Sometime after this trip, to Kashmir, Mum lost herself, somewhere either extrinsic or intrinsic. I don’t know, if it was due to the amount people talked about it ( which even I heard) or because she had begun to slip into her darkness. But her inability to handle the way everyone spoke about her- her family, her husband’s family, neighbours, friends, didn’t help.
I remember hearing so much about her clothes, her behaviour that not only did I end up resenting her but also the rest of the world. My dad says, I changed drastically, after mum fell ill. I don’t know, I only remember this misanthropic version of myself. But when I look at these pictures, I realize how difficult it must have been to be overly sensitive and to hear such sharp criticism, on every aspect of your personality. For the longest time, till her son’s death, she was the original, rebel. Though, the household revolved around her, completely, by many she was considered the wasteful, good for nothing woman, who was a cause of her husband’s misery.
Her son’s death redeemed her of her apparent sins. I’m so glad she didn’t die with that tag, most people having forgotten that version of her.
After I think the age of seven or eight, my relationship with my Mum became strained. I’d grown up, I could figure out what was happening around me and she was beginning to fall ill. The colour of my skin, also became quite troublesome for her as I grew older.
Hailing from a Sikh family, I was expected to be white, as milk and my skin and hair, have a life and mood of their own. Girgit ki tarha rang badalta he. Depending on how long I have been out in the sun, whether my eyebrows are done or not ( unlike my mother, I hate going to the salon) and if I’ve gotten enough sleep or not, I turn from wheatish to chocolate brown. So from 7-8 to 15-16, I was a chocolate brown colour, to my poor mother’s horror. She had to hear plenty from her family and I had to hear plenty from my brother and mum, ‘kali, Kali’ they would chant.
It’s only when I grew up, that I realised she didn’t know any better. I still have more than enough relatives, even friends, who look at their white skin, the way my mum would look at hers and think it’s an achievement. Thankfully, I didn’t grow up with a complex about it but I wish it wasn’t an issue. I wish we won’t have wasted time on so many trivial things.