Ma


I refrained from posting this on Mother’s Day out of respect for all my friends who are mothers and for all my friends who still have mothers.

But Mother’s Day is tough. Very tough.

Nine years ago, my mother died.

May 19, 2001.

A few months before 9/11. It became a year that everyone remembers for the terrorist attacks. I remember it as the year my father died, and, exactly two months later, my mother.

Every year on this day, a melancholy descends on me.

I don’t feel like doing much of anything save look at her photographs and her handwriting — I still have all the letters she wrote me from Kolkata. I even have her clothes, fresh from her closet in our flat. Even after all these years, they smell like her, though the scents are fading and I desperately don’t want them to. I put a few of her things in a plastic bag to prevent her from escaping.

I miss her smile. I miss her hand on my forehead. I miss her kiss and her embrace.

I miss everything about her.

She had a massive stroke in 1982. She was only 51 then. But she lived another 19 years, bound to a wheelchair, half her brain cells gone. Toward the end of her life, we exchanged roles. I became a mother, taking care of her, making all the important decisions in her life. She was almost like my child, completely dependent on me.

And yet, every time I gazed into her eyes, I thought of the immense sacrifices she made — as a young Bengali woman who came to these shores not speaking English, not knowing how to operate an electric stove or drive a car. She endured the death of her own parents from afar, endured her loneliness. Never shared her pain with us; only her joy.

Only later, only after she died and it was too late to talk, did I discover her journals and writings. Only then did I realize how incredibly steely my mother was.

Only now do I appreciate her fully. Now that she is gone. Forever.

And a deep void fills my life. Today on the anniversary of her death. And every day that I live.

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7 thoughts on “Ma

  1. thank moni. i can so relate.. i really miss my mom on mother's day. while my mother's death anniversary is later in the year- i always miss celebrating her. I think of how she came to a new country and started a new life, how she made sacrifices for our family during tough times, how she fought to give me opportunities even when money was tight. I wish i had journals to get more insight into my mom. I am sending you love and hugs – in honor of our bangla moms.

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  2. I can only imagine your loss as both my parents are struggling with their health at 82, but I dread the day that phone call comes from Indiana. I call and talk to my mom and dad probably twice or more times a week…my dad is a good friend now…not always the case…and my mom…she is my Best Friend…she knows all…every detail of my life…some not so pretty facets. Your mother is such a beautiful lady in her picture and I can see she lives on in you darling. I know any parent would be so proud to have you for their daughter…the kind of quality work you are doing for humanity…you make a difference…your parents memory lives on. They enjoy watching you. You make them very happy and put smiles on their faces…don't be sad…they are with you Moni!

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  3. Moni, I understand more than you know. The anniversaries of my mom's birth and her death are a day apart. She left me Jan. 16, 1998.I loved how you remembered your mother. I would love to hear more about her journals. I'm sure you've heard this before but I can see you in your mother and your mother in you. The resemblance is amazing. I think of my mom every day and her gifts to me. Most of them are good; a sense of humor and no butt or hips. And I feel her with me all the time, especially when I'm up very early in the morning and same bird comes to my house to sing. Let's plan some time and we can share mom stories. Rhonda

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