Eventually, I recognized what she meant to me, and that was the day I knew I had grown up. Two years ago, I left her, my mother and him, my father behind and moved to distant shores. The first few days of being away from them and the rest of the family were thrilling. I was independent to wake and sleep when I wanted to; eat or not when I wished, free to be as I wanted to be. And after the initial excitement of the freedom wore-off, there was this dull, but sometimes searing ache that would seep through my senses and numb my being.
Yesterday, I had been away from them two years, and the dull ache has intensified. While everyone had informed me that it would gradually fade away, for me it has always been otherwise - the need for them has increased, steadily, stealthily. There is not a day I spend when my thoughts have not gone back to that wonderful, kind, understanding, patient and giving woman - my mother and my equally (if not more so) great sire. And it took a separation of a few time zones to help come to an understanding of what this relationship means.
Those years have been condensed into spark-like memory flashes - where none of the strife, none of the growing-up years' squabbles with my mother have survived. All that I ever see is here face lit up with joy when she saw me when I returned for a brief visit, her tears as she stood at the airport to see me off once again, not knowing when she would see me again.
And as I write this, a thick film of tears is forming in my eyes that would cloud all that I started to write. I had wanted to document how I moved apart from her, how I never found a friend in her in my adolescent years, and what all she should have done to cement our relationship when I needed her most. Somehow, I am trying my best to dig in my memory, and nothing comes to mind - not one of her scolding, not one of the reasons for my incessant tears, none of my tantrums or her anger.
All I can recall are those long strolls, those endless drives we took together, the unending chat, going to the bazaar together - be it to buy vegetables, supplies - anything. These visions of us together are firmly etched in my memory. These lonely, timeless, sad yet beautiful carvings on tombstones, they refuse to fade away despite the passage of eons of months between these incidents and me. Even after two years of being away from her, dreams of us together again, wake me up often in the still and lonely nights and I know these would be steady reminders of the years I spent by her side. Sometimes, even before I crash to the bed, I know that thoughts of her and my father would not let me sleep again that night. Somehow, it feels that umbilical
cord has tied me up with her again, when I physically moved away from her.
She hasn't had much happiness, you know. Probably it was in her nature to be anxious about everything. It was probably because of her anxiety that my adolescent years, I spent resenting her. Then like a whiff of a sudden pleasant breeze, it changed. We gradually surmounted the insurmountable, and our disagreements were buried; though not forgotten. Then came a three-year period where she and I were inseparable. Everything we did, we did together. But even that
closeness I shared with her when I was no more a teenager is nothing compared to the colossal loss I feel now that I am physically located a few thousand light years away from her. She is that gentle tree, swaying in the breeze, protecting me in her nurturing shade. If ever I have a moment to reflect, my thoughts always go back to her.
I would never have imagined that the woman I always fought with, would become the fulcrum of my life. It's amazing how she is my inspiration to live and, perhaps, to die as well. No wonder then, she is not only my guiding light, my anchor, but my saint as well. Is it sacrilegious that whenever I sit down for my prayers, I pray to my father and mother, and not the established pantheon of Gods and Goddesses in Indian culture?
An ocean of wisdom has dawned on me, an insight that came only with age - or was it with distance? I have no idea what she taught me or what I learned from her - what values, what culinary skills, and what house-management. I am aware of just one fact - my mother is my only religion, and I am a theist.
In a month I shall return to her embrace - and that is all that matters.