Closure

Dear Amma,

Happy birthday. For a change, a series was dedicated to you and you weren’t there to see it. I couldn’t stand in front of the images for even a minute, everything rushed back and made it difficult for me to remain steady. But this should bring me some closure and hopefully, I should let go, of everything before, I get very sick. Hid behind my mask, the way I hide behind my camera, deriving comfort from the distance it creates between crowds and myself or the way SC hides behind SB. If they thought my walls were fortresses earlier, they should try talking to me, now.

I miss you…miss your body more than you can imagine, not in an incestuous way. Incest makes me digress but this is hilarious. I was watching Badhai Do, with Dad and Rajkumar’s character is gay, so to avoid marriage he tells his parents-‘I’m in love with a Muslim woman’ , playing on the prejudice of his family. So Dad burst into peels of laughter and asked me, ‘are you sure, you don’t like women, that’s why you’re not getting married and these Muslim boys around you are all just to keep us distracted because you think no one will agree? I’m agreeing beta, you bring anyone!’ It’s like no one understands that living with someone scares the shit out of me, whether he’s a Sikh man or a Muslim man or even a woman for that matter, ewww, to constant physical proximity…no can do!

Anyway, back to the point. I miss your hugs, your kisses and lying on your tummy for hours. Why don’t men feel like you and your son? But your sister does! She came down especially for us, it was the sweetest thing and I wanted to hold her forever but I was worried she would get freaked out. Had an amazing time with her. Missed you at dinner the other day. It would have been nice if you had been there, too. Masi gave me some mothering, not like you, you were a bit of a baby but like two adults having a conversation about life, what’s it like to be a woman, sweet at times, encouraging and yet stern. She said the kindest words of encouragement. She told me stories of you about Tullika. I always forget the other doll’s name and how you loved to dress me up just the way you dressed up your dolls. If you were to see me these days, you would immediately disown me. Went to parlour after many months and got fired by Kalpana didi. ‘Mama ko dekha tha na apne kitna dhyaan rakhti thi!’ She said the sweetest thing after that- ‘ Ma’am you’re a very lucky woman. Only sons get the privilege of taking care of their parents. God has blessed you, that’s why you got so much time with your mum. My mother had two daughters but it was my sister who got that privilege because I was in Delhi.’ She always talks about you and I’m a sucker for anyone who does that.

Oh PD, had such sweet things to say about you, as well. How you took her shopping when she was a teenager and then SK showed me the first gift you gave her. Of course since morning, I’ve been getting such lovely messages for you. Even before I woke, there was a message from RB for you on my phone and NB, sent a message a Facebook. Then umpteen messages from your nieces and nephews. Acchi thi na tu. Me? The world will forget in two hours. Dad keeps telling me I will rot in my basement alone and I tell him, the plan is to die on the highway to Kashmir, after the Banihal tunnel, when there’s a nip in the air and the music is right, death can take me anytime it wants and strangers can bury me. My favourite people will be waiting.

Amma

It’s been two years since you left, to be with your favourite child. Please don’t bother to deny it, he was my favourite person, too. It’s been eventful…is that an understatement? Have you enjoyed the show from your vantage point? Me too, tortuous but come on! our love for the dramatics makes everything entertaining!

I sat across the doc at Kolmet, the other day and as he tried to figure out the root cause of my high diastolic levels…when I answered all his questions he looked at me in all seriousness and said, ‘ if after two years, just talking about your mother makes you this emotional, you require intervention!’ Cute, all the therapy in the world, ain’t fixing this head. You and my men would vouch for that, did you all not try every trick in the book to fix me? Some people aren’t fixable, they’re broken in a different way. ‘ I’m alright, plus I am in therapy!’ I replied. Of course, he tried to get me on a sedative, of course, no freaking chance in hell, one is getting on that.

But I thought about it later. Mourning is a privilege, that’s not really granted to us. It’s a gift we give ourselves, if we can take out time from our lives, away from the fear of death, pain and longing, to truly cry over someone. To grieve the part of us which has died with them. Like the part of me, which will never be able to smell that particular fragrance of yours (which has evaporated from your clothes, by the way) – a mix of talcum powder, pee, age and pears….there’ll be no stomach I can lie on for hours, doing nothing. Or the part which will never have anyone standing at the door, singing, ‘ oye meri Gudiya, oyee, oyee, oyee!’ and doing a silly little dance. The part which will not jump out of bed, hearing you yelling and abusing on top of your voice. The part which never be able to look at someone, in awe, disbelief, anger and adoration! So, its okay if I grieve but its really the softer side of me that I mourn, which was capable of feelings. It’s a bit complicated to make anyone understand that.

