“How awful it was, thought Tessa, remembering Fats the toddler, the way tiny ghosts of your living children haunted your heart; they could never know, and would hate it if they did, how their growing was a constant bereavement.”
― J.K. Rowling, The Casual Vacancy
|Vintage Noor circa 1987|
Children are ubiquitously such selfish creatures, even after they become parents themselves. I have never paused before this particular instance to think how much my parents probably miss me -- and not so much me, but that little girl in the photos with those chubby cheeks and thick curls. They probably feel as though no time has passed and their girl has grown and taken flight. Do they find it to be an unfair decision? What does my mother think and does not say to me when I receive her frustrated chat on WhatsApp, "Really, Noorulain, what is happening? You never call." And what must she feel when I respond, "Sorry, Mom. Been really busy. Call you tomorrow. Kisses." "OK," she writes back. Then she sends me 3 pink hearts, and a bald smiley face blowing me a kiss. She is a funny lady. I love her dearly, and yet I haven't called her -- does she wonder if I have forgotten her or deprioritized her? Because how can I explain this -- Mom, life got in the way, I am a working mother, you know, and there's the time difference to contend with, you are 12 hours ahead after all, we don't live in the same day of the week half of the time, when the sun turns up outside my window, it's already dipped out of your sight, the skies above us are so different, you are so far away from me, I miss you, I love you, I think of you, I just haven't had the time to call...
It's hard to think about these things. It's heartbreaking to realize with absolute certainty that one day, I will look back and wonder where my sweet girl went and why my grown daughter doesn't call me back. I have never appreciated this constant bereavement my parents must experience. It's a sweet kind of mourning, though, isn't it? Hopefully, they think they have raised strong, independent, responsible women -- who have all three left the nest now, made their own abodes with twigs and moss and the values their parents taught them.
And yet, I cannot shake this burden off my shoulders. I look back at Jahan's photos -- a few days old, swaddled in a blanket; a few months old wearing a white woolen dress, a red headband, a ready smile, her chubby cheeks rosy; her tiny teeth, her short hair, her inquisitive look at 12 months, 18 months, 2 years... How time flies, and how strange nature is. Parents are blind observers to their child's growth, each phase so different from the last, the present always solidifying in our memory and the past fluid and free, sometimes flowing into the river of consciousness, making a tiny ripple, and then merging with our current reality, fading away. This parting is such sweet sorrow.
I miss my mother now (as I always do). Must sign off to call her.