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It is another Sunday afternoon. My father and I have just returned from the gym. I can barely feel my legs as I lower myself onto the floor, by the sofa where my mother is seated. She is perusing the newspapers for the day- her morning ritual, reading out parts of articles that amuse her.

It is the 8th of May 2016.

This time last year, my mother was fighting for her life in the CCU Unit in a derelict hospital in Varanasi. I was away at that time, traveling through the less explored parts of China. I only knew about her condition when I landed in Singapore several days later. I still remember receiving the call from my father, telling me to make the necessary arrangements to come down as soon as possible because he didn’t know if my mother was going to make it.

I was 24 years old, and my mother was dying in a hospital very far away from me.

There are some moments in your existence where life makes sure that you are aware of your priorities very, very quickly. It is like a shock to your system – a violent, tumultuous shift of tectonic plates somewhere deep inside your soul that forces you to remember exactly what is important in life, exactly what matters most.

My life has been filled with those moments, and most of them have to do with my mother. To cut a long story short, I made it to India in time, my mother eventually made it out alive, and here we are today, her methodically reading her papers, and me sitting on the floor after a hectic morning workout.

My mother mispronounces a word and I quickly correct her, my voice laced with irritation. This is not an unusual occurence.

I wrote several days ago that I am very unforgiving of home. What I really meant to say was, I am very unforgiving of my mother. I expect perfection from her, in her deeds and in her thoughts, because to me, my mother is the pinnacle. She’s it. If she falters, then what more can one expect from mere mortals, random strangers, friends?

(A deeper fear is, if she falters, then what more can I expect from myself, her daughter, who is so far removed from all that she is?)

I don’t know how to rationalise these expectations. So instead, I unleash my derision on her. Picking on her for little things. Getting angry when there is no reason to be. Etc. Etc.

You would think that as someone who has nearly lost her mother several times in her life, I would have more perspective (what happened last year is just the tip of the iceberg that is my mother’s fantastical, almost miraculous life). But, I forget. It is easy to take for granted someone who gives unconditionally. It is easy to take for granted someone who is so good at what she does, and who she is – be it keeping the house clean, managing the finances, having excellent aesthetic sense, giving advice, etc – that it is easy to forget that she too is human, with her mood swings, her good and bad days, her insecurities, her infinite human complexes.

It is easy to let the little things cloud the bigger picture.

This period since I’ve been back home has been an exciting, sometimes turbulent, mostly joyful experience of getting to know my mother as the woman she is. It has been a journey of rediscovery, and a renewal of a relationship that has seen its fair share of wear and tear. It has been a journey of detaching enough to understand that my mother is her own woman, as much as I am my own woman. Our personalities are very similar, and yet, so different. Acknowledging the similarities and taking pride in that has been my journey. Acknowledging the differences and accepting that her daughter is her own person, has been her journey.

On most days, we meet in the middle, and laugh at each other. On other days, we yell at each other, our quick tempers rising to the fore and abating, with one of us eventually conceding and raising the peace flag.

And so life goes on, my mother and I walking our paths together, yet separate.

And today, there is only gratitude, that we have both arrived at this together, and that we will both continue together.

What more can any daughter ask for?

Happy Mother’s Day, dearie. For everything that you are, and for everything you’ve taught me to be.

 

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Musings.

***

I suppose one thing remains true:

We are all afraid of getting hurt.
We are all afraid of putting ourselves in a position where we can be rejected by another; when the reactions to this rejection are beyond what we have carefully planned for ourselves.
We are afraid of losing control.
I have realised that the person who needs my own advice the most, is me.
“Learn to let go”
“Give up these expectations that you have of other people”
“Remember that no one person can plug the love-holes (no, not that one, the others) in your life.”
“You cannot wait be waiting for absolutes all your life”
“The search for perfection is futile”.
Etc, etc.
Sometimes, I forget that the words I keep repeating oft are not the ones that others need to hear; these are the words that I need to internalise more, to believe more, so that maybe, I will feel better, feel better about
the fear
the loneliness
the rejection
the possibility of happiness
or otherwise.
There are no coincidences in life.
People don’t come and go from our lives by chance. The roles they have to play have  come a full circle – the necessary exchanges have been rightfully conducted. Exit stage left, because a new beginning is waiting, waiting to enter.
Learn to let things go with grace.
Learn to invite people in with grace.
Learn that hurt too, is made better with grace.

