Sunday at 8 am.
When you held me in your arms in the cold winter mornings as I lazed savouring hot bournvita with you coaxing me to get up and get ready for school.
Chomping on ghee soaked toast with chat masala sprinkled on it as I ran for the school bus.
How you allowed me to have ice cream only at weddings because you were convinced they weren’t as cold as the one’s the ice-cream waala brought out from his cart.
Your insistence that I finished my homework right after school and lunch and your sigh of resignation when you couldn’t contain that 8-year-old from dashing out of the house precisely at 4 every evening to go out and play.
For as long as you could you would wait near our house gate for me to return, when I was small, from play and when older, from work… the day you stopped doing that I wondered if you started loving me loved me a little less from that moment on… Now I know better; you stopped lingering at the gate because papa insisted you waited inside. From that day you waited on that sofa.
I love the fact that I can still manage to bring that smile on your face when you see me. I wish you would stop asking for me at dinner, because I can’t join you, even though I wish I could.
I never told you this but I have never slept as peacefully as all the times I slumbered huddled next to you, dozing off as you sat reciting kirtan sohele ji da path.
Oh for the days when I sat sucking on cold sugarcane cubes as you, daddy and I basked in the winter sun on the terrace. I remember being on the receiving end of that stern stare when I fumbled at my multiplication tables. Heh heh… you would be proud to know that I can still recite them without a hitch till 13, but the going’s not so great after that. I always wondered how you did all that math so effortlessly in your head. Numbers still scare me, not that I am going to confess that to you.
You actually made exams fun, because you made sure I did well and all those A’s gave me quite a head rush. Thankfully you made sure I never became the snivelling kid who cried at a 99.
And then came the holidays. I loved packing up the house for two months when we went to visit mom and dad and then coming back from the railway station on a bus at night…sleeping on your lap as we rode bus route no. 854.
Gosh, I was such a brat, ma… how you pampered me. You might wonder how I can still recall this but I do; cycling around the house and making a pit stop at your favourite sofa seat to have you feed me as I went round and round. Fried eggs and bread weren’t they? By the way I am still trying to shed the excess weight that diet bestowed on me. No wonder I have these wide hips! Another of your legacies, other than the caustic tongue, fiery temper, honesty, the need to be fair and just: all things I love about myself and you. Of course I hope to one day realise that I have your fortitude and strength locked up somewhere inside and can draw upon them when the time comes.
On the subject of food and so, cooking. I never understood why you sat atop the kitchen counter in that ancient kitchen of ours when you cooked chapattis for us, and the pooda and chawal ke paranthe.
You loved feeding people, didn’t you, especially your sons-in-law who you fawned over then when they came for a visit, which also meant you made your famous egg curry! Pity you never tasted it, being a vegetarian. How did you survive in our carnivorous household?
Nonetheless, when it was just the three of us, you made sure that I had my weekly tandoori chicken and campa cola treat. Gosh, that reminds me, remember daddy’s next day's experiment with chicken bone soup! Only he could drink it and I can still see you shaking your head at him.
I am sorry for the number of times I scared you by falling sick. I may have downed medicines by the dozen at the time to get well but for me it was the comfort of your warm embrace that brought me out of my fevers. Most times you made sure you uttaroed boori nazar off me. Those mirchis seemed lethal, but you knew your stuff.
Then there were Gurupurabs and the amazing langar at C2 ka gurudwara every time.
I still remember your bat girl spectacles perched pert on those intelligent eyes as you reprimanded me for a mistake. What a precocious child I was, running away with that mouth of mine. At the time you made sure I got an occasional whack, later, of course, you went about sharing those anecdotes with anyone who would listen. And you know what, I think you had a hint of pride in your voice when you retold those stories.
Your red hand bag that you carried everywhere.
Your obsession with locking down the house like a fortress before going to sleep every night, another trait I picked up from you.
Mamma, I wish I could go back to those happy days and stay cocooned in their warmth. I wish it was easy to let go of the need to regress into those days. To move on and give the present a chance. It is not easy, not at all.
Those days seem like a whole different world now. In the transition from “p” peun to Peru ji, life’s taken a whole new meaning. Responsibilities, heart aches, decisions, duties, but most of all distance, of geography and heart and from the simple faith that you were a super woman to accepting that you too have your frailties.
I wish that if I ever have children they’d be as happy as I was, that they would love their grandparents as I love you and daddy. I know with that would come a heart ache such as mine… but I guess it’s worth the love they would experience and get in exchange.
Thank you for making dad who he is and for letting mom become a part of the family and for making me who I am. Couldn’t love you more, for all that you gave me and for being you.
Can’t wait to meet you. Please get well soon.