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Yesterday once more

By Nickunj Malik - Mar 18,2015 - Last updated at Mar 18,2015

“April is the cruellest month”, said TS. Eliot in his epic poem “The Waste Land”. But for me personally, I pick March. To be the most cruel month in the annual calendar, that is. 

There are two things that contribute towards it being so bittersweet. The first is that Mother’s Day is celebrated throughout the world on this particular month. And secondly, the Ides of March, the exact date on which I lost my own mom, also falls in this month. So, while the rest of the world is applauding their mums I find myself mourning mine. 

The soothsayer in Shakespeare’s “Julius Caesar” warningly predicted, “beware the Ides of March”. The Roman emperor shrugged it off but was stabbed to death before the end of the day. Nobody cautioned me of its perils but even if they had, how could I prepare myself to deal with it? 

My dearest mother, struggling with an incurable cancer, was in immense pain. Part of me, who was nursing her, would pray for her release but another part of me would selfishly want her to live on. At least she was there, in front of me, in flesh and blood, though with her eyes closed and breathing laboured, she was there. She existed. But in the early hours of that evening, she ceased to be so. 

I firmly believe that the umbilical cord that attaches an infant to its mother does not get severed at the birth of the baby. Although the doctors cut it off physically, in a metaphorical sense, it lingers on. It is invisible to the rest of mankind but it transmutes itself to a sixth sense that every mother has for her offspring.

It’s this bond that wakes them up in the middle of the night when their child is sick in another city, thousands of kilometres apart. It’s this intuition that makes their ears perk up when a “hello mom” is intoned in a different note from the usual, over the telephone. It’s the perception that makes them record your fever exactly by simply feeling your forehead with the palm of their hand. 

My mother was no different. When she was admitted into the ICU and was non responsive to the rest of the world, she could hear me. I spoke to her all the time. I combed her hair and trimmed her toenails and held her hand at length. It is not my imagination that I felt her press my fingers in response. However feeble the gesture was, I could feel it. 

But the numbness came when she passed away. That is when the link that tied me so firmly to my mother was slashed. I felt as if I was being suffocated and for sometime I could not function. My life as I knew it, had changed forever. 

In this transient world, one learns to cope with intense grief also. I internalised the pain but every March the wound sort of resurfaces, and I find myself longing for my mother. 

“You got my card?” our daughter was on the phone. 

“Hello,” I replied. 

‘”You’ve been crying!” she declared. 

“Not at all,” I sniffed. 

“Don’t lie to me,” she scolded. 

“Don’t mother me,” I retorted. 

“Somebody has to,” she stated. 

“What do you want?” I asked. 

“I miss Nani too you know,” she confessed. 

“Happy Mother’s Day,” I said

“You sound like her, ditto,” she announced. 

“And you sound like me, ditto,” I smiled.

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