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” .
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.