Monday, April 02, 2007

Dear Mummy,

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!

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Blogger karmic said...

Sweet post. I kind of know (can only imagine)where you are coming from, for *A* misses her mom dearly.

10:29 AM  
Blogger karmic said...

Best wishes to your mom on her b'day

10:30 AM  
Blogger Dreamcatcher said...

This was so beautiful. I guess your mother won't ever know you wrote something so lovely for her :)
Happy Birthday to her :)

12:39 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

1:25 PM  
Blogger Little Miss Muffet said...

ooohh...i totally relate to this...even the "fallen in love" secret part..sigh :( ...the one about the cockroaches made me laugh..that's what my mother and I used to do too :)

2:43 PM  
Blogger Amit said...

hey! long time lurker. but this post just made want to give out a huge big *hug* to you and your mum!

Amazing post! Thanks for brightening up my day. :D

6:59 PM  
Blogger Eroteme said...

Happy birthday to your mom... Does she get to read this? :-)

10:08 PM  
Blogger Shirsha said...

You prob wont believe this, but each of those things happened, really! It essentially was a trip down memory lane...

1:41 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wonderful, simply wonderful!

Reminded me this beautiful song!

8:18 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Honestly I think if you wanted to say any of those things to your Mom you should have just told her. What's the point in pouring out emotions on a blog if it doesn't reach the person it is meant for? I'm sorry but I find it hypocritical.


9:23 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is weird because I can relate to almost everything you say here. From crying at school to sharing secrets to being best friends with my Mom. Until I fell in love. Gosh! Do most girls go through the exact same experience? May be they do. And I guess we are all quite lucky to have such wonderful nurturing relationships with our mothers. Don't you think?
Thanks for this post. I'm gonna call up my Mom right now :)

10:12 AM  
Blogger Prerona said...

beautiful post ... beautiful thoughts ... beautiful creation ... loved it
and it made me cry

Thank you SO much for sharing it with us :)

my mom's birthday is also coming :)

10:25 AM  
Blogger Prerona said...

Happy Birthday to your Mom!

10:26 AM  
Blogger Bong Mom said...

A very touching post M and Happy BirthDay to Your Ma

10:45 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You write beautifully. Your posts are glimpses into the life you have had, the life you have. From someone who has leant to survive in pain since childhood, I can tell you that you are very fortunate. Cherish it and may good thing come to you and yours.

11:29 AM  
Blogger Rimi said...

I was going away without commenting as usual, but I think the first Anonymous commenter doesn't quite understand what drives someone NOT to speak about these things with the person concerned. I should know, when I felt the drift I tried to 'talk it out' with my mum as well. It went quite, quite well. Chonu is not known for detached, patient analysing. She's sensitive and she reacts to words instead of sentences, all of which I find difficult to deal with. But we sat down, she kept her impulsiveness in check, I tried to be patient, but after the talk, for a few days, we moved around each other a little tentatively, wary of hurting each other.

And then we went back to being the way we used to be. Misunderstanding, exasperating, being playful, being mad at each, but most importantly, loving each other completely. Only later I ame to know she had spoken about "not quite understanding" my life any more to my aunts, like I had to my friends. And they had reciprocated with their own stories. That was an important part of what broke the impasse.

Therefore, Anon, posts like these matter, and are therapeutic. As someone who completely identifies what M says, trust me on this.

1:45 AM  
Blogger Priya said...

As usual I didn't read your post, until now! Maane getting too used to life other than your blog (wink, wink)! Amazing how you put words to every feeling. Byapok.

5:44 AM  
Blogger Something to Say said...

happy birthday to your mom M. And it was just a beautiful post.

7:24 AM  
Blogger 30in2005 said...

I am sitting at my desk with tears threatening to spill over the rims of my eyes. That was beautiful. Your mum is very lucky to have you for a daughter.

7:26 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

rimi: so you're saying that trying to break the barrier and expressing emotions lead to greater divide? Talking about how you feel makes it harder to understand where you are coming from? And telling total strangers over the internet is therapeutic? How? Is it because you get the satisfaction of making yourself believe that you let your feelings show and expressed love in some twisted fashion and it still matters even if the person concerned has not a clue? Because all these strangers stop by and leave comments saying 'beautiful post' 'touching' and 'makes me want to cry'? Do tell me because I'm interested.
How does it make a difference in M's mother's life, or her birthday when her daughter cannot step up and tell her Mom how much she matters to M? And how is it therapeutic when M knows in her heart that her Mom will never know how she feels? I'd think it would be a heavy burden to carry around. Don't you think?


