Being Women

The Warmth Of Memories: A Mother’s Regret And Unconditional Love

There is nothing that I can do to erase the past. I conveniently and coldly say so, but I’m not a cold mother.

Dear Son,

When I’m cold and gone, I hope you will remember my warm hugs and wet kisses. Maybe you will not—no offence to that. But what I pray for is for you to is to forget me waking you up on cold winter mornings so that you don’t miss the school bus. 

The warmth of my hugs and kisses

At the crack of dawn, when the sun was too lazy to peer out of the sky, I used to wake you up. Sometimes, the water wasn’t hot enough to warm you, but we rushed through the ritual of a bath. ‘Bath we must!’ My dictum would upset you. Yet, the obedient boy in the sullen state would obey his mother.

The parathas with extra ghee

Loading you with woollens that looked funny, I would pack you off to school. I wish you would forget the cruelty of those mornings. Believe me, I would try to compensate for it by smearing your parathas with extra ghee. Somehow, that wouldn’t please you. Every day I prayed to God to not indulge me in the sin of waking a peacefully sleeping boy on winter mornings. But the devil got the better out of me.

The stern and firm grip that dragged you out of bed

Yes, to make you the person you are today, those stern, firm grips on your arm to drag you out of the cosy bed were necessary. I had to tell myself it was a matter of a few years, and then this drama would end. My son would be a successful man who could get up at his desired time. I’m so sorry that the time never came. I kept pushing you for higher goals, and you kept escalating. Now, when I ask you to sleep a little more and stay back a little longer while sipping tea with me, the laid-back attitude won’t come.

Sometimes, it all felt like a conspiracy against me

I wish I had allowed you to bunk school for no reason. I wish I had let you miss that school bus that was full of shattering teeth and shivering kids. I couldn’t even see you wave goodbye through the misty window. Sometimes, it all felt like a conspiracy against me. Nature’s conspiracy to keep the mother hen away from her fledgling. 

Believe me, son, I cried bitter tears…

Believe me, son, I cried bitter tears, running like a glacier on my chalky skin. I bit my chapped lips to feel the pain of your discomfort. The dreary winter mornings made my coffee cold as I sat thinking about how the cold must be biting into your skin while in school. The dull grey sky laughed at my apathy. Maybe it knew the futility of my efforts. You were always a bright child. A few moments of snuggling in bed wouldn’t have taken away your success. I wish this realisation would have come to me then. 

Please…I am not a cold mother

There is nothing that I can do to erase the past. I conveniently and coldly say so, but I’m not a cold mother. While trying to make you a successful person, I toughened up, but never neglected, your needs. There was no hidden goal or motive in waking you up on those chilly winter mornings. A mother only wanted her son to stand strong in every storm and the shortcomings of life. 

Those popsicles on the coldest day?

Hey, but was it all that gloomy and drab? Remember us having Popsicles on the coldest evening in winter? Both of us would come down with a sore throat. Your Dadi (grandmother) would blame the dropping temperatures for our sneezing and coughing. While we, the wicked ones, pretended to be innocent. Fight the cold with cold, eet ka jawab patthar se. I still remember how frozen your tongue would get. For a few moments, you spoke with a lisp. 

Maniya and the warm milk

Once, we found a kitten in our society’s garden. Dadu was terrified of having pets at home. So we kept the kitten, all warm and fuzzy, in a box in our garage. We later discovered that it had a fractured bone. We tended to him for the entire winter. You secretly stole warm milk from the kitchen and tiptoed to feed Maniya. I laughed so hard at your choice of name. But you, who by then had a mind of your own, cared lest what the world or even me, thought of it.

Maniya stayed with us for barely three months. One morning, you found the box empty and cried for three long days. Despite the sorrow, you kept the hope of finding Maniya alive again. Since then, we have petted nearly thirteen stray cats without anybody’s knowledge.

Let the warm memories remain

My son, I can go on with the secrets we shared. I hope you will only have warm memories of winter in your heart. The winter evenings when we cuddled together to read a picture book would occupy a sizeable chunk of our memory rather than the winter mornings.

When I’m cold and gone, I hope these beautiful memories will keep you warm.


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