Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Slice of Life #13 — Unpacking Mother’s Suitcase

suit case motherMy mother was a very meticulous woman and raised us as such. She was particular about how a bed should be made. In those days, we had mats that we had to roll them to perfection. Folding of clothes was another of her demands. Folded to perfection, putting many a launderer out of work. It was more of her need to have us believe mundane work needed more attention than we paid attention to. Her credo was – ‘A place for everything and everything in its place.’ My dad happily borrowed it and made it his. She did not claim any patent rights to it. A liberal she was, yes.

We all grow old and as did she. One day, we persuaded her to come and stay with us for good. She loved a patch of green at our place. Insisted on tulasi or basil, flowering plants and banana saplings. She used to go to the small garden and plucked every single flower for her ‘Gods’. I even chided her once that she must leave some on the plants for us to enjoy them. She was adamant. Slowly she stopped going to the garden as she was unable to climb the few steps without assistance.

As for her room, the things in her life were all over the room. They were in full cry to anyone walking past. A bit of an eyesore. I had to close the door of her room when we had visitors. One day she asked for the ‘blue’ trolley bag that I used. All the items she needed were on several side tables and when I asked about it, she said that they needed to be visible and within easy reach. She said that the chest of drawers was useless as she did not know what was in them. Come Diwali, I decided to clean her room and put things in place, tucked away neatly and told her about it.

She said nothing. I did see a fleeting shadow of sadness in her eyes. She veered away not wanting to meet my eyes. She was far too much in love with us. As for the suitcase, I got her sarees in them into the cabinet took away the trolley bag she did not need anymore. The room looked spick and span. There was an overhang of a heaviness of heart that I did not notice. Amma passed away a month later.

A couple of months later, I used the blue trolley bag and found that its zip had given up. She did not want me to use it and hence asked for it. And did not want to tell me. These days, the room looks clean, and each time I go in, I feel it was better off with the odds strewn around within easy reach of the only person who loved me unconditionally – my mother. I realized that old people needed an understanding beyond cleanliness. A sensitivity beyond compare. The blue trolley bag was unpacked and tucked away, the emotions were not. They are alive and each time I look at the trolley, it reminds me of her and my spectacles mists up again.