A mother to her grandmother…

‘When you grow up, take me to see the films,” I said to my first son and he promised that he would. But adolescence comes burdened with inhibitions and secret complexes. it soon occurred to me that he didn’t wish to be seen out with his mother although I was young and more cheerful and disposition than all his friends. At 19, he started to work, being as proud  as I was, and not wishing to be dependent on his father who was always a struggler with his accounts at the first of every month. I sold my stories to the Kerala Journals for 25 rupees in order to remain independent financially. It is possible that I have written in all over 500 stories, writing them at night at the kitchen table while my family slept soundly.

Grandmother, I have tried my best to succeed. Just as you had to make the hundred rupee note go a long way every month, I have had to make my meagre talent go a long way. Two of my sons are young men with beard on their chins. One is plotting an institute to train politicians and other has stopped talking to me. You will wonder why? I asked him to study for his examination. What I felt 26 years ago when you chastized me for kissing my cousin,  he feels towards me now when I remind him of his duties as a student. Life comes a full circle, doesn’t it Grandmother?

Like I wished then that you were dead, it is perhaps his turn to wish a woman dead in order to be free. It is perhaps my turn to get a paralytic stroke and lie in the dark corner wishing for death and early release. Or perhaps, a heart attack that will settle my nerves forever and not for a mere driblets of time like the Valium 5 that I take to chaste my loneliness away. The only  fault the pill has is its capacity to strengthen the memory when you don’t want it to be strengthened. For instance, when I do not want to turn sentimental like the old, I suddenly remember how my son cried for a green shirt when he was a chubby 5-year-old and how good he looked in it when it was bought.

 

– A Letter to my grandmother, Kamala Das

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