It’s finally time. I’ve NEVER spoken about my Mom on a public platform or for that matter, I don’t even talk about her with my friends or my family, because talking or even thinking about her feels worse than dying on being stabbed with the sharpest knife a one thousand and ninety-nine times into infinity. But, I’ll do that today. I’ll take the one thousand and ninety-nine stabs into infinity today. And I promise to write here some things, that nobody yet knows about me!
I always have and always shall believe any good I’ve ever done, and every good I’ll ever do is all because of the kind of person my mother was. She was such a beautiful soul it wets my eyes to even think about the kinds of downs she had to face in life. She was brilliant and flawless in all she did. She clearly defined perfectionism for me; the perfect daughter, the perfect sister, the perfect daughter in law, the perfect sister-in-law, the perfect aunt and hands down the best mother on planet.
I’ve had people tell me, it’s my father who’s raised me, which isn’t entirely correct. Because if she hadn’t instilled the kind of morals, character and ethics in me that she did, I wouldn’t be any of what I am today. My father did, however, polish all my qualities (the good ones!) and help maintain my sanity and ‘poise’, if you may.
From having lost her first child a couple of days after he was born and third child before he was even born and having to bear people say the wildest stuff regarding the matter to having to lose her hair on receiving chemotherapy, and the way she battled it all without actually raising her voice or lowering her character or standards once, would always put me in awe of her integrity.
Being an only child, she treasured me more than anyone and anything else in the world. She was an extra-ordinary student and a pioneer of many activities during her university life and a genius lawyer, but she left all that to devote her time to her extremely loving (ailing) parents and two of her equally loving and caring siblings (that were paraplegic and one of whom passed away hardly seven months after her death-another blow to whatever of me was left!) and my Dad and I. Something nobody can ever deny. I still look at her trophies and wonder where she would have been, if life had been slightly more fair to her.
What often amazes me is how she kept teaching me to do good, stand for the right and keep a strong character not only during her life but also to this day (5 years, 8 months, and 14 days post her death!). Every single time I face a situation or go through a turmoil, I think to myself, “What would Ma do?” and there, I just have the answer! I remember this one time, while she was admitted to the hospital due to one of her uncountable emergency hospital visits post her cancer diagnosis, I told her if she grew out of her disease, I’ll build a cancer hospital that would treat the poor patients for free and that will have it’s branches all over the world (What a naive 13 year old I was!) and she told me to do that regardless of whether or not she lives through.
She would often tell me she was worried about me and asked me if I would do fine once she passed away. She would often tell me, “I really pray to God to keep me alive till you’re at least 20. You’re too small. I’m worried about you!” and I’d try instilling hope in her. Then often when I’d get sad, she’d say, “Why are you sad? Don’t worry, I’ll not die before marrying you off!” and try instilling hope in me. It was a painful cycle of breaking down inside but trying to back each other up, multiple times a day, for a year and a half and ended only when she passed away on the 24th of August 2010, when I was 15.
To think of the fact she would often try to think to herself and try accepting that she was going to die soon, breaks my heart. Oh the things she had to go through! Despite being the most mature person I’ll ever know, I recall her being just a kid at heart, often. The only sources of entertainment in her life were watching cartoons with me, if she got time out of her everyday bundles of responsibilities and talking with me for one hour or so while we would lay on the bed and I’d slowly drift of to sleep and my last memory on waking up in the morning would be getting my hair or my back stroked by her as she would watch me doze off. She also liked to sit and talk with my Dad and her siblings. I recall her being a natural beauty on the outside too. I’ve only ever seen her with a maroon lipstick and that’s it, all her life!
I remember when the autograph-taking trend newly started. I would often tell her to write something down for me and she would always say that no words on Earth could do any amount of justice to what she truly felt for me! She would always ask for more time to find the right words. Unfortunately, she passed away sooner than she could gather enough words!
