A year and a half later

Dear Amma,

Yesterday, you popped up on my FB wall, Amma, as it’s been a year and a half since you passed. Each time I write Amma, I can see you face squirming…how you hated being addressed as such! It was mom, high tea, diamonds, Kaaashmir and what not for you! You were always too fancy dudette and I was too desi.

Time passes, like it does. Your nighties smell less of you and more of me, now. I haven’t been able to get a tattoo due to Covid, so you know how clingy SC gets. Those Marks and Spenser, nightgowns are bakwaas, by the way, they’ve completely lost their shape. I always told you, a local tailor constructs better garments than these chains but you thought I was a miser ( which I am but still). No wonder, people would look at us and go, ‘hai yeh aapki beti he?’

That reminds me, turns out that becoming a particular version of you, is my deepest fear. I find myself fighting with people and more often than not, yelling-‘I’m not my mother! Don’t try, the crap you tried on her!’ Also, surprise, surprise, the less in control of one’s life one feels, the more aggressive one gets. Oh I’m so lovely, these days! You were so gentle, my tongue would have embarrassed you . Though, my fit throwing would have seemed familiar. Remember how I was between fourteen to sixteen? Well, I’m not as bad…I don’t run out of the house at 2 a.m and keep walking around to calm down but uff, the wrath! They say, it’s been accumulated over a long period and especially after loosing you and going through the lovely experience of feeling cornered and alone…when I was already vulnerable, has tipped off my mental balance. Maybe it has or maybe I’m just plain nuts and of course totally misanthropic.

Good choice on the boy…I should have listened to you. You always knew better than I, who was good for me. Ever since, you’ve gone he frets over me like a mother hen. You shouldn’t have asked him to promise you, that he’ll take care of me. He actually came down to ensure, that I wasn’t going completely bonkers. Sat around ( watching a silly series with me) gave me pep talks ( you need to channel the anger constructively) and pampered me silly ( we went out ever single night). Poor guy, seemed a bit scandalised by your man. But you know how that plays out better than anyone else.

Nevertheless, life is the way, it is, circular. As I grow older, I understand you more. Honestly, I never understood why you were so paranoid? Why you would tell the domestic help ‘ if anyone calls just tell them I’m sleeping’. Why did you become addicted to Corex ( oh, I found the sweetest cards your son made for you. ‘Mummy please stop drinking Corex!. They’re heartbreaking!) Why did you prefer the company of kids and animals? As I delve deeper into my own psyche and try to confront my shadows, I’ve had to re-examine you and your life as well.

I forgave you a long time ago but now I truly empathise with you and two of my brothers. Respect! I’ve been in your shoes for a year and a half and I’m like ‘ Oh sweet mother of God!’ But you all are too nice and I’m a loose freaking canon with nada to loose…no boyfriend or husband who can be manipulated, no extended family and whatever can be said to my friends and acquaintances has already been said and done. Advantages of being bad, baby you already have a particular reputation and once it all goes to hell, you don’t fear no one! You should have tried it, it might have saved you from the electric shocks. Actually, that is something that can be pulled on me, as well ( maybe I should reconsider marriage, just to ensure they don’t get me institutionalised). You were someone who blinded everyone with her goodness and her light, so you needed to be controlled but in my case there’s more to be gained materialistically. After all, since you were a woman as soon as your Father passed away, you were forced to sign away all your rights to his property and when your mum passed away, since you and and one of sisters weren’t ’ mentally stable’ , you were not given even a piece of her clothing, forget anything else. For now I have God in my corner, otherwise I wouldn’t have survived the past eighteen months. Let’s see, how long he protects me.

Happy Mother’s Day

Amma,

Happy Mother’s Day my darling Pinky. Thank you for living life according to your own rules, for being a total bad ass, yet the gentlest soul and most of all irrespective of how sick you were, for making us feel like we were important and loved. Thank you for the last few years of your life, they mean the most to me! For your hugs and your warmth, I will always be grateful but most of all for your apology. I miss you.

