A letter to Kamala

Dear Mama

Today is Mother's day! I do not know why there has to be a Mother's day as for me every day is Mother's day. You may have left me 23 years ago but there has not been a single day I have not remembered you. You have been with me every moment from the time I last held you on that fateful June day. You gave me the gift of life, the most precious gift anyone can offer, but you also showed me how to live the life you gave me. From the time I was a little girl, you took me by the hand and set out on a journey that has not ended even when you left this world. You live in every breath I take. True some memories have yellowed faded like the this picture has. I sometimes need to ferret in the umpteen boxes of photographs that lie in a corner of the house to recollect the less than four decades we shared in different corners of the world. There are the very professional pictures taken by photographers where you are always dressed to perfection, your hair in place, your sari impeccably draped and your beautiful smile ever present. But there are also the personal photographs, taken with a shaky hand and probably with the wrong settings. These are the true repository of our lives and somehow in most if not all of them, I find myself, be it as a baby, a toddler, a school going child or a rebellious teenager. No matter what you were photographing, your child had to be there. This discovery made me realise the extent of your love for me.

You are the one who wanted a battalion of children but got only one, as your son was taken from you even before you could hold him. No wonder then that you smothered me with your love. You had to make this one child worthy of your love. And that is not all. How can I forget that you are the one who were willing to accept life as an old maid rather than give birth to a child in a enslaved India. Your  incredible love for this land made sure that your child never forget the fact that she was first an Indian. Though we lived in faraway lands across the glove, you made sure my mother tongue would be Hindi. Your way was simple: you never spoke to me in any other language. I must have been 5 or 6 when I realised that you knew other languages. And talking of languages what an incredible woman you were!  You, a girl from a small town suddenly propelled into the international arena by virtue of the profession of the man you married and whose husband was steeped in French culture, learned French on the sly to be able to gift the man you loved a very special birthday present: the ability to speak the language he loved. You were truly to the manor born.

I fell in love with you the instant you first held me. That Mama was instinctive love. But I have a secret to share with you, and what better day than today, Mother's day! I fell in love all over again with you after your left when I had the sagacity and maturity to understand what an incredible woman you were. I wish I could tell you that in person. I wish I could ask your forgiveness for the times I may have hurt you inadvertently. I realise today that everything I am or have achieved is because you were my mother. 

In the past decade or so, I have tried to walk a path that encompassed all that you held as true: your love for the land, your fight for women's equality,  your passion for education, your compassion for the downtrodden, your belief that everything was possible if we had the courage to take the first step. I hope you are proud of me. 

I do not know why I feel your presence around me, urging to take a final look at my life, wanting me to dare to jump in the void without a parachute and see whether I have the wings needed to fly.

For you, I will take that final leap!

I love you mama

your daughter

anou