These days I am far too self-absorbed. Even now, I am a very Happy Barday kind of person, and I did not pick up any token gift for my mother for today, no card, nothing…I just felt so listless. Then last night at 11.30 I realised I had a few things which I keep buying, so I put them together, pulled out a sheet of paper, sketched something – a tree with strong roots and the face of a woman and another woman behind her…and jotted down, “Jab meri jadd itni mazboot hai main kamzor kaise ban sakti hoon? (When my roots are so strong how can I ever be weak?)”
A few years ago, I had written something and I feel like reproducing it here again…
It was 3 am and I could not sleep. I felt like making a card, but could not find that thick paper. I needed to make that card. I had not given one to Ammi for her birthday. I wasn't there that time. Perhaps for the first time. We don't do anything much, I like to think that my presence is enough. I know it is. How wonderful it is to be so certain for a change...
I was in a different time zone, I had set the alarm on my cell phone to call exactly at midnight her time. The drone of cars whizzing past on the motorway was drowning my voice. We steered the car into a lane that surprisingly showed up. People rushing to destinations were blinking lights on the horizon. I dialled the number and said “Happy Birthday...sorry...” and I burst into tears.
She had earlier told me that all this birthday thing was nonsense and I should just do my thing. But now she was crying too. We mumbled words that neither of us remembers and then I asked, “Shall I write a poem for you?” Of course, she would love that. I asked for five minutes. I scrawled words. I called back and read them out and there was more crying.
“Now, why are you crying?” I asked her.
“It is so touching...”
“Shall I sing a song?” I asked. I knew that my constant humming would be missed...she said yes...
“Jab deep jaley aana...”
I coughed slightly and sang, not quite full-throated, a bit breathless, a bit choking...and then we both smiled. We heard each other smile.
When I returned home days later, she asked me, “Did you not feel awkward when you started crying knowing that you were not alone?”
No. I was being myself. I cried, I wrote, I sang. I do all of these...there was no pretence in any...so why should I feel awkward? And Ammi touched my hand and said, “Aur woh gaana bhi sahee tarah se nahin gaaya...ni-re-ga pehle aata hai...order ulta tha!”
“Tau uss waqt bataa detey...”
And then we did our mocking at ourselves act and said, “Oh, woh kitna emotional moment tha!”
It is the truth. We can laugh at it because it will always be with us.