9:07 AM  
Blogger M (tread softly upon) said...

@ everyone thanks for all the wishes.

@dc, eroteme unfortunately no, she doesn't get to read it because then she'll want to come back and read all my other posts. And that will never do :)

@ anon (the one who called me hypocritical) you ask what the point is? The point is well explained by rimi. And yes it probably doesn't make any difference to my Mom unless I put it out there for her to read, but it helps me in some way by letting me vent my emotions. And I agree it is totally selfish of me. But that is exactly what I'm saying in this post. I'm selfish and self centered. And which is why I can never be like my mom who loves me and keep on giving in the most selfless way. Inspite of it all.
That is what this post was about. I'm sorry but may be you failed to get that.

@ rimi thanks for everything. I'm glad you didn't leave without commenting this time :)

@ anon (number 4) I'm assuming you are the same 'anon' from the first comment. Cannot answer for rimi here. But since most of the accusations are directed at me I am qualified to answer, I hope.
Talking about your emotions on the internet to total strangers can be therapeutic. Because it comes easy. People who don't know you, don't judge you or give you biased opinions. And you can pour out your heart without having to feel compromised wondering whether you are going to embarrass yourself by saying something personal or whether you'll hurt someone else for having said painful facts. Anonymity gives you a wonderful sense of freedom. And you should know because you are guilty of the exact same thing.
My blog is my space. I write here because I want to say things that I cannot say otherwise. And I don't see how that is being hypocritical. Self centered, yes. But isn't that what my space should be? All about me? When I have to tell someone how I feel about him/ her, I will do that over a letter or a phone call or in person. Not through my blog.
And for the record, I don't blog for the 'satisfaction' of having 'strangers' say nice things about my posts. The comment box is left on so that anyone reading my blog can have a say. Or that's what I believe it is there for.

P.S. And what's up with all these anonymous comments all of a sudden? Care to leave a name or something? It would make replying a whole lot easier.

9:55 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Cribs on anonymity on this, what an irony!

1:08 PM  
Blogger Rohini said...

Lovely. You have an awesome ability to bring your childhoos moments alive in a truly evocative way.

1:53 PM  
Blogger Bharath Hemachandran said...

Very nice as usual :)

Can't really relate to any of it except for the fact that I love my mom for well being a mom. How can you really ever hope to thank them for the things they have done for you (not that they really expect it)? Still a lovely heartfelt post. I really hope your mom reads this.

However being the one that actually had to go find the chappal and dispose of cockroaches I cannot say I was able to relate to your trip down memory lane ;)

Happy Birthday and love to your mom.

3:47 PM  
Blogger Bharath Hemachandran said...

And I've never topped my class nor can I paint or draw to save my life! :(

So I def cannot relate to your post.

3:56 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

What is hypocrisy? Why do you think M is a hypocrite? Just because she wrote some of her emotions for her mother on this blog instead of telling it to her. I don't think that is being a hypocrite. Explain how is she a hypocrite?

Emotions are felt and not told. Telling negates the whole experience of being felt. To have the correct words, the correct tone, the correct punctuation it is a huge thing and even after that its an experience one needs to feel not being told. Have you ever talked to a loved one ever and let that person know? Can you collect each piece of your memory and tell it threadbare or would you be choking for words at every point. Somehow I feel you haven't tried that ever. And that's why telling it to your loved one like Rimi tried doesn't work because now you are suddenly hyper-sensitive to being judged (even in a good way). Breaking the barrier and expressing emotions lead to a greater awareness of each of your actions being judged and memorized for later revelation. And thats why things like that cannot be told.

Actions speak louder than words. You ask what difference does it make in M's mother's life? well just because she may tell it to her on her birthday doesn't make any difference. But she has known it always in her heart. When you tell something to your mother which is normally reserved for friends she knows that you are her friend. She will never tell you how glad she is for that but she knows for sure and each such incident or event and she knows how much she means to her daughter. There are no words required to describe everything once more or belabor the point.

