That Fateful Day
June 14th, 2004
I woke up early that morning, it seemed like a big day. My mother along with my uncles and aunties was going to Bombay, to shop for the very first wedding of my generation, my cousin Mintu Bhaiyya’s. I hysterically woke my elder brother, Anish Bhaiyya, 19, up, saying, “mummy is leaving today, won’t you see her off?”
I don’t remember if he did wake up or not, but what I do remember is that mummy, clad in a new saree shaded orange, red and yellow, looked charming as ever. I kept complimenting her, and each time, she responded with a wide smile “thank you, beta(dear),” she said.
There was something about that moment, I had no idea what it was, but I had never felt it before.
I stood outside our gate as she walked to my cousin’s place, about a hundred meters away, from where they would start for Bombay. I waited until she disappeared out of my sight.
June 18th, 2004
She called me, or I did (don’t remember who did, it’s almost been twelve years now, but we spoke.) “I ate three dosas for breakfast today,” I told her with pride as I would never eat more than two and she was tired of mending my poor eating habits. I just wanted to let her know that I was taking care of myself well while she was away. After appreciating me, she said, “I’ve ordered a most gorgeous lehenga for you for the wedding.” It excited me, I imagined what color it was, what embellishments it had and how pretty it would make me look. I couldn’t wait for her to be back, just because I wanted all the details. “I’m coming to my baby soon,” she said before hanging up.
June 20th, 2004
The landline rang at 4am, my brother answered, and we all woke up in panic. He said, “their car has met with an accident,” and left to Mintu Bhaiyya’s place, whose parents were also in the car. The accident happened about 400 miles away. What could my sister and I do about it? She assured me that everything would be fine and cuddled me to sleep.
I woke up and went to school. And after I finished, I was told to my autorikshaw (transport) driver uncle to be dropped at a cousin’s place we seldom visited. I wondered why. I spent that night with my little nieces and nephews, smelling that something was fishy, nervous as hell but helpless.
The next morning, amidst all the anxiety, I was told, “mummy is no more.” It’s the most tragic thingI’ve ever heard.
I was taken home, and home didn’t look the same as before. It was flooded with people, at least 500 of them at 7 am. As I walked inside, all eyes were on me. They got her body. And in a few hours, took it away. Away, forever.
My grandparents lost their only daughter, and we, our mother. Death is the saddest thing that can happen to anyone. And losing a parent or a child is the worst anyone can experience. A life without her was impossible to imagine.
For years, I thought she would come back. I dreamt she would. Senseless Hindi TV shows around that time had this new fad of bringing dead people alive. So I visualised that. That my mother survived that car accident, went missing and then reunited with us. I waited for that day to come true.
Twelve Years Later
I don’t wait like that anymore, but I wish, I wish it never happened.
They say, time heals, but I don’t think this will ever heal. I wailed that day, I wail today. Not as often as I did around that time, but when I do, the wounds feel fresh as ever.
In between the days I was writing this, I dreamt that mummy was alive and dies again and I have had multiple other outbreaks. Each time, I have wiped my own tears and continued writing. That’s how I deal with this, even today. Cry. Wipe Tears. Continue to live.
And oh, I found a quote that’s kinda changed life for me:
“On the darkest days when you feel inadequate, unloved and unworthy, remember whose daughter you are and straighten your crown.”
Thanks for being my crown, mummy! ❤