Anyhow, like we are supposed to think uniformly so are we meant to feel, like everyone else. Sometimes, I want to yell, ‘ I’m sorry…I wasn’t made at the same production plant as you! Don’t use your manual to understand me!’ but why upset the apple cart more than I usually, do? So, I nod my head in agreement to most things or just use my classic ‘ I’m too dumb to get your point’ expression! It always worked like a freaking charm, has kept me from getting into many unnecessary altercations, over the years.

I wish I could say everything is as controlled as my expressions, though. Honestly, as I age and I yell at everyone, ‘ don’t think I’m my mother!’ the more I realize, how much I truly am! Not as nice but as cuckoo as you could be on your worst days…okay, not…almost…there. Thankfully, I’m yet to find ( and hopefully shall never find) a love I can’t live without…go nuts over and a daughter I I can beat up ( oh don’t feel bad honey you were really sick). But I feel so scared of myself, Amma, as the mood swings get really bad, I find myself yelling at someone or the other and in the midst I remember you and I tell myself I can’t go down that road. The good days are so freaking good…totally charged and meglomaniacal to the point where I feel totally invincible. Like I am going to take on the whole world and its mother on that particular day….work…work..party…party!!! The bad ones are getting terrible, hours and hours of crying, total lethargy, the worst flashes. It suddenly catches me from my flight and buries me right under the ground.

One does feel really feel sorry for you, as one struggles, oneself. You must have been terrified, overturning cars, not having control over yourself and getting violent. Those electric shocks, I know scared the crap out of you, for years to come, as they do me. Unlike, what I thought, you were good for my sanity. There was at least some grounding, especially in the last few years. Plus, you were so loud and dramatic all the time, Amma, that there was always something going on. Now, there’s an eerie silence, in this house and in life.

When I went to Kashmir last, the hotel staff got totally freaked out and entered my room one evening because I was just having one of those days, when I don’t eat, lie in bed and cry all the time. Like you tried with all the pills in the world, I too try with books, shares, music, smoking ( yup that’s back) endless binging on videos of gay couples just being so crazily in love with each other (don’t know why but that calms me down..still in love with…..love) but I don’t know how long it will work.

My assessment stated- my state is deteriorating! Sometimes, I wonder. Maybe its not…maybe I’m just too painfully aware of myself, every single thought and feeling gets exaggerated because of fear. Maybe because I saw you, I’m more conscious or I’m slowly tumbling down the road, each freaking psychological assessment, astrological chart, boyfriend or doctor predicted. Who knows? But I ain’t going down without a fight, that’s for sure. On days when I can’t, I remember you biting, clawing, abusing three to four people, trying to hold you down in a hospital room and think ha! I came out of that four feet, seven inches tall, fierceness. I can’t give up! Who would have thought, something that embarrassed me so much, would become inspirational and help me through my struggles?

Your husband misses you, more with each passing day. The initial partying, ‘ I’m going to remarry, yeah!’and euphoria, to deal with your loss has worn off. Thank God! I was so freaking pissed, I’m telling you, it took every fibre in my being to control not breaking every single thing in this house! Especially the first two months. But I understand, a little now. Forgive, I don’t know but I’m trying. It’s hard because I was grieving and it looked like for everybody else, the best thing had just happened. I’m a judgemental shit, though. I look at him, now and I realize, everybody copes with loss differently and denial is as good as wrath! Now, when I look back, I think I behaved exactly like him after Dustu passed. I immediately went back to work, I had an exhibition after a little more than a month. I travelled like crazy and in fact, one of Dustu’s girlfriend’s commented-‘it looks like a party!’ So, what a freaking hypocrite one is, to get mad! God knows what’s going on in his heart and head? Things are never what they seem and I’m sure they’re tougher than he shows. You loved him so much and that’s truly the worst addiction. I think it’s easier to get over someone you love more because that’s all you, a person can snap out it whenever they really want but when you get used to being looked at like you’re the centre of someone’s life, if their eyes light up when they see you and they worry about you all the time, it plays on your narcissism! That’s not easy to live, without! It’s dawning on him l think, that no one will love him like you did, with all his flaws and weaknesses. That’s tough, he struggles with that. You don’t visit me in my dreams, you should meet him in his. Poor Dad, misses being loved by you!

