Wrote this for my mother’s birthday in 2014. That year had shown us many things, but the one that stands out for me is the distance of the Indian Ocean between us. It was an untitled piece at the time, but over the years I have come to realise that this one suits it best.
Being the first to hear someone’s heart beat from the inside comes with its own perks. I know every wrinkle, every tear, and the reason behind every smile.
It’s a privilege getting to know someone like that.
I know, your day begins with the cries of your toddler. You wake up knowing your family is safe. You stand up, proud of your achievements as a professional, a mother, a woman. You see yourself ageing. Your dark crown rooted in grey wisdom. The scars of battles past fiercely line your face in the mirror on the bathroom wall. I know.
You light the fire, providing your men food. For stomach, for thought, for soul – and yet you taste none of it. You fast. Penance, you think. Karma, you believe. Choiceless, you observe. I know.
You leave home in a flurry of activity, hopes, expectations, demands, anger, and the desire to succeed. You sit down to work. Violently pushing away thoughts you consider a hindrance: like the chance for some quiet. Like the chance to sip your coffee without worrying about cooking meals. Like the chance to read, to savour every page, devour every scene without having to think about whose time you’re eating into. I know.
You work. You communicate. You teach. You breathe, if only for a second. You rush to catch and pin down your ideas. You leave, knowing you will only return to this solace the next day. I know.
You want to slam the door shut in frustration as you bundle yourself into the car. I know.
you return home. Your joy shines through as you see your youngest. Your heart swells with bound commitment as you see your husband. You return to your stereotypical normalcy. You drift off to sleep, still juggling the roles of the home-maker and the breadwinner. Dreamless. Fitful. Broken.
You wake up, and dance once again to the same tunes. The same routine. I know.
I know you. A different you.
You wake up knowing your children adore you. You bring us the best the world has to offer on a plate, in a mug, on a car ride to school. You bring us your best.
You leave home knowing that you inspire your students to look beyond what they see. You improve as an academic everyday. You better yourself every minute. We all recognize this. Some openly, others grudgingly.
You leave work knowing your son is waiting for you on the other side of that front door. Waiting with all his new words, antics, and disarming smiles.
Its no surprise you are waiting for them too.
You return home to find the bitter-sweet. You return home to Life.
You drift off to the same broken hours of sleep, but with a dream that only you know. A dream that only you dream. A dream of how blessed your life truly is, despite all the bumps and burns along the way. A dream not many people have. A dream of contentment.
I know, everyone wished you a happy birthday – and they even got you presents, cake, and orange balloons.
I know I didn’t do or say much. And it can certainly never match up to “…Appy budday Mummy!” I know.
I wanted my wish to be the one which reminds you that you deserve to be appreciated and loved everyday for the courageous and beautiful person you are.
Happy birthday Ma. May we celebrate many more together, no matter how many oceans dare to separate us.