“What happened?”, I asked, having received an unexpected call.
“I called just like that”, she said, making me feel an instant twinge of guilt. But then I couldn’t be blamed for being startled.
“Where are you?”, I asked, hearing the unusual noises in the background.
“I am out in the park, taking a walk”.
“A walk? In the park? You?”, I asked incredulously.
“Yes”, she said almost sheepishly. “I even went for a walk in the morning.”
“That’s something!”, I added
“And I even had milk both times in the day”, she added in a school girlish voice. It was a rare first when I had heard her talk like this. My next impulse was to tell her that she could tell her mom – she would be so pleased to hear that!
Thankfully I curbed that impulse just in time before blurting it out impulsively. For I realised with a pinch yet again, that my nani, her mom, was not around anymore. She had passed away last year. In the absence of a maternal figure, the school girlish glee of my mom had got directed to her daughter. Me. It unsettled me a bit.
I had been maternal with her on other accounts when I had lightly chided her for not taking her health seriously, for not pampering herself, for not going to the parlour regularly like all others in her “age group”. But I had barely been faced with situations like this where school girlishly reported activities are meant to be applauded.
Some years back, one fine day, it had suddenly struck me that my mom had already been married and had had me at the age that I was then. Suddenly things fell into a very different perspective altogether. A life full of tribulations whizzed past, clear as if crystal. How it must have been to adjust into a family that was huge, joint and difficult, how it was to be married to an army man who would mostly be away on postings, and all this in days when the world wasn’t even a mesh of the densely connected dots that it is today. All this at the age I was then. Suddenly I felt as if under her skin. I could relate to her much more, understand her more clearly without having to communicate anything. But I guess that’s natural. For I am her reflection, my mother’s daughter.