Of memories, and thoughts, and days, and this life –

***

Last week – a documentary that ripped at the insides and asked what does it mean to be a woman, where big words like indigenous and minority rights lay like fine haze in a dark air conditioned room, where at midnight, we talked about being women, and how there was no generalisation, there could never be a generalisation on behaviour, because your woman is very different from my woman, but together, women, we love, we need, and we will help and support one another. That night, for the one hour that sleep visited, dreams so dark of intestines spilling out, a girl’s tears, and a mother’s disappointment. Women.

A few days ago – 3.5 years later, a reunion, but is it really a reunion when the friendship had always been there, where the cord of love had always remained, pulsating some days brighter, some days, not so bright, but always, always, present. 3.5 years later, when conversation flowed around Truth, and memories, and a smile so bright, and a declaration: I am happy. I cannot write, I have not written, but I am happy. Maybe, because, there was no more sadness to fuel the words, maybe, the process, the business of living had taken all the emotions and set them aside for a while – rest, says life. Know me first. Then, the words will come. That night, for the one hour that sleep visited, dreams of swarthy hands, and wine, and salt, and a shade of tea that I can never forget but with only two sugars, and the goodbye, but with love, with love, the finality, after 3.5 years.

Yesterday – the colours of red and fractured orange making patterns behind the film of incense that twirled and caressed and rose into the dark, somewhere into white ceiling, with the sound of waves, crashing, furious, furious, continuously crashing, a medley of arriving and retreating, a little like two people, a little like two hearts, a lot like two mouths, the red, the deep red of bruised, the deep red of a wall hanging, the deep red of a spot on the map, the deep red of wine, and inside, silence. That night, for the first time, in a long time, sleep.

Sometimes, just sometimes, there is some good in having insomniac musings. 

***

That’s the thing about love. 

You never know when it is going to come into your life, sometimes, so softly that you have no idea that it has arrived, until it has settled into your skin, a light weight. You realise that your eyes are a little brighter, that your smile has started to reach your eyes again, that you are lost in thought about his eyes, his hands, the way he smiled at you that one (and only) night, his smell. You realise that you tremble when you say his name, because name is power, and a name that has so much meaning, so much importance in your life, becomes an echo in your mouth that doesn’t quite go away. You realise all these things, and you wonder when it happened, and you can never quite pinpoint the exact moment. 

It has happened. There is nothing else left to do but to live with it. Nurture it. Accept it. Let the love mould you, as you mould love. There’s no other way about it. It is a beautiful surrender, but nothing short of a surrender will allow for survival.

That’s the thing about love. It finds you when you least expect it. And by the time you realise what has happened, you’re caught. The best part is, you know there is no where else you’d rather be. 

Following a series of love letters I have written here, and here:

There are some things I want to tell you.

I want to tell you that after I met you, I was reminded of all the ways that loving someone could hurt the insides, and the outsides.

I want to tell you that I expected more from you; you who write and speak as if you understand the world and its people, you who communicate as if you understand your pain and the pain of others, you, with your worldly ways. I want to tell you that I expected you to be less selfish, and be the person I thought you were.

I want to tell you that I am sad that I don’t know what happens in your everyday anymore, and that sometimes, I don’t care enough to be sad about this. That saddens me even further. I want to tell you that.

I want to tell you that on some days, I can still remember the way you kissed me. I want to tell you that on some days, this reminder makes me happy, and that on some days, this reminder makes me terribly sad.

I want to tell you that I am angry that I am sad.

I want to tell you that I am angry that you are so selfish that you have not seen my sadness, or asked after it.

I want to tell you that I did not deserve to be treated with your silence, and that you, intellectual being that you are, have failed in your wiseness in treating another human person, and that this makes me lose my respect for you a little.

I want to tell you that you are not on a pedestal any longer.

I want to tell you that I felt like I was not good enough for you, since the day I left you, because you never talked about what happened between us, and because you never bothered to ask how I felt about it all. I want to tell you that I am angry at myself for allowing you to  make me feel this way. And I want to tell you that that hurts the worst, that my relationship with myself has soured because of the relationship I wanted to have with you.

I want to tell you that I don’t want to waste our friendship, but most times, friendships have to be earned, and I don’t have the goodwill I think I need to be magnanimous with you at this stage in my life.

I want to tell you that I hope some day, something will change inside of you and you will not treat someone else the way you treated me.

I want to tell you that I love you, and perhaps, that is the best and the worst thing about all of this, that I cannot turn off my feelings the way I can turn off a phone.

Yes, there are some things I want to tell you.