A month back, I got involved with the Cherished Blogfest once again. I was very honest in my last Cherished post, one year ago, and I’m going to lay myself bare and take the #nofilters approach this time as well.
Dan has done most of the hosting work this time round—I’ve merely coasted along. I’m struggling with a crucial deadline, so my visiting will all happen sporadically—but I WILL visit the entire list some time in the next two weeks. I’ll comment on as many posts as I can over the weekend.
My cherished object this year is a daisy embroidered on a piece of cloth, and this is its story.
She stayed with my husband and me for two months, and during those months I realized how a more than forty-year-old marriage can meld you with another person: she had no one to feed, take care of, or scold, she said. Yes, she had children, but it wasn’t the same. They didn’t need her as much as her husband did. Theirs was a love marriage in a time in India when such a thing was almost unheard-of — marriages were arranged by parents. Theirs was fixed by their parents, too, but they chose each other first!
I asked her about her most favourite pastime before she got married, and pat came the reply: embroidery. She’d won competitions, covered all the surfaces of her parents’ home with her crochet work, been the envy of all her neighbors. I took her to an embroidery shop, and watched her transform. I’d always admired her childlike wonder, and enthusiasm for life — but for the first time, I saw passion.
She embroidered a series of handkerchiefs for her son, with his initials. Then she made me this daisy. I asked her to sign it, but instead of writing her name, she wrote mine, and “Love, Ma.” We moved homes, and the daisy disappeared. What can I say. I’m careless and stupid.
In 2013, I was the first to reach her after a snakebite. I slapped her all the way to the hospital to keep her conscious, but could not bring her back. One evening she was all girlish laughter. Two days later, just a body they burnt at the pyre.
It is traditional for Indian daughters-in-law to inherit a piece of jewelry from their mothers in law– something that’s been in the family for at least a generation. She never had the opportunity to give me a token, and I thought I’d lost the one she had given me. That daisy.
This year at a time I was down in the dumps with my book and my writing, I found that daisy in one of the boxes, folded inside a plastic cover. In it, her passion, her ability to make new beginnings, her steadfast refusal to give in to loss and adversity.
I tend not to cherish objects, but this daisy holds that first moment we met, when she held my chin and said, so pretty. That time she massaged my head when my insufferable wedding hairstyle and the pins gave me a migraine. All those hours we chatted over recipes on international calls. When she jumped with me on a Malaysian beach, her saree at her knee. The way our home smelled when she cooked, all fennel and cinnamon and cumin and fenugreek. How she scolded me when I was foolish. Her patience. When she said I should wear what I felt comfortable in, her neighbors be damned. The way she danced, yes danced, hands up in the air, when I visited her in the middle of a family crisis– one of her daughters very, very ill at the time. When she let me get her hair colored. When I got to tie it in a knot using one of my clips. That first time I coerced her, a woman used to wearing sarees all her life, into a sleeping gown: her cheeky grin from behind the door, and then her twirl, her helpless giggles.
So much of her laughter, so many of her tears.
I don’t know where people go when they leave us, none of us do. But I sense my Ma with me in that daisy, and in these lines I write to tell you its story.
Are you taking part in the Cherished Blogfest? If you are, this weekend (29-31 July) please post about your cherished object, and visit others on this POST LINKY LIST (This is only for the posts, not signing up) Share on all social media with the hashtag #CBF16. If you haven’t signed up yet, you still can, the Cherished Blogfest MAIN LINKY LIST remains open. What is an object you cherish? What sort of memories does it bring back? Would you like to write about this object?
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