For as long as I can remember I always wanted to look exactly
like you. I hated it when people said that I looked like Daddy. Daddy was short and dark. I didn't want to be short and dark. I wanted to be tall and fair and pretty. Just like you. And I also wanted to be strong and efficient. Just like you. But I fell short in most every way.
And I don't think I've ever told you how much I have wanted to be like you. And that I think of you often. And although I never tell you how much I love you and miss you, I hope that in your heart you know that. And how much I've always wanted to be like you.Just like you
.From my treasure-chest of memories
I am 3 years old. I'm playing on the kitchen floor with my brightly colored pieces of Lego. And you are at the kitchen counter making a trifle for dessert. I hold out my hand and you give me some of those edible sprinkles that you use to decorate the trifle. You keep the little bottle in a drawer that is way out of my reach. I love eating trifle.
It is my first day in school. I watch you leave and I start crying. Your heart is breaking to walk away while I stand there at the window sobbing.
Daddy is taking me to school. You wrap up two chocolate cookies for me in a tissue to take with me. I fall down a slope on my way to the car. You watch me fall from the kitchen window and come running. You wipe away my tears and kiss the pain away.
We are going out. You dress me up in a dress with white frills and red polka dots. You make me wear red socks and I hate it. I still have a photo from that day.
We are out shopping and I am tired. I ask you to carry me in your arms. You say 'no'. You tell me that I am a big girl now and you cannot carry me any more. I wish that I had not grown.
I am studying in the evening. You sit with me, helping me when I get stuck. It is a hot, sticky summer evening and there is a cool breeze coming in through the open window. A cockroach comes flying in and I scream. You scream too. We both run away. We find Daddy to kill the cockroach.
I just come back from a Math test and give you my question paper with my answers written next to each problem. You find out that I made silly mistakes. You are devastated and you cry. I promise myself that I would never ever make you cry again.
I come home from an Art class and show you tubes of water color that I took from another girl because I did not like crayons and wanted to do water colors like the big girls. You scold me and tell me that I cannot just take something from someone because that is called stealing. And if I ever want something I should just ask you. You get me a whole box full of Camel water color tubes. I just fall in love with painting.
We get off a tram and you realize that the person behind you just pinched your purse. You confront the person and demand that she return the purse. The person freaks out and runs through heavy traffic and boards a running bus. We cannot chase her. You lose your purse. But I think you are the bravest person to go up and confront someone like that.
I have a science project at school. You show me how to sketch. You show me your old lab notebooks. With diagrams that you did when you went to school. I think it is the neatest and most beautiful lab notebook that I had ever seen. I try to draw like you. I even try to write like you. You have the most beautiful handwriting. You tell me you learnt it by trying to copy Dadu.
You learn how to drive. So you can drive Dadubhai to work every morning. And drop me off at school too. We stop at a railroad crossing everyday and I laugh when the car rolls backwards on the slope. You tell me that it stresses you out everyday to get over that slope.
We are in a boat in Nepal. The person who is rowing the boat is about 6 years old. You are scared to death. You don't know how to swim. You are convinced that the boat will sink and you will drown. Daddy takes a picture. We still laugh about how scared you looked that day.
You tell me about growing up. About adolescence, puberty and sex. I listen wide-eyed and decide that it will be our little secret. When friends talk about sex I just listen and never tell anyone that I already know.
Daddy answers the phone. A guy is asking to speak to me. My first ever phone call from a guy. Daddy is confused and gives the phone to you. You say 'hello' and the guy hangs up. We laugh about how Daddy freaked out.
I tell you about all the guys who are after me. The ones who send me cards, the ones who hang around my school gate, the ones who follow me from tuition, the ones who call up and profess undying love. We talk about how silly guys are. I think you are totally cool.
We are in a bus and a strange man is trying to molest me. I tell you and you shout at the man and he is forced to get off the bus. I am so embarrassed that I wish I had not told you.
We are buying cards at the Archies gallery and you call me by my name from the other end of the store. I pretend not to hear you. You ask me what is wrong and I tell you never call me by my name in public because everyone turns around and stares. But you don't get it. Because you do the exact same thing another day. I give up trying to explain.
You want me to stop chewing on my nails. You tell me if I quit then you will buy me every single shade of nailpolish that is available on the market. I still haven't managed to stop biting my nails.
We are practising a duet. Tumi aamar Ma aar aami tomar meye
originally sung by Sandhya Mukherjee and Srabanti Majumdar. You start crying as you sing it. I don't. Now, even thinking about the song makes me cry.
As does this song
we learnt while we were in school.
You buy me dahi-phuchka
from a stall in Deshapriya Park during Durga Puja. You tell me not to tell Daddy because he will eat you alive for having exposed me to a sure-shot case of cholera. I never tell him. I didn't get cholera.
I come back from a three week trip that I did with my Dad. You couldn't go because you had to take care of Dadubhai. I burst into tears when I see you at the airport. I missed you so much that I vow I'd never go on a trip without you. Ever again.
You never tell me that I have to top my class. You never tell me that I have to be a doctor or an engineer to be successful. You just tell me that I need to grow up and have a career. And be proud of what I do. I learnt that I got through the Medical Joint Entrance Examination the day you had your 25th wedding anniversary. You told me that it was the best present ever.
I tell you that I want to live together with my partner before I decide to get married. You ask me why. We talk about pre-marital sex and I think you are a little shocked. But you do not judge me or try to reason with me or tell me that I am wrong. You just tell me why you think the way you do and let me decide.
I tell you everything. Every
little thing. You are my best friend. But I don't tell you about one thing. That I have fallen in love. And I lie to you for the first time to cover things up. And I keep on lying. Because it is easy. Because I don't want to share this secret with you. And I think we start moving apart. I think I am hurting you. But I am too self-engrossed, too blind to even realize that. You know I am lying. You know I am hiding things from you. You hurt. You feel alone. You cry yourself to sleep at night. You keep praying for me.
We talk about my relationship and where it is headed. I say things that I don't mean. I hurt you because I think you don't understand. You are no longer my friend. You are my mother. You are being judgemental. And I resent it. I make you cry.
And yet, through it all you keep on loving me. You keep on giving. As always. And after all these years I want to tell you that I am sorry. For hurting you. And that inspite of everything, I have always wanted to be exactly like you. And in my efforts I have realized that I can only try. But there will never be anyone quite like you.
I love you Mummy.Happy Birthday