Memories are like a handful of sand. You want to hold on to them but they slither away, fading gently but surely. In panic, we turn to props to refresh them. An old faded picture, a yellowing letter written in hand, an email, a video and sometimes even a possession or a smell.
When I look back at my childhood, I often wonder why I hardly have any photographs of us. I have no baby pictures of me or not too many of my siblings either. No pics of the handsome couple that mom and dad made or pics of them with their parents. Just a stray few here and there. Too few actually.
Were my parents the only people who never took pictures? There were no digital cameras back then but still. What added to the problem was that dad was in a transferable job and initially we moved from one place to another every 2-3 years. You can imagine how much stuff got thrown out in the moves. That must have compounded the problem. With no digital backups, some memories are lost forever.
As a result, I hardly have any pictures to show my kids. There are times when I want to see my mother’s pictures, to see her smile, her saris, how she looked, her joy when she was around us. Did we have any pictures of her cooking? It makes me sad that I just have a few blurry images in my head and nothing more.
Not even any letters from her. She never wrote to me. We were always phone people. Pick up the phone and call. My mum and granddad used to exchange some handwritten letters, I remember. Nana’s writing was a bit awkward in Hindi. As kids we used to laugh about it. He was way more fluent in English and Persian, I’ve heard. After my grandma (nani) passed away, I think he wrote to mum more. You know how dads try harder after the anchor in their lives, their kids’ lives leaves. They try but they really can’t plug the gap. Come to think of it I don’t remember my mum’s handwriting. I never got to see any of the letters she wrote to nana. Now all of them are gone. It’s like I’ve lost them in my memories. Like I have nothing to hold on to. It’s a truly sad thought.
So strange how material possessions keep your stronghold on emotional connections intact. How a loss of them makes you feel as if you have lost the person in them… again.
In a couple of days will be ma’s birthday. Had she lived, she would have been 69 this year. I look at her framed picture in my home and see that smile one more time. I close my eyes and try to remember her familiar hug, her perfume and her gentle voice. Her bright smile, beautiful flowing hair and the delight on her face when she saw me. I try to feel her touch when I wrap myself in her old saris.
Mothers, I tell you. They continue to nurture you from beyond their graves.