Reticent. That is what best describes me. Probably. My mum would have found the right word. Had she been around. Infact, had she not left, I would probably not be – reticent.
She was wonderful – my mother. I don’t remember her being pretty. Nor attractive. But when she came to collect me from school, my friends would spot her bulky frame, run towards her to greet her. They would tell her about what they did in the classroom that day. She would be all smiles. Crows-feet around her eyes. Yes, that’s what I remember most about her. When she smiled, her eyes would sparkle. And crows-feet would form around the corners. She would laugh heartily at what Gabbi or Maya said. Or at Ben screaming like a Dinosaur! If Sophia hung onto the fence, crying for her Mommy, my mum would promptly tell her ‘Don’t worry darling, I saw your Mommy on the way, she is going to be here very soon!’
And all the time, I would watch – hiding behind a play tent –her eyes would be looking for me. Searching… searching…And when they found me – they would light up, like she had witnessed fireworks in the sky!!
Anyway. The days we spent at the hospital. She would lie limp on the bed. I would chatter. Incessantly. She would smile. Mostly! Sometimes, she would simply ask me to ‘shush‘. I couldn’t. Well, that’s me. Excited, animated, energetic. I think – well, I know – that that spirit is what she loved most about me.
That last day, I went to wake her up. And when she did, I ..I .. cannot explain. Pale, ashen face. Hollow eyes. Dry, cracked lips. Almost, an ugly ghost in the place of my beautiful mother.
I shrank. ‘Go Away!!’ I screamed. I ran out of that room, screaming ‘Just go away!!’. That was the last I saw of her. They didn’t allow me at her funeral. They thought I was too young.
How do I remember – you might ask. You see, some things – events, faces – just get etched – deep, deep down – somewhere.. somewhere beyond even Memory! Just like a photograph. Flash, click. The moment captured – for eternity.
Sometimes, I pretend to go back to sleep and continue the dream – and try to imagine that I’ve found her.
Her face is beautiful again. I cannot bring myself to see her ‘other’ face. Even in a pretend dream – it is too difficult.
I simply stand and stare. She waits, with a smile that lights up her face.
And I? I have so much – just so much – to say to her. I have to tell her that Maya hurted my feelings. That Ben invited me to his birthday party. That.. that..I’m so clever that I know all about the continents.
But not a word comes up to my lips. My dry, cracked lips. And suddenly, my mind goes blank. There is only one thing that I want to say. Only one.
But my throat hurts so bad, that I’m unable to bring myself to say it … ‘Mummy, I’m sorry I got afraid’.
You see, I am reticent. I really am. Because none of it matters any more.