I remember chiffon in pastel shades with roses in Lavender and Mauve…strappy footwear to match, and perfume… exotic and luxurious… impeccable, coiffeured hair and a regal carriage. That was my mom going for an officers party with my dad. An effortless head-turner who wore her charm like a cape of elegance.
When age demanded that she give up her pencil heels for Doctor Scholls slippers, she fought tooth and nail with her doctor, it didn’t help that she had an Orthopedic surgeon for a son😊.
These were her vintage purses. She put a dainty, fragrant, lace handkerchief in it, maybe be a lipstick, but I cannot be sure.
On a recent visit to her, I became the proud, albeit unworthy recipient of her gorgeous purses. I have neither the charm nor her panache to carry them.
She told me to keep them safely for the one person who could do justice to them… And then I got a surprise call from my daughter asking me if ‘Naani’ had left something precious of hers with me, and I couldn’t help thinking, Yes! Her genes! 😁
Just the simple ritual of hand-beaten coffee before the moms leave for Doon has an unusual sanctity…. We all wait for it…The tray is laden with their favourite snacks and mugs of coffee dispensed. They sip, we discuss myriad topics, their gentle presence adding to the serene atmosphere of the room where they have been room mates for a few days 😊… I admire them unabashedly.. Their beauty, their comfort with each other, their honesty and their strength…
And then they leave. Neat bags all zipped up, smart handbags well arranged with their daily needs, and off they go in a whiff of some floral perfume that they love!
Every day is yours Mom
Just letting you know
My heartbeat is your gift I carry
Everywhere I go… ☺️
She took one last look in the mirror to make sure her hair was in place, smiled and turned to leave. I observed her immaculate attire. Everything was matching to perfection. There was nothing in her demeanour to suggest that she was headed to the hospital. A new day had to be accorded the respect it deserved, she always maintained.
We were driven to the nursing home where mother was to have a small procedure to check the working of her heart. Palpitations some days back had got everyone worried. While the cardiologist was optimistic, so was mom.
I`ll be back in ten minutes and we`ll have a hot coffee together, she assured me as she was wheeled to the OT. We clicked some pictures of her in the smartly tailored hospital outfit. She liked the style and might get some night suits stitched when she got back home.
My mother has been a walker most of her adult life, an independent walker, one who depends on no one for company but herself. She has scant regard for weather or season. Be it peak winter, summer or rains, she can be spotted somewhere on the road, post 5 am, humming her prayers, smiling at fellow walkers, a hello here and a Namaste there. She even pauses to ask the regular beggars outside the temple as to how they are faring, paying for their tea occasionally. She loves the way her day begins and how she welcomes it. The silence and the bird songs both enthral her in equal measure. She is a true lover of life, one who celebrates every moment with warmth and smiles.
The ten minute wait at the nursing home soon turns to two hours. News trickles out from the Operation Theatre that two major arteries are blocked and stenting is in progress. This is a complete shock for everyone. The morning is not rosy any longer. Everyone waiting for her can sense the tension in the room. She would have hated this atmosphere, I remember thinking. She, who loved joy and lightness of spirit over anything remotely serious.
Two painful days in ICU and mother’s back in the room. All the curtains are pulled back so that she can see the trees and relish the rain drenching them. Her only question to the doctor is regarding her discharge. As the last canulla is removed from her horribly punctured arms, she is eager to wear her freshly laundered clothes and head out, she takes a step out and then turns to me, she gives me a tight hug and says, “Thank you for being there for me. I have to greet a brand new day with a brand new heart. Do you have a lipstick on you?”
After Steve McCurrys portrait shot of the ‘Afghan Girl’ , this is the second photograph, shot by Sudhir Ramachandran that has me smitten!
The expression on both, mother and child speak happy volumes of pure bliss 🙂
I have a sepia tinted photograph of myself as a little baby sitting on my mother`s lap. It is stuck on the inside wall of my cupboard, its edges curling with the burden of the many decades that it has witnessed. It is the first thing I see when I open my cupboard to select my outfit for the day. I peer into the baby’s face to observe if it has any resemblance to the woman that it has now become. Similarly, I look into my young mothers beautiful face to capture what she has carried forward from her youth. The emotion that fills my heart is quite powerful. It is a mix of nostalgia, gratitude and love. The photograph reasserts to me how many years my mother nourished my body and soul and made me the person I am. It is not something that should ever be forgotten. The presence of the photograph in my cupboard helps me reprioritises my goals in life. It shows me the relentless motion of time and what all it changes in its wake. It also teaches me patience…patience to hold my tongue when my mother slows her speech to choose the right word. Wisdom to tame my impatient hands as she works at her pace to finish a job…My mindbecomes clearer, as I mull over what to wear..
Alongside this photograph is one of my fathers, who, in passing away in his forties, remained frozen in all the vitality of youth, smiling his beautiful smile, he looks at me benevolently. I remember so many things about him because of that one photograph. His absence feels less stark, his face not a hazy memory but a clear picture. I remember his love for me and meticulous dressing, his penchant for always being on time, his love for a good joke and a hearty laugh…in his own silent way he still guides me..
The others who form this open album on the side of my cupboard are my immediate and extended family. In looking at their photos I remember to thank God for their presence in my life. I smile at the monkey face my son used to enjoy making and the certain angle my daughter always prefers when being clicked….the photograph of my brothers with their arms protectively around me shows me that the most precious thing in my cupboard is also the most intangible….