Thursday, August 28, 2008

Phenomenal Woman

Today is my mum’s b’day. When I was a kid, the elder sibling and I would be up late, the previous night, decking up the fridge for her to see in the morning. Most times it’d be a card, sometimes an elaborate chart with a poem, or a few ribbons tacked up in what I thought was a representation of my mother’s colourful persona.

When I grew up, the hand-made cards made way for gifts: a beautiful orange ceramic dinner set that took up most of my first pay, and which turned out to be so heavy and cumbersome, that it has been relegated to the crockery cabinet in the attic. Some books, and a piece of jewellery that is a proud part of her small, but beautiful collection.

And though these gifts brought me joy, they never came close to the satisfaction of that garishly decorated fridge, because, perhaps, there was no ‘real’ effort on my part. Yesterday, as Nino and I made cards for mum, part of the glee came back. Eventually we were fighting over who really was making the card, till Nino’s dad wisely stepped in and gave us two separate card stocks. While the end product is far from finished (can’t put it up here, incase mum checks) – we will be seeing her over the weekend – there are more similarities than you’d imagine. My lines may be straighter, my imagination more tangible, but the colours are the same garish blend of un-inhibited child-like glee.

It’s impossible to imagine my life without my mum around: with her pep talks and torrent of love, words of advice and kind forgiveness. And I know, my mum, who brings in this birthday a fortnight after losing her own mum, will find little to rejoice over today. But I hope you know Ma, that we’re marking it as a full-fledged card-making, cake-chomping, riot-ensuing day, and even have Nino go to bed half-an-hour later than school-night bed-time. I hope you remember it’s a Happy day for both your daughters and three grandchildren. Dida and I will be thinking back to childhood: racing to see you at the main gate when you got back from office, Dida inadvertently tripping on something. Memories of you towering over me in a maroon saree with big polka dots. Opening your purse on the sly to smell the small perfume bottle inside. Going to sleep on the swing listening to you sing along with Vivida Bharati. Sharing novels with you. Having you clutch out hands as we brought our children into this world. And seeing the same love and joy reflected on Nino’s face as he races me to greet you at the main gate when we come home. Love you Ma: happy b’day.

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