Dearest Amma

For years I kept myself aloof from you because I felt unloved and uncared-for. I have written bits and pieces on why I felt so and how it made me distance myself from you. But what I have never bothered to look back at or write about is your struggle in raising the two of us all alone.

I am now a mother of two and I realize how demanding this designation is. I feel like a failure many a times and that’s when you come to my rescue and instill sense into me. Trust me, I could have never come this far with all that had happened in the past if not for you and Acha.

This makes me remember how strong you are. In tough and sensitive situations when most of us lose our sensibilities to think rationally, you have proved yourself stronger than almost all of us. That day when Acha fell unconscious inside the washroom and you called me up, I couldn’t think beyond the worst. I almost froze from within. While you ensured to take help from the neighbours, break open the door and attend to him, I ran up the stairs till someone told me he was fine, only to break down right there.

And then the last week when Acha went for the car wash and forgot his mobile at home. I still can’t figure out how the receptionist was so careless to call you up after two hours only to say that he hasn’t reached there. You called me up and I froze once again. By the time we managed to talk to him, you had used your presence of mind and found out the exact number from his phone and spoke to him. And you still believe that you’re not capable enough to handle gadgets?

I know I haven’t been the perfect daughter. I know how miserly I have been in expressing my love and gratitude to you. I know how rude I am at times when I try to pull you out of your insecurities and fears for us. But trust me Amma, from within I have always and always admired you for your courage, practical mind, selfless love for almost everyone including the ones who have hurt you deeply in the past and your power to forgive.

You never wore a perfectly matching saree and blouse till I got my first job because you had multiple liabilities from both families. It used to annoy me when other teachers made fun of you saying how miserly you are. I almost always felt like punching a few. Remember how I answered back to the PT teacher when she called you a miser. She tagged me as a bad child forever and said how defensive I was. Yes. I was defensive. I was defensive because I could never bear to see people hurting you or Acha even with their words. I have never heard the two of you answer back to anyone. And I have always seen people taking advantage of this quality of yours.

If there’s one thing I regret, it is the past because of which I never came closer to you. You did make mistakes but those were out of your own fears of raising us all alone. I now know how our rendezvous with the cane stick in the school corridor would have hurt you much more than they hurt me. You were so so scared for us that in your effort to keep us safe, well-behaved and well-brought up, you missed how I missed your touch, your hugs and your kisses. The ones that were most needed for that five-year old who grew up as a lonely child.

On that day when Acha left for the mid-east on his decade long stint, you were suddenly burdened with the responsibility of handling us alone. And on that same day, I lost my mother who used to have enough time for me, who used to teach me rhymes carrying me on her hips, who used to pamper me with all her love. Somewhere we both transformed that day into people we were not. We both built walls around us for different reasons. We both wore masks for the sake of a bright future.

I’m glad that today I feel I have been able to shed all those walls and inhibitions. I have been able to glance back and reflect on the past and the find reasons for the years we both missed.

Amma, I want to relive all those years again with you, Acha and the little one. I want us to have all those years back. We lost a lot while the world around us only counted our material gains and blessings. It’s high time we start living for ourselves and not others. You both have struggled enough and now I just want you both to enjoy your life with our little ones. I can’t bear to see the stress in your eyes for fear of our future. You have done enough for the two of us and I believe you’ve made us powerful enough to handle whatever the future holds.

You tell me that you learn a lot from me. You tell me how you like the way I decide for myself without fear of anyone. How you like the way I stand up for my people and myself. How I am fearless and can take on the world. What you don’t realize is these are things I wanted you to do for yourself. I am what I am because I was raised by you. I stand up for myself because I know how hurt you would be to see me hurt. I am nothing but a byproduct of you, Amma.

Amma and Me

Absolutely indebted to you for everything that you’ve done for us.

It’s been a stressful year and it took Anu’s one sentence of how mean I am because I refused her kiss the other day that took it for me to realize what you would have been through every time you pushed me away from you. ‘SORRY’ is  a small word which cannot express the amount of forgiveness I seek from you. Forgive me, Amma. I loved you. I love you. And I will always love you.

Let’s live the rest of our lives reliving all those lost years. Just keep hugging me once in a while. As you hug me I can feel all the stress and the tensions melting away. I will always and always need you. Happy Mother’s Day, Amma!

 

 

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Clouds – A Picture Story (8 pictures)

I’m a dreamer. I have to dream and reach for the stars, and if I miss a star then I grab a handful of clouds.

~ Mike Tyson
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Have your ever chased clouds? 

I have. Always. Since I was a child.

Mom used to tell me that the clouds could move around freely and faster and they could reach Dad, who lived in the deserts, faster than the postal letter could. I would look up at the sky when I was happy, when I was sad, when I was excited, when I was amused, when I was angry. In short, I would look for clouds all the time except when the report card was received.

Clouds

I have sailed from Rank fifteen to Rank first and every letter from Dad in response to my result would invariably have the first paragraph congratulating me for my performance and the second paragraph always beginning with, ‘I am extremely disappointed that you lost these many marks in so-and-so subject.’ This did not change even when I lost just one mark in Mathematis. He was still congratulating me and was also disappointed. I guess that was his trick to motivate me to perform better every time. But trust me, it kept me confused all the time thinking that was he happy or upset with me.