You ask why is it therapeutic to write? Because you still want to say all of them and while you choke or cannot tell so you express yourself. Not in the hope of your loved one reading it, but more as a satisfaction that you can tell it atleast once, you can remember each incidence and remember the importance of it in your life and that is why you write. The medium chosen to write is inconsequential because you always intend to tell it.

Burden is the wrong word to describe these thoughts. You are not cleaning your cobwebs or unloading a burden but you are trying to re-live those moments in your life which you cherish everyday. You want to keep it written for a day when you would open it again and cherish it once more.

And finally why do total strangers like us comment? We do not comment because she writes good or she spills her memories for us. We comment because at some point we identify with those thoughts, we re-live our cherished moments which we think about while reading it. We comment to express that we have felt something while reading it. But then it is our perrogative to feel it and not comment but some of us just appreciate what she reminded us for and say our way of Thank You.

(Could have been a post in itself I guess)

7:54 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Just forgot to tell that the above comment was for 'Anon'

8:06 PM  
Blogger Sudipta Chatterjee said...

Beautiful, really beautiful post. Here's wishing your mother a very (belated) happy birthday and good wishes for having raised you as she did.

3:08 AM  
Blogger Rajarshi said...

that's a really nice post.
i think you'd left a comment on my blog (how on earth did you find it?)

4:31 AM  
Blogger Rajarshi said...

and oh yes! happy birthday to your mom!

4:31 AM  
Blogger That Girl said...

*sniff* i hope your mum read this.

i miss my parents so much now that im here in the States.

Time lost with them is SO not worth it.

im glad youre so honest with your feelings. Thats the most beautiful part.

2:13 PM  
Blogger qsg said...

Happy Birthday to your mom!

Beautiful post...parents are absolutely wonderful... no idea how they have so much patience and perseverance!

6:52 PM  
Blogger Tabula Rasa said...

hmmm. very nice post, but i think you should get up and say it (especially now that you have the script).i've said this before.

i'm spending a few days at my parents' place in india. this morning my mother suddenly blacked out right in front of me.

say it.

5:37 AM  
Blogger Joyful Heart! said...

Oh my dear M! I have no words. Mom is visiting and today we had a day out, just she and I and I just told her sitting in Barista feasting on a chocolate excess, surrounded by school/college kids staring at this strange combination, that she is the bestest friend i could hang out with anyday!!! Moms are such luxuries.. could we ever be like them!

11:49 AM  
Blogger Trevor Penn said...

First things first, Happy belated birthday wishes to your ma / mummy.

I'd be lying if i said that i was moved half as much by any other blog post ever. There are people around us who are so in love with us that they continue "giving" even when the odds are stacked against us... They are the ones who define love, they are the ones who help your life and they are the ones who constitute your support system and Moms are almost always the heart and soul of such a system.

2:51 AM  
Blogger lemon said...

wow..!! i wish i had that kind of relationship with my mother...

beautifully written..! :) very poignant...

1:06 AM  
Blogger Sudarshan. A. G. said...

I wonder how you've been able to recreate each of the tiniest memories.. Commendable indeed!

8:16 AM  
Blogger M (tread softly upon) said...

@ all, thanks for all your support, wishes and comments :)

9:15 AM  
Blogger How do we know said...

This is the BEST mummy post that i have ever read!

12:53 AM  
Blogger Munmun said...

Dear Musings,
This is first time I am reading any of your posts. Beautiful indeed.. Please keep writing always..

P.S. Belated Happy birthday to Kakima! :-)

1:22 AM  
Blogger Debalina Das said...

This is the first time I am reading your post. My bf called me up and asked me to read it.
This is something I can relate to. Each and every step.
A beautiful one.

3:20 PM  
Blogger Sukhaloka said...

Ever so beautiful.

1:04 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

That's just beautiful. Absolutely beautiful. I found my Mum not so long ago. Two people who'd never really spoken to each other before...lived in different houses, visited different places and spent time with different people. Then we realised there's more to being a Mother than the same skin colour, hair and eye colour - even blood doesn't really matter.

I love my Mum, I'm just gutted I didn't get to do some of the growing up things others enjoy.

But I imagine, if we did get to do some of the things you mention, we'd have memories almost as beautiful as yours :-)

Thank you for sharing that. It's really beautiful.

11:03 PM  
Blogger Cartic said...

That was one beautiful blogpost I have ever read!

3:02 AM  

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