Memories are like guests, they can come and accost you anywhere, anytime, and you have to give them attention. Sometimes they can be nice memories and sometimes they can be painful ones.
Lately, I am often reminded of a very normal day (those are the ones you miss the most when they are gone), when my mother and father were going to attend a wedding. It was a good year, as is any year before someone goes away. She had worn her favourite sari, a purple-coloured one, and was happily posing for photos.
She loved smiling, my mother. And I, as a daughter, knew the pain behind the smile. As a family, we have a huge share of dental complaints, but mom had the worst of it. She had botched-up dental surgeries, and had struggled for a long time to just smile. Her original teeth were lovely, the implants never lived up to the promise of giving her an “original” and “authentic” smile. But in a world where teeth mean a lot, it was still a much-needed crutch.
So, on she went that day, happy, oblivious to the months and years ahead and the pain they would bring. As we all do.
She braved 58 winters but did not survive till spring which would have marked her 59th birthday.
During the final illness, the medicines gave her mouth terrible ulcers and she could no longer bear to wear the implants. A further, terrible indignation for a person who had already lost her power to walk or even lift her finger. It’s not easy coming in this world or leaving it, for sure. You give up everything, including the tiniest vanities and desires.
As for me, all I dream of nowadays is that smile of hers, for some reason. I wish I could have stored it in a jar, preserved it forever… like a talisman, a light to warm the heart in times of sorrow and darkness.