Happy birthday! You would have been 72 today. I always imagined you as rather frail, super-cheerful, gentle-looking and always busy over the years. I have to confess that I never even imagined you in your 70s, because you were always so youthful in your attitude. Sometimes I think, perhaps I should have visualized you in your 70s…perhaps you would have lived longer.
I never imagined a time when you wouldn’t be around. Today, seven years without you, I often wonder how we’ve carried on with life. As you rightly said, life goes on, no matter what. It is up to us to hold the love in our hearts as we attempt to be our best selves.
I miss you when I start my day and like to think that you are smiling over me when I light the lamp, and sometimes imagine hearing your voices when I strike three dud matchsticks before actually lighting the wick and adjusting it.
I miss how I irritated you by hugging you suddenly from behind when you were busy doing something, and yet you always turned around to cuddle me back. How did you put up with me so patiently and lovingly?
You taught me the true meaning of unconditional love. And even treated my friends like your daughters, never forgetting them each time you bought me something. You know, yesterday I clicked a photo of me and sent it to T, wishing her a happy New year and she wrote back saying that I looked so much like you. That made me happy. Although, no surprise there, eh?
Isn’t it funny how we expect a special day to be so different–and yet it goes on like most other days. I woke up early since Sury had an early flight and dozed on and off until 6 a.m. Then decided to have coffee. Today when I took it to the verandah I heard a few crows cawing. I remembered how you’d always claim that it meant we’d have a guest and smiled. I caw-cawed back at the crow and could have sworn it replied to me and looked at me for a while.
After a while I had breakfast as usual, and recalled how excited we used to get when we made idlis and had coconut chutney to go with them, and relished every bit, and saved the leftovers carefully. This brought with it the cozy memory of the days when we’d quickly cook and take a walk around the area, exploring, then buying veggies before picking Vidur up from playschool. Remember that time you tirelessly made batches and batches of burfis because Vidur wanted to distribute it to everyone he saw on his birthday?
Sigh. Today, as usual I ended up calling the Airtel guys to lodge a complaint and their engineer spent the better part of two hours checking the lines and whatnot before declaring it was okay. Let’s see.
I had some sambhar and rice in the fridge and heated it for lunch, accompanied by salad. The idea of making rotis had to be postponed, what with the fellas walking in and out.
It is a rather quiet-ish day otherwise, with just the sounds from the neighborhood keeping me company as I attempt to lethargically work.
Ah, you are wondering what I did for your birthday, no? I organized lunch for the girls at Seva Sadan. There are 82 girls there now, you know. This year I also added to their medical fund, since not many people give on that front. I will be supporting some children at the school for the blind, as well.
You know I’ve been decluttering, and have been giving away lots of stuff. I still have a lot of ground to cover, but I’ll get there. Remember the 400+ books we gave away before we moved cities? How much we enjoyed our friendly fights over who would get to read a new book first! I feel deeply grateful for the stacks of books your school librarian generously sent me, marveling at the speed at which I devoured books. I want to cry when I see my stash of Sophie Kinsellas or the crime thriller novels, or when I see a police procedural on TV. We were drawn to court scenes like magnets.
I am always especially thrilled that M is always on 15 April, and I can dedicate this post to you. I am not worried that this letter of sorts sounds somewhat disjointed. I talk to you so much in my head that this doesn’t come anywhere close to being satisfactory. Also, I write the diary. So therapeutic, Mi. It helps me put things in perspective besides giving me the satisfaction of getting it all out.
I know you’ll be proud of me for enjoying cooking and spending time in the kitchen, experimenting with different dishes. I imagine you happily smiling at me and feel your soft hand on my head. And yeah, you’re probably telling me to take better care of myself. I promise to do that. “Self-care is very important” you said, but I didn’t always listen.
In spite of all that you went through, you taught me to believe that life is too short to be anything but happy, and that it is up to us to make the choice. You were a champ at finding magic in the mundane. I try, most days. I am still amazed at how you were always so full of humor over everything and made me laugh so much!
To celebrate today, I spruced up the kitchen a little and caught up with pending roasting- I had coriander seeds, flax seeds, sooji and watermelon seeds to roast and keep. Otherwise, you know what will happen. As I worked, I pretended you were with me, laughing, joking, suggesting a nice strong cup of coffee.
I love you, Mi, and if there’s another life for us, I wish you are my daughter, so I can pamper you and shower you with love.
Happy birthday, Mi!
As per my Mom’s last wish, we donated her body to St.John’s Medical College, Bangalore. She was generous in life, generous in death.