My mother was always very scared of the word ‘cancer’, so much so, nobody at our house was supposed to even talk about the barbaric disease; little did she know it would become the cause of her death and the cause of destruction for her loved ones.
I was clearly devastated when she got diagnosed. Ever since my childhood, I had been scared to death of cancer and there I was, trying to breathe as my entire life flashed before my eyes, with just one thought in my head, “We’re ruined!”. Slowly and gradually I developed some hope post talking to my aunts, only to realize later her cancer had spread to her liver from her breast and it was too late to do anything about it. May God not let anyone go through the kind of hell I went through at that time. I was suicidal, depressed and a splitting image of all the pain the humanity had ever felt. I remember shouting, screaming and crying right at the hospital standing between all the crowds as every atom in my body came shattering to the ground after bleeding to the pain of disbelief and fear of the near future. I recall always telling her to be hopeful and always instilling optimism in her before that, after that I recall breaking into tears in the middle of the night, not answering anyone’s questions, hugging her from the back-seat of the car as she would sit in the front seat (Because she had immense body pains and the back seat wasn’t comfortable enough for her any more!) and watching her and my Dad give each other the utmost looks of helplessness, only to have her hold my arms tightly around her neck.
I still remember the last time she was being taken to the hospital. She was slightly disoriented so I had to assist her to sit on a chair and the chair was then picked and moved to the car because she couldn’t on her own. When she sat on the chair she kept holding my hand. She wouldn’t let go of it. She was disoriented but she did not want to let go of me. When they picked up the chair our hands unlocked as they moved further and her arm remained in the same position as long as I was in her line of sight. She knew inside it was the last time we were together. We were each others home. She never wanted to let go. (This paragraph was added on Saturday, 13th May, 2017)
And then, it happened. She passed away. There I was, from being the most pampered child ever, to being in an ambulance, taking her body from one city to the other where we actually lived, about 6 and a half hours away.. From waking up at odd times in the night only to find her looking at me as she lay next to me on bed, to not having slept a single night peacefully post her demise. From being the apple of everyone’s eye in a family as perfect as the ones in fairy tales, to being told I was being evil for not having my father remarried (despite it being entirely his decision!), from being the happiest person everyone knew to being a depressed 15 year old wanting to suicide and only not being able to do so because I cared too much for my father. From getting my face washed and teeth brushed on my bed before being off to school (And hence being that pampered!) to learning how to cook on the first of Ramadan without my mother only to assure my father to not worry about me and that I could handle this, from being on calls with friends for hours to not being able to call my own family members thinking they’ll get tired of me if I did that and so becoming an introvert, from dancing in the rains to locking my room up even when home-alone! From being one of the brightest kids in the class to barely making through any exams because words would just blur out from all the tears curtaining my eyes and I would just not study. From the happiest student of the class to the one sitting at a corner wondering if I’d go home only to find out she’s no more. From seeing my father be the strictest police officer around to watching him cry and sob like a baby, holding me tight across his chest, next to her dead body. From having both of our favorite dishes cooked up without our even asking to my Dad and I sitting in our room and talking about what to eat that specific night. From saving half a part of everything I would eat at my school (from chocolates to cutlets to fries!) to not being able to swallow the smallest piece of crumb because of developing a sore throat on crying nights and days straight on. I’ve lived through everyone’s nightmares, is the bottom-line, but it doesn’t even begin to do justice to it all.
I’ve had people ask me, “Oh, you know, it’s been a while. Why are you still letting it get to you?” or “Oh you’re still depressed about your mother’s death?” or, “Oh, you’re not over it yet?” or “Oh, that’s nothing. People have been through worse!” or, “Oh, just don’t think about it, man!” or “Oh, it compares nothing with what I’ve been through!” and post hearing other such statements of endearment and days and years of getting my struggles and pain belittled often, I’d like you to know, if you’re reading this and have someone go through a situation like mine, please know that it’s not something I choose for myself. I did not choose to have my perfect life toppled over or to lose the most beautiful treasure of my life. I did not choose to have all my dreams shattered because the main pillar of those dreams was gone. I did not choose to have to rearrange my dreams because that was the only option I had. I did not choose to never sleep in peace again. I did not choose to mature years beyond my age. I did not choose to keep on this mask. And because I didn’t choose any of this, I can’t just ‘snap’ out of it.
