I have never been too attached or addicted to anything that I would feel actual physical craving for it if it is not in my life. Not even for caffeine. I have been drinking tea & coffee since I was a teenager and I love a cup or two every day, but I have lived without either for months without losing my sanity. I have lived without internet for three months in a remote Sri Lankan corner and survived to tell the tale. I have given up meat for over a year and had no trouble doing that too. I have spent one year in practically 3 pairs of jeans and one pair of boots. In short, I can live without pretty much anything if I put my mind to it. Giving up things, places, even people has never been much of a problem for me. I may miss them, I definitely reminisce about them, but I survive and get by.
The only thing that I have ever felt actual physical longing for is my mother. I lost ammi when I was a teenager and even though it has been quite a while, I still miss her presence in my life.
Some days, out of nowhere, I get this craving to talk to my mother that just wouldn’t go away. I have sisters and a bunch of most wonderful friends with whom I can talk about anything under the sun – in addition, I get along very well with my nieces. I even have access to free shrinks where I live but some days, you just know no one else but your mother would do. You don’t even need a massive trigger for that longing to jump at you out of nothing and engulf you. It has happened to me at the oddest places and times. Once I was driving down in my car and my iPod shuffled to Munni Begum and it reminded me of the time when my father had a thing for Munni Begum and ammi would just indulgently laugh at him perking up when Munni Begum was on TV. Despite being a total daddy’s girl I took ammi’s status as the sole recipient of his romantic affections very seriously. Any time Abba would express that he liked Munni Begum or the fact that one of my aunts cooked excellent Haleem, I would jump at him and make sure that he would admit that ammi’s Haleem was the best – esp better than the aforementioned aunt’s – and that Munni Begum has nothing on my mom.
Considering I lost ammi when I was still a teenager, I have not really talked to her about a lot of things. I always wonder what kind of relationship I would have had with her as an adult – woman to woman – had she lived to see me become the person I am today. Would I become the person I am if she had been around or I would I have turned out to be a fundamentally different person? Would she have approved of my life choices or not? I would really have liked to become her friend because my mother was a genuinely cool no nonsense person and I like to think we would have hit it off with as adults. I think I would have liked to pamper her a bit because she was the one who took care of everyone around her when she was alive.
Ever since I moved to Toronto, I have started attending a lot of literary events. 70% of the attendees of such events are retired women – aged between 60 to 75 – and sometimes, we get talking. Whenever I talk to them about anything, I always wonder if Ammi would have liked to attend such events and it would have been so cool if Ammi could have been here with me and we would be this cool mother/daughter duo doing things together.
Some days I read a book and just want to talk to her about it. Some days I feel on top of the world and want to share that joy with her, some days I hate everything and just want that unconditional support that one can only get from a mother. There are days when I want to bitch about people in my life and sometimes I just want to complain about my hair or gel based nail polish and I only want to do that with ammi but she obviously is not around and I have not mastered the art of talking with the people on the other side.
It is Ammi’s birthday today and I want to wish her happy birthday. I obviously cannot and that’s okay. This is life, sometimes your parents die earlier than others. Chin up and move on, but do take my word when I say that you must enjoy the time you have. If you are still a kid and live with your parents, just go over to your mom’s room and give her a hug. If your mom lives in the same city, just drive over – get a take away that she likes – and share it with her. If you live far from your mom, give her a call and let her know how important she is. Just do it, NOW because sooner or later, she is not gonna be around and then you will miss her and that would be an absolutely wretched feeling.
Enjoy her company while you can, have fun with her, gossip about the relatives and neighbours and mutual friends, buy her a spa day ticket, take a vacation together or just watch TV with her – you are lucky to have this privilege for as long as you have, savour it, enjoy it and tell her she is special.
PS: Special shout out to my Ammi, Happy birthday mom.