Congratulations! Your niece just got married. People keep asking me to, as well, since I won’t need to call anyone and I keep saying lockdown or no lockdown, in any case no one is going to be invited for my wedding or my funeral, so I’m good, thanks!!

What else is new? Haan! So the architect uncle’s granddaughter, has also moved into uncle’s home. Now there’s uncle on the ground floor with his son, his grand daughter with her husband on the first floor and uncle’s daughter on the second floor with her husband. The uber cool tenant has moved to his father in law’s home in Goa. Why am I telling you this gossip? Your husband is soooo pissed with me! Lol! ‘ They are so lucky, there daughters have found such men’ he keeps telling me and he told them as well. I think it would be cool if more people were as open minded, daughters wouldn’t be thought of as a burden and parents who have only daughters, wouldn’t have to go through this pandemic alone. It amazes me how regressive, our society still is, where even the most educated women can’t digest this. As for me, Amma, can you imagine me waking up next to someone, each and every morning? Irrespective of whose house it is, I have books on my bed, there’s no place for anyone on it! I can continue to be your husband’s constant source of disappointment in life!

More good news! Your nephew’s had a baby. I didn’t know because I am not part of your families whattsapp group and on an individual basis I don’t ask one person about the other. So I was just chatting with the parjai and I said something about the population never reducing because people are busy making babies, during the lockdown and she went, ‘ ya that’s what we did!’ She’s too adorable, didn’t mind when I put both my feet in my mouth.

On a serious note, thank you for setting a good example by the way you lived. The other day, someone was saying, ‘we don’t understand why people don’t give anonymously!’ and I said ‘they shouldn’t!’ In fact I think they should tell everyone. If they scream about their wealths by purchasing the biggest cars and diamonds, to show people how much they have, this is something that they must tell someone to encourage more giving. Then I went on to give your example. Remember how Raj painji, always did a lot for people and she would take you to that place in Lajpat Nagar, where she distributed food packages to children. You saw that, learnt from her and imbibed that. I’m grateful to her for not keeping that a secret and for you to be open enough to learn that. Someday, there will be a private family foundation, hopefully sooner than later. You’ve left me more than I need. Promise, I’ll do something with it, that would have made you happy!

Firefly

Amma,

One loafed about yesterday, as I had to come to Noida later on, for a shift. Oiled my thinning, greying hair and thought of dragging myself to the parlour but you know it has to be my least favourite place in the world. Darling, you had some patience!

I wish I’d gotten off my ass, though. A friend recommended, I watch Mr Holmes but I wasn’t in the mood, so I chanced upon this series called Firefly Lane. Well, it seems our screwed up lives and choices, have been normalised greatly in the past few years by the entertainment industry! Watching it, broke my heart a little bit, if my blood pumping left atrium and right atrium can be called thus! The protagonist seemed all commitment phobic, scattered, incapable of real intimacy and with a tongue that spewed words, like this to a lover-‘ I never met my father, are you him?’ Does that sound familiar? Hmmm! And to top it goes from falling for much older men to a much younger one! Yup, I ain’t making this shit up, that’s part of the narrative!

So, of course one was hooked. The mother’s addiction, the love hate relationship shared by them, uff, what may seem like an exaggeration to many, is actually understating, sometimes. Very often, reality is stranger than fiction! Anyhow, what was supposed be a series about friendship, seemed to be a lot more than that. At one point, when the little boy’s had enough of her quills, I was literally yelling at the television- ‘ No, no no don’t listen to the words, look at her eyes!’, it was mental. Bhaskarji actually thought I’d lost it! He was just so sick of me, he was like go for work or ride a bike, get out!

Pinky, I’m learning to ride. There are a number of mother- daughter duos, who turn up for the workshops. If you were around, though, you would have never gone with me, instead, what a fit you would have thrown! Considering, how accident prone all of us are, you would have fretted, fumed and shown me those big puppy eyes, with tears in them and I would have had to succumb. But don’t worry, I’m like a scared little wuss on that thing, so I won’t do anything crazy, other, than using this as my pick up line, ‘come on baby, let me take you for a ride!’ Greece two, hangover! I never got my cool rider, might as well find a way, to make out on a bike before I die!