Ammi Knows Best

Remember that text message from across the country?
‘I have something to tell you when I come home!’
When you shyly dragged her out to the garden seat as the sun started to drop, away from the noise of a crowded house.
You repeated that line,
‘I have something to tell you.’
And ammi, with a smile on her face began to giggle, poking you to say why, and in her jokes to draw it out of you, guessed what you were thinking before you even said it.
Eyes wide, relieved that you wouldn’t have to string the words together yourself, you wondered out loud,
‘How did you know?’
‘I’m your mum, it’s my job to know these things’
And then she held your hand as you told her the happy news, her smile widening at your happiness, her laugh louder whenever you writhed shyly, her hug warm and reassuring; this was all she wanted, for you to be happy.
‘I waited so long for this day. To hear these words from you, to see you smile like this.’

Remember that choked-up call on a tuk ride home?
She asked where you were and you insisted you were on the way – a 30-second conversation but she knew something wasn’t right.
You walked into the house, face and eyes downcast, tears long dry but their tracks still visible to those who looked close enough.
And she did, as she always does.
Ammi, in a voice of tenderness only a mother can truly perfect, lay down next to you as you curled like a fetus on her bed.
‘Tell me.’
And you did, but you didn’t have to; one word – a name – and she completed the sentence.
The tears began to flow, and as she held you, you could tell that they were flowing from her eyes too.
She was furious.
But you didn’t want her to be, because your heart was too numb to decide what to feel just yet.
‘How can I be anything but angry? You expect me to feel anything less for someone hurts my daughter?’
She waited with you in the dark silence, holding you close without a word for a long time.
‘I’ve been there, you know.’
Her story was from many years ago, before your father was in her life. As she spoke, some sentences trailing off and in the silence, finishing themselves, you realised that her tears and anger were completely made complete sense.
If you were this enraged at someone who had disappointed your mother many, many years ago, how upset must she be at someone who had, only now, left your heart in a million pieces?

Remember that rejected call on a rainy walk from the bus stop?
You were toeing the line between upset and angry so even the message that followed, a standard ammi-text telling you to get home before the rain started, went ignored.
There were quite a few slammed doors at home, raised voices, dinner was refused and you rushed upstairs to the isolation your room offered.
Ammi followed, obviously.
You were quarter-way through pouring your heart out into a blog post when she sat near you, her voice a lot lower this time.
‘What’s the matter now?’
The stern resolve you’d been holding broke when you spoke it out to her, the tears you’d admonished yourself for letting flow freely but a few hours ago had returned and she saw right through your flustered façade.
‘I knew it had to be something to do with that person.’
So you explained; the bread-crumb trail you had followed, the marker that set off alarm bells, and a guiding voice that confirmed your worst fear.
‘That’s no longer your problem, why waste your energy worrying about them?’
She proceeded to voice her thoughts in a way so cut and dry that it threw you off yet you knew, deep down, that this was her way of saying that she was glad you hadn’t gotten hurt even more than you already were.
And as most people do, you find yourself agreeing with ammi even though you really don’t want to accept the truth, for the simple reason that she is right.
She held you, close and warm like she had all these years and always would, the feel of her heartbeat easing your mind that had been on its last nerve.
‘Better things will come for you in time baba, have faith.’


For the mothers who helped their children to piece back together their broken hearts, the mothers who pulled their children from depths so dark they themselves didn’t see a way out, for the mothers who nourished their children’s souls back to life with spirit and hope in a way that they had once nourished their bodies with milk from their own – how do we even begin to return the favour?

Happy Mothers Day.

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