Home and peace are synonymous to me, now. During my childhood it was any place my mother was at. Now it’s her grave. Nothing feels more home to me than her grave. I remember this one time when I was about 6 or so years old, I woke up late in the morning, only to find out Ma wasn’t home so I was visibly disturbed and my aunt had to make me talk to her on the phone. The only problem was, I somehow ended up believing my mother was trapped inside the receiver of the phone and i could only scream or cry after that. Silly me!
PLEASE know that it can’t ever be over. Please know that the pain never goes away. Please know that it’s an everyday struggle. I won’t be exaggerating if I say I still miss her arm beneath my head when I’m going to sleep. I am out of depression and suicidal thoughts by the help of Almighty and my Dad but a lot of struggles still persist. If I’m quiet it’s not because I’m plotting against someone or cursing someone at heart, but because I’m fighting an inner war. If I remain out of contact, it’s because I’m fighting these monsters my life has created for me. Every time my sincerity or feelings or tears are questioned (Like on her funeral, I couldn’t cry because I didn’t want to upset my paraplegic aunt and uncle whom I shall always so dearly love and who had always been taken care of by my mother and were going through the hardest times themselves because of her demise, were sitting right behind me. And later I heard someone say that I looked not even slightly sad over my mother’s death!), I ask myself what my mother would do and she would ‘forgive’, despite the hurt remaining there forever, at least, you take the burden of someone else’s ugly reflections out of your life and it’s quite satisfying.
This post is finally coming to an end after crying buckets, sitting on my laptop for 5 hours straight-on and many breaks between paragraphs (Because it was too painful to write in one go!). I hope someday I find the strength in me to write more about her!
I’d just like to add one last note here. If you know someone who’s lost a parent or a child or a sibling or a loved one, please look deeper than they’d like to show you. They could possibly be the brightest person you know but inside they could be melting with pain and injuries. Sometimes all one needs is a little faith in themselves and someone understanding them without putting much effort at all. And if you can’t do that for them, take my advice and don’t give them any more pain than they’re already dealing with right now. The fact that they’re dealing with their monsters all on their own, without anyone’s help, is in itself a bigger achievement than all of your’s combined. And if they’re anything like me, they’d never use their struggles to get any sympathy so don’t you dare false-blame them with that!
Just be kind, for trust me, you wouldn’t in a million years want your own daughters or grand-daughters (Or even, sons or grandsons or even your worst enemies, for that matter!) to go through any such turmoils!
What does all this emotional banter have to do with Mother’s Day or my mother? If I hadn’t seen her be such a strong lady, I’d probably not be here today. I had two options, to end my life when I was at the peak of depression or to help others who were battling through situations as painful as mine. I chose the second option. I’m not healed, but I’m at a peaceful place in life now. The credit also alongside goes to my father, for being an unfathomable support to me. For being there to hold me when I’d wake up at three in the night uncontrollably sobbing while sitting on my bed crouched, to cooking for me, to ironing my clothes and investing all his life and energy in making me who I am today. I’m on my way to becoming a doctor and I’m sure I’d be a great one because maybe, the patients’ and the attendants’ feelings will resonate more with mine than with most other professionals, or that’s what I’d like to believe.
Often people ask me what field I’d like to specialize in once I graduate, and I politely say, ‘Oncology’, hiding all the years and stories and tsunamis I’ve lived, behind the most subtle and calm smile they’ve ever witnessed, silently thanking my heavenly mother for everything! 🙂
Oh, and being told I look like her is the most beautiful compliment I could ever receive!
Love and peace.