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Tears in heaven

By Nickunj Malik - Mar 09,2016 - Last updated at Mar 09,2016

I have often wondered, for no particular reason, that if I ever met my mother again, would she be able to recognise me? Will she know my name if I saw her in heaven, for instance? Would it be the same? As more and more time elapses since her passing away, I find myself plagued by these worries. 

The lyrics of Eric Clapton’s song ‘tears in heaven’ trigger my thoughts, and then it becomes difficult for me to truncate them. Would she hold my hand, will she help me stand? Will she even know that I was her daughter and how very terribly I miss her? Would it really be the same? Our relationship, that is.

The loss of one’s mother is irreparable and irreversible. Both the terms mean one and the same thing but the pain goes deeper than that also. All the spoken and written languages of the world have yet to come up with a word or phrase that can accurately describe this gut wrenching agony. My mom bid her final adieu to me in March, 13 years ago. On paper it is more than a decade, but in fact it seems just like the other day that I was with her. 

For someone who used to regularly trim my hair when I was young, as my mother aged, she trained me to cut her hair. It was a complete role reversal. She liked to sit on her favourite chair in the terrace after breakfast, ask me to spread a newspaper on the ground behind her and hand me the scissors. The first time I took the clippers I thought she was joking. I clicked it experimentally in the air and got my ears boxed immediately. Aimlessly clicking of the scissors was considered inauspicious she explained. 

The amazing thing about my mom was the confidence with which she got her haircut by a rank amateur. Her self-assurance and trust would invariably seep into me and my hands stopped trembling. I would dip her comb in a plastic mug of water, run it through her hair and then in one clean sweep, clip her hair in a straight line. 

Initially, the bits that fell on the floor were pitch black in colour but gradually they turned dark grey and then a lighter shade of grey. She did not live long enough for her hair to turn completely white. The last haircut I gave her was just two weeks before she left for the hospital from where she never returned. Not in her living form anyway. 

Even in the midst of a most devastating cancer treatment that involved the debilitating chemotherapy, she did not lose any of her lustrous hair. No sooner had I arrived to look after her, in a ritual that I was now familiar with, she sat up in bed, pointed at the scissors and encouraged me to style her hair in any way that I wanted to. These final shared moments were pure joy and will stay with me for as long as I live. 

“What will happen after that?” said the voice in my head. 

“After what,” asked our daughter? 

“After meeting Nani in heaven,” I confided. 

“You are not going there anytime soon,” she spoke firmly. 

“Will she know my name?” I questioned. 

“Yes and she will also demand a haircut,” she stated. 

“Really?” I exclaimed. 


“Yup! No more tears in heaven,” she concluded, hugging me.

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