The letter

My mother wrote me a letter last November , for my birthday.

The day it arrived, I was going to the mall with one of the very few friends I made in Jersey City. I grabbed my mail and exit the building from the back door while my friend watched me quizzically. Why did you use the backdoor?  He asked. The mailbox is at the back, I told him. I read the letter sitting in his car, then in the mall, sitting on a bench in the lobby. I watched as a young mother and her squealing toddler played hide and seek. My friend had a haircut. When he was done, we walked around in East Meets West and he bought incense. When he left , I went back to my bench and read the letter again.

She wrote beautifully. She ended the letter wishing me and Darling all the best in everything we do.

When we left Jersey City, I packed all my books and postcards and letters in the shipping boxes, the letter, in one of them.

We came back, a month later amma died and another month later, the boxes arrived and in it, the letter. Her voice echoed in my ears once more. It was as if I found her again, even though I can never have her back.

“No matter what happens in your life, do not lose courage.” she wrote.

Funny you should say that ma. I want to tell her. She would have grinned. I’d love to give into despair especially¬†since you’ve been gone and life feels like a long nightmare. She would’ve crunched up her face before saying “oh but you can do this” .

Oh ma.

I wish she was here. But I have this letter and even though it could never be the same thing , I have her words and I hold onto them for dear life.

In my longest, darkest days, let them light the way.

The way she loved me.

I miss the way my mother used to smile. I haven’t been out all that often since of late, but whenever I met someone and their mother, I felt like I was searching for my own mother in them. Traces of kindness, friendship, love, empathy. So much empathy.

Do you think all mothers are created equal? I once asked her , after I had been snubbed for being an outsider, by a friend’s mum. People are vastly different from one another putha. She said. But all mothers love the same way. I remember not being particularly pacified , but her words managed to make an impression on me ; that she was able to look above someone’s meanness. This seems to have been a recurring theme in her life. I have been stung by the prejudices of other people just as many times as I have been stung by my own, and it was her words that helped me when I had to face people who didn’t seem to quite like me. I could take a deep breath and remind myself that these people deserved my kindness, if not for their attitude towards me but because maybe they were able to love other people the way my mother loved us.

If you have ever been kind to me, please know that I’ve thought of your kindness in likeness to some of the ways my mother was kind to me. Should I ever do anything for you, be it something as small and as simple as making you a cup of tea, please know that I am trying to pass on the light my mother gave me.

I miss her. I miss her presence, I miss the whole of her. This void is limitless. Her smile, her cool skin ( which was always a wonder to me as my own skin has been compared to a coal oven ) , the drops of water on her shoulders after a bath, her big belly laugh.. But I try not to miss her love.

Her love, is eternal.