15 years ago today, my mum passed away. It's not normally a date I pay much attention to as I prefer to celebrate her birthday, her life and not her death. I even had to ask my little bro the exact date and got a shock it's just one day after the wedding anniversary. No one mentioned it at our wedding.
15 years. Wow. 15 years.
All month I've been composing this post in my head. Yet as I sit here to write, I wonder how many of you would want to hear of this seemingly ordinary lady. Ordinary to everyone but us, her family and to her friends. Weirdly, I lived with her for 28 years, but I cannot remember the day to day. It's the occasional memories that stick. And also, of course, every moment of this day 15 years ago. The hospital, the sounds, my brothers' reactions, the nurses in the ICU, the hug I got from dad (the first one I ever remember getting from him, the shock was too much to bear almost), seeing her laid out in the hospital mortuary and not wanting to leave her there. Then there was the overbearing 14 days of relatives coming to our house to mourn - a part of my religion/tradition that I have always detested. The shock of how easily and freely my tears flowed on the day of her cremation...like a tap.
I cannot cook without thinking of her. I cannot make rotlis without wishing I'd paid more attention to her excellent skills and oh my god, the sweets, pickles, and exotic chevdos and other mixes she made.
Without facebook, twitter, camera-phones and so on to record her every moment we are left to stare at the few old fashioned printed photos of her. She is young in them. I'm getting older in comparison. But in them, she is static unlike in real life. We have one small recording of her voice in the background at my brother's wedding...it's the most precious part of the whole video for me.
The memories I have are different to my brothers even when talking about the same events. That aspect has always fascinated me of memory recall.
She never met any of her grandchildren who were all born in the last 15 years. Two of them, including my tot are named in her honour. I sometimes see flashes of mum's face in tot. I often see them in the mirror especially when I am cross as she had a hell of a temper. I used to feel the brunt of that temper and developed a colossal one myself. For most of our life together, we didn't get on. Too alike I suppose. But there were days where we could sit in eachother's company and all would be right with the world. She had beautiful brown eyes, like pools of chocolate that I loved to stare into. She must have thought I was a bit potty but it would soothe me.
She would have loved the kids, spoilt them rotten and taught them all the mother tongue. With her passing, the ties to our language started to wither away to almost nothing now but a painful attempt to pass unfamiliar, uncomfortable guttural sounds when I need to speak to a relative.
Since having tot, I've thought more about how she coped remarkably and courageously with moving from one continent to another twice (India to Kenya, then to the UK). How she had 3 of us in quick succession and didn't break down (not sure I'd do the same). Many other things. We aren't in touch with her family or old Indian friends so a whole segment of her life is not known to me.
15 years. Cannot believe it. Mitch Albom got it right - One More Day is all I would need to say sorry, to say thanks, to question her relentlessly about everything and to hug her like there was no tomorrow. Every day for the 15 years, and for the rest of my life, I'll be doing those things in my head.