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Slowly but surely these clouds became those friends of mine with whom I could communicate freely through by eyes. No one would overhear us. No one would understand our language except us. I would pour my heart out to the clouds and they would sometimes cry with me. Getting drenched in those tears would help me let go. That feeling cannot be explained through words.

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Have you ever bothered to watch them from the other side through the aircraft window. If my mood was happy, I could see an ice-cream factory that reminded me of the childhood nursery rhyme ‘chocolate ke bangle mein toffee ke dwaar’.

At times I am amazed because the cloud formations look like nothing but a visual description of the state of my own mind. When I used to miss Mom’s cuddles, I would end up seeing a Mommy bear cuddling a Teddy bear. A cone of ice-cream would pop up when the taste buds craved for one.

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If I ever felt romantic, watching the sky would remind me this song from the movie Delhi 6. Especially the line ‘samandar leheron ki chadar odh ke so raha hai.’  To me the the clouds enveloping the vast sky seemed like a cosy blanket helping the sky sleep peacefully.

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At times I wonder if these clouds are nature’s tears which like mine have lost the strength to stick on to the eyelids and are almost at the verge of flowing down like a downpour. And as I look up consolingly, a drop or two would fall on my cheeks consoling me back.

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I have seen so much with these clouds, I have travelled so much with them and yet a glimpse of them is all it takes for me to be a child again. Jumping happily and hopping on to the terrace to capture them before they departed. The fire spitting dragon whom everyone dreaded was my chariot. I would imagine getting on to it and moving around the globe making friends.

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The thunderous clouds seem like musical notes sent to remind you of a lost friend who just thought of you. With the breeze moving the clouds, my heart races to stop them for a little while more. Alas! They don’t. But they do make way for yet another bunch of clouds that bring in yet another batch of memories.

I read Varsh‘s post Clouds ~ The Daily Post Prompt first thing this morning and ever since I was itching to post mine. Her love for clouds was much much similar to mine. And I enjoyed her journey with the clouds. Hope you had a wonderful time reading this picture post along with Varsh’s.

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This post has been written for prompt Clouds on The Daily Post

Evening Prayers and Childhood Memories

Hello World!

That was the first computer program we had to write in BASIC, PASCAL, COBOL and C in the first year of the graduation. It seems Byron S. Gottfried was determined to make every Computer Science graduate to wish the world. Noble soul!

Later on, when I could actually lay my hands on the sales figure of the book over the years as a publisher, my doubts were cleared. He indeed made millions say ‘Hello World!’.

This is what happens when you start writing without having anything on your mind. I haven’t written anything for almost two months now. And this morning I was like itching to pick up the laptop and go sit on the terrace and scribble some gibberish. Alas! The humid weather and not a single leaf moving made me opt against it.

But here I am. Finally sitting with a blank document, struggling to write something. And then it came. Muse, of course!

Had the most beautiful fifteen day vacation in my life with all my loved ones in one place. And guess what by the end of it, Mom’s pension too got through. Nine months! The relief on her face is therapy to all of us.

evening prayer

Saw the pic above. That’s a regular practice in many of Kerala houses till today. Evening prayers. Reciting Namah Shivaya, Ramayana or other shlokas with elders in the family. The Nilavilakku is integral to several rituals and ceremonies in Hindu families in Kerala. As the sun rises, young girls of the family bring the lighted lamps to the verandah of the house, continued with evening prayers.

The last time I remember having this kind of evening was when both Muthachan (maternal grandfather) and Ammamma (maternal grandmother) were alive. In 1990. Ammamma, Amma or Mema (maternal aunt) would light the Nilavillakku (Nilam in the Malayalam/Tamil language means tall and vilakku means lamp), show it to the Thulasithara (the holy place in the courtyard where Basil is grown and worshipped) and the Paambum Kaavu (Abode of Snakes, is a traditional natural sacred space seen near traditional homes in Kerala) while slowly chanting Deepam, Deepam, Deepam and then put the lamp in front of the Mahalakshmi photo that was worshipped with special pooja on the first Friday of every Malayalam month. We were then made to recite Namah Shivaya. Mema would then feed us along with a story or two. Walking with her in the courtyard with just the moonlight to accompany us seems to be one of the most beautiful memories of my childhood. I was so attached to Mema that when she finally got married at the age of thirty, I created such a scene on the eve of her wedding. I was eleven then. That was not all. I bit into her husband’s hand a day after their wedding and prayed that it gets infected. I guess her wedding and subsequent change of residence meant another blow to my little heart which was already bleeding due to Dad’s foreign assignment. It felt like I lost her forever. I still love her, but that warmth has been lost somewhere in those fading lanes of my childhood.

A big thanks to Girija Aunty at the home stay for helping revive those beautiful childhood memories. By the way, she happens to be the namesake of my beloved Mema. Love you lots, Girija Mema!

Stay tuned to more such updates from my recent travel on this space.