First of all, I can’t possibly do you justice in a letter, but letter writing for me is a cathartic process. I can imagine your scent, soapy and fruity, your smile, your hands, the curls in your hair, the way you sit and fold your legs and how you bring your tea up to your lips (quite a bit of milk, hot, no sugar). I think about how I will never be able to do anything to repay you for everything you have done for me. I will never be able to show to you how much I love you and it frustrates me, but believe me that I do. From carrying me in your body to bringing me into this world, you have given me everything you have, from the food on your plate to your ears to all my demands. You have always been doing, acting, living a life that does not expect things to happen but makes them happen. I always wondered whether paradise was beneath those cracked heels and I had no idea that these cracked heels would make my life as smooth as silk.
You are kind, generous, courageous, sympathetic and all their synonyms. Perhaps it is easier for me to take my frustrations out on you than anyone else in this world because you love me limitlessly and unconditionally. My teen years were difficult. Not because I was rebellious (let me be honest, I still lined my stuffed animals on my bed at 16), but I saw you as “old school” and assumed you would not understand. I was a quiet and stubborn kid who always wanted to blaze my own trail. You succeeded in sheltering me. There were times when I was a total brat to you; I was rude, selfish and unkind. Still, you loved me anyway, you loved me when my words and actions were completely unlovable; thus you taught me unconditional love.
I know what kind of child I’ve been, I’ve heard everyone say “Khuday raechen” when talking about me as a child or in fact as an adult too. I’m sorry Amu, I’m sorry for everything. I’m sorry for every time you cried because of me and for me, but so much of who I’ve become is tangled up in who you are. I hope that feels like a compliment. You’re like a private executive genie who has always made my every wish come true, no matter how big or small. So from today onwards, I am going to be your genie instead. If you ever need anything, all you need to do is wish and I’ll make it happen. I promise to break my phone with a hammer so I can spend more time with you (just kidding). I can at least promise to not glue myself to the phone when you are around. If I don’t, you can always confiscate my phone (after at least 3 first warnings and 3 last warnings).
And the most important thing, you put me first all the time, and I think we need to talk about how you need now to start putting yourself first, and stop worrying so much about us and how we are and start thinking about how you are. I’m thankful to you for a million, billion and trillion things. From your emphasis on vegetables to limiting our screen time, you’ve been an amazing mom. Thank you for the laundry, the housekeeping, the care when I was sick, the special treats on special occasions or on no occasion at all. Thank you for giving me advice when I needed it and space when I needed that as well. And trust me, I’ll always mourn the end of my childhood, though you keep saying that the child in me won’t ever die.
I Love You so much and I can’t ever tell you that enough. I hope you live longer than me, because I don’t want to die twice. I love you and I love you and I love you.
“How do I love thee? Let me count
I love thee to the depth and breadth
My soul can reach, when feeling out of sight
For the ends of being and ideal grace.
I love thee to the level of every day’s
Most quiet need, by sun and candle-light.
I love thee freely, as men strive for right.
I love thee purely, as they turn from praise.
I love thee with the passion put to use
In my old griefs, and with my childhood’s faith.
I love thee with a love I seemed to lose
With my lost saints. I love thee with
Smiles, tears, of all my life; and, if
I shall but love thee better after death.”
So, here’s to more laughs, fewer tears, and – let’s face it – a few more family whodunits about who took the last piece of candy out of the bowl.
Happy Mother’s Day, Amu.
(The weirdest among the three visitors of your womb)
—The writer is a bachelor’s student at Aligarh Muslim University. [email protected]