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Ides of March

By Nickunj Malik - Mar 14,2018 - Last updated at Mar 14,2018

Today would be exactly fifteen years since I last saw my mother, heard her voice, or felt her touch. It was on the Ides of March that she breathed last, and each year of surviving her, has been a personal struggle for me.

Why is it that this missing never really subsides and the profound sense of loss does not diminish? Time heals all wounds, it is said, but nobody clearly specifies how lengthy that span is: ten years? Twenty-five years? Fifty? Eternity? Who can say?

Also, one is told not to mourn the dead so intensely because it disturbs the departed soul on its onward journey. But one is never taught how to stop mourning or how to cope with the bereavement. The annual Mother’s Day comes and goes, with alarming regularity, when those of us who have lost our mums, feel their absence even strongly. We long to have one more conversation with her, make her laugh once again, watch her eyes glaze with love, feel the warmth of her hug or the softness of her frail hand as it caress our brow. 

My mom had very small hands. They were so tiny that she wore bangles, which were two inches in diameter, almost a kiddie size. I tried them when I was a teenager but soon outgrew them. After she passed away, I treasured the intricately designed pieces but could not bear to have them altered to fit me. The memory of the wrists they had adorned, was very precious to me.

Ever since I had left home, one important part of my day was devoted to speaking to my mother on the phone. For quite sometime after her death, I used to wake up in the morning and reach for the handset, in order to call her. Her number was on speed-dial and I would automatically press the button before realising that she would not be answering from the other end of the line.

Our daughter, who was just a child then, saw me falling apart. She would give me frequent hugs and sit for long periods without speaking, letting the silence soothe us. I felt her pain too because with my mother’s passing, she had lost both her grandmothers, two brilliant women who would have engulfed her in unconditional love.

As she grew older, the resemblance started to show and our daughter became a genetic amalgam of both sides of the family. I hoped that the singing voice that I inherited from my mother would get passed on to her too and she would manage to make the songs that her grandmother sang, immortal. Let us just say that it was not to be.

When her wedding date was set, I attempted one last time to teach her a few traditional marriage ditties. She either laughed outright, or crooned them so listlessly that I was compelled to ask her to stop. 

“Why don’t you have anything in common with my mother?” I whispered exasperatedly. 

“Can I wear these mom?” our daughter called out to me. 

I looked around to see her fidgeting with my mum’s bangles. 

“They won’t fit you. Nani had small hands,” I cautioned. 

“You mean petite? Like this?” she asked, slipping them on with ease. 

“Wow! You have your Nani’s hands,” I exclaimed. 

I lifted her delicate wrists and kissed them.

“Can I borrow her jewellery,” she sang out.

“It’s all yours,” I smiled, blinking back tears.

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Comments

A beautifully poignant ode to your revered Mother. Grief is an intensely personal matter and can never be even understood by anyone else, let alone be shared.

But what one can share is the end becoming a beginning. To give a realistic spin to an oft quoted saying- child is the mother of woman. A daughter is indeed a mother who remains, always by our sides. A living antidote to the ides.

Oh my! I would've written the same story fifteen years from now! So beautifully described! It's true no one teaches how to cope with bereavement!

I could relate my self to each line written by you. Beautifully penned down. Missing Mom!

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