Happy Diwali

Amma,

Happy Diwali Pinky, my Kashmiri Apple! I know you prefer these terms of endearment, complimenting your cute looks to Amma. I was standing outside the house yesterday, checking out your floor- where the renovation is being completed and one of the neighbours said to me-‘ Every time I see you standing outside, I think to myself- she looks just like her mother.’ Aww, ‘andhera kumbh gera’ looks like you! It maybe because I was wearing one of our twinning outfits ( you thought I was being silly buying the same outfits for us but I think they look sweet. I’ll make sure my babies and I wear identical outfits on Diwali). I miss you so much!When someone blesses me or compliments any of SC’s qualities, I miss you terribly. ‘ My Amma, was like that and so much more!’ I think to myself. How sweet you were! They tell me, I hide a heart like yours behind walls of wrath, they have no clue how loving and forgiving you were!

If you were here, you would have looked at how much of an asshole, I’m behaving like and would have yelled, ‘Diyaaa stop behaving like a bitch!’ and we would have burst into peels of laughter. Now, I get angry, write trash in a fit of anger (because I don’t know what else to do) and a couple of hours later think, ‘Wow! My mum would be so disappointed in me, right now!’ then I change the settings, so that, I don’t forget my weakest moments. Hopefully, they’ll make me stronger, someday. If you were here, to everything that was happening your reply would have been ‘let it be’. But I’m yet to take a dip in the Sarovar and ask God to help me control my fury, like you. How violent and uncontrollable you were, uff, you were scary as hell, before that! It seems like, I have replaced all emotions with anger-sadness, fear, anxiety, pain…my one stop solution, is to blow off the handle. I better learn to control this excessive passion, that we all seem to suffer from before I adopt any babies because no one should be exposed to this. ‘Be a monster and then learn to control it. That’s where real strength comes from!’ says JP. Well, I don’t need to try being one but I got to learn how to control it, soon.

It’s about how hard you can get hit

Amma,

As one struggles with one’s sanity, one tries to deconstruct your life and find inspiration from it. I go through prescriptions and photographs to try to figure out the best way to save myself. I ain’t going down without a fight, for sure! These pictures were taken at your worst, I wonder who shot them and why? The first one was of course after the self immolation, the breasts and arm were burnt! I think it was Ashwini bhaiya, who operated upon you, in Kolmet. I remember for a long time ( was it for a year or two?) that you couldn’t wear a top because you were so itchy! The rest of course look like your Corex and medicine induced states. With Dustu’s cards asking you to stop downing that God forsaken cough syrup, I also found Dr Kothari’s prescriptions. I wish I could say, it’s very different from my shrink’s prescription! My mother…my self, haan!

They try to convince me and other people of course, that you were absolutely fine as long as everybody else was taking care of you and somehow murderous me, went and killed you! The shrink tells me, a pill will make the antisocial me, better, meaning nicer, I’m assuming. I’ll probably stop slam dunking people, if I just take some tablet. Miraculously, I will forget being accused of murdering you, ah even better murdering your son ( I keep thanking God I was with GD that night) of eloping, of everybody I know being called, of my love life being discussed as if it was something that was ongoing and even imaginary extra marital affairs being made up ( strategically, just so that I wouldn’t work in a particular area), of my work and my intelligence being mocked…of even my previous landlady in Kashmir being called up to discuss how I wasn’t making your relative a Director and probably it will be some Kashmiri boy….of being alienated…all of this as I was grappling with loosing you and trying to make sense of my existence. ‘ Let it be. Don’t think about it. How does it make a difference to your life?’ well wishers ask me.’ I would have, if it didn’t seem all too familiar and above all misogynistic to the freaking core of it!

So, instead of talking to people I keep to myself mostly, make sure no one knows who I meet ( otherwise they too will be called…of course the Wall and S are exceptions because the won’t flip sides) and if people do ungli, which they can’t help themselves from doing….I just return the favour. You know I’m too lazy to go on the offensive but people sometimes mistake me for you…they assume I have your tolerance level…But sau sanahar ki aur ek lauhar ki!I give it back and they get another round of ammunition. The mature thing to do would be to not react I know…ideally be like you…but If I’m going to go into to the Chakarvyuh and the exit has been blocked, I ain’t going down quietly, that’s for sure. Especially because someday this is going to be a lesson for my daughter- from your life she will learn perseverance and kindness but from mine, it will be this- In the worst of circumstances, even at your frailest moment…even if you have do it by yourself…we try to peg the patriarchy…win or loose…we fight irrespective of how powerful the opponent! We face our internal demons and hero up.

P. S- In case there’s any confusion, the term ‘peg the patriarchy’ isn’t being used here as a sexual term, it isn’t the same as a particular sexual act known as pegging. ‘ Matatas, who coined and trademarked this term, calls it a ‘ metaphor for ‘ subverting a system that requires subservience, within a gender binary !’