Saturday, 22 April 2017

Dear Aunty,

It's been a year since you left and not a day has gone by when I don't think of you. On some days it can be a fleeting thought, but on others it can leave me sobbing. I've spent a year trying to understand this connect to you, trying to understand whether I'm imagining the closeness we shared. I still have no answers, other than to know that when I miss you it leaves me gutted.

I missed you when your grandson broke his arm, when he went to grade big 1, when he read his first sentence and when today he played his first chess tournament. I know how much you loved him. You would have been proud and you would have laughed when I told you about how he calls himself a potty launcher (he totally loves potty conversations, just like you.) You would have annoyed me to death asking about what he eats now, what he's playing, what he's saying. You always had a million questions to ask about him whenever you called. I hate that you won't see him grow. I hate that he will not know you, or love you, or miss you like I do. I hate that he will miss out on having you in his life. He will never see you cooking with a whiskey soda in hand, a little tipsy and a little giggly.

He won't know the incredible will you had. I cannot imagine what your life must have been like. To love a man so passionately that you gave yourself up for him. And then to have to share him, to have to split that love for the rest of your life. I cannot imagine your loneliness and your heartbreak. I only saw what it did to you. We look for role models and inspirational people who have gone out and done big things in life. But I feel it's people like you, who fought every day to make life just a little bit worth living. You fought the people you loved most and you fought the demons raging inside your head. And on some days you won, and those days were worth it all. I wish you'd fought harder to still be here today. It was not yet your time to go.

I remember hating you when I got married. But I was young and foolish and I didn't understand you. I think I made up for it in the last few years. I wish we had more such years together. I miss you, so much. I miss the pride you would've felt in seeing me in a documentary, in seeing my name on screen, in seeing me turn my life around. I miss you when I hear people bitch about their mothers-in-law, because honestly, I had one of the coolest. You never asked me to be anyone else.

There are a thousand memories of you that swirl through my head and almost all of them are hilarious. Your laughter was infectious and your love was so pure. You were like a little child, no boundaries. It could piss the hell out of me at times, but it also made you the large-hearted person you were. I still remember the time you raged at me and I had to call your son back from office because it was the most bizarre thing I had ever witnessed. But I also remember how genuinely apologetic you were when the storm inside your head was over. I wish I could have helped you more, so that you could have been happier, more at peace.

I thought long and hard about how to mark today for your grandson and myself. You weren't religious and neither am I. I thought of all the things that meant the most to you, and I came up with biscuits from Frontier. You and I, we're both foodies, but the passion with which you loved those biscuits, I've never seen that, before or after. So that's what we did Aunty, we bought lots of biscuits and gave them to the kids on the street. I think you would've been happy if you knew that.

I miss you Aunty, every single day. There's still so much we had to do together. And you never gave me that recipe of baingan with dahi. And I still think of you every time I break a cucumber in half so that it's not bitter. Or when I open the wallet you gifted me by mistake.

I don't know how to reconcile myself with the fact that you're gone. I still keep thinking that if I get on the metro I'll find you at home or at the hospital where I last held your hand as you slipped away. Maybe, that's why, I haven't been able to go to your house for the last year.

Wednesday, 12 April 2017

As I turn 35...

Five years ago, on the eve of my birthday, on an international call I told my husband I wanted a divorce. The two years preceding that, I'd lived in my own personal hell, going back and forth, trying to decide whether it was time to pull the plug on my marriage. I was brought up to believe that marriage is forever and you don't give up on it. But I kept thinking, do I really want my forever to look like this? Yet the part of me that held back was screaming that I won't survive the split. And as I made my decision that night, I was convinced I wouldn't survive. That I hadn't just decided to end my marriage, I had decided to end my life. It was the last time I celebrated my birthday till this year, after half a decade.

As I brought in my birthday, surrounded by my closest friends I realized how wrong I was. I didn't just survive, I thrived. From the girl who didn't know how to write a cheque, I became the girl who now has fun with stocks. From the woman who felt all her dreams had turned to dust, I became the woman who pushed and fought to make my dreams come true, even if in a different way than I had imagined. And from a mother who felt resentful and tied down by her child, I became the mother who understood that her child makes her a better, happier person every day.

Was it easy? Hell no! The last five years have been the hardest of my life. I started out broke, unhealthy and unhappier than I had ever been. I spent a large chunk of the first few months getting drunk out of my wits and crying on the bathroom floor. I didn't know what the next day would bring. Would I ever earn enough to sustain my child and I? Did I have what it takes to be a mother, a good one? I was a broken human being. I just wanted to hide in a corner and ignore everything that came my way. And then, bit by bit hope started trickling in. People who were somewhat my friends came forward in unimaginable ways, offering unconditional support that I hadn't expected. I realized that if I wanted a healthy, happy child I was going to have to get my shit together and be the kickass role model he needed. And so I started to get my shit together. From shitty jobs, sleepless nights and complete cluelessness, I started heading towards something more meaningful in life.

The last five years have been hard and depressing and sometimes I've just wanted to quit. I've cried in the most unexpected places and moments. I have raged and screamed and asked why me a million times. But they have also been immensely rewarding and empowering. I have grown, as a woman, as a mother, as a friend. I have started discovering who I am, and I've started falling in love with who I am discovering. When people tell me that the good old college days were the best, I can't help but cringe and feel no. I loved that time, for the fun and the parties and the drunkenness. But this, this is the time I am loving the most. I am making my own decisions, decisions that take me closer to where and who I want to be. I am learning that life is rarely what you planned for, but the unplanned craziness that comes your way is just as good, if not better. And in these moments of finding myself, my voice, of being authentic, I am finding new ways of making my dreams come true.

So as I turn 35, I can't help but be full of love and gratitude for everyone who has come into my life. The support and love I have received from expected and totally unexpected quarters has been heartwarming. Never had I imagined that I would reach a place of such happiness in my life, professionally and personally. Thank you.