The following piece of prose is published under An Archive for Our Mothers — a literary archive created by All Ears to celebrate Mothers' Day 2021.
Just another evening, Maa teases the thought of singing in front of a crowd again, going through a mental list of songs that had only seen the walls of our home, I have never seen this kind of happiness before, the more I watch her smile, the more warm I feel. If love was a feeling, it would be a mother’s smile.
If I come to think of it, no one really taught me, told me to love my mother. They expected it to come to me naturally, but didn't specify how. If I come to think of it, for the longest time, I didn't really love Maa, I simply liked her for doing for me what I wouldn’t do for myself and what no one else would dream to.
I think I was six or so, when I first realized my mother wasn’t a celestial being, some kind of superhero, someone too incredible to be human. But the truth about her strength only really hit me last year.
Sometime, I go back to that time, and try to live it through Maa’s eyes, looking at her only daughter, a thing of beauty and potential sobbing to pain, hands clasped around the wheelchair. While I struggled to exist, she clung onto hope, praying, dreaming of the day she’d see me smiling, walking on my own feet again.
There’s something about pain, agony, the kind that comes too soon and lasts too long. There’s something it does to the way you look at things, at the people around you, like a kind of rain, that pulls off rose tinted glasses and washes off the rest.
I can see Maa now, clearer than I ever have. I don’t see the cute little lady joking around about how much time she had when she was my age to pursue a hobby and make a living. I see a woman , independent, strong, determined, the stuff of feminists and superheroes, changing five modes of transport to get to her Hindustani Classical vocal lessons after working hours, travelling back again, it would be dark by the tie she got home but she didn’t rest, she got back to her riyaaz, practicing for as long as she could until it was time to sleep.
Every time she talks to me about her favorite poem, I remember the day I found diary of hers, the one filled with poems she wrote to me, one of them thanking me for coming in her life, another apologizing for her flaws and everything she might not be able to give me. I think I cried that day.
Some times, these days we talk about the year that passed, she smiles and says she’s proud of me for surviving. I always focus on her eyes, and find a billion silent prayers and a single teardrop threatening to fall.
Today I see Maa as she is, a woman as soft as rose petals floating on water and as strong as the Mountains she belongs to, and I wonder what she might have achieved had I never been in the equation.
Today, I feel Maa in my bones.
That Mehdi Hassan ghazal she hums often, that crinkling of her eyes as she laughs, that poetry she finds in everything, that zest for life that keeps her going.
And if I come to think of it, I never really loved her, I don't think a four letter word can do justice to all she’s done, to what I feel for her, in fact I don't think I can ever really love her.
How do I love someone akin to a goddess, someone I don’t deserve? Do I have the authority to do that?
Can you? Let a four lettered word decide your existence?
That's what I thought.
By: Adritanaya Tiwari
Read: This Week's Publication
Get Published: Read Submission Guidelines