“Memories are the best gift we can give our children. Sometimes, despite our efforts, certain memories fade away while the ones that we least expected stay. All we can do is to help the children to remember the good ones. After that, their minds take over.”
My mother passed away about 8 years back. My memories of her are clear as pure water. But, I can’t say the same for my son. He was barely 7 years old when she passed away. So, though he feels her warmth and remembers certain words of hers, his recollection is hazy. When he first told me this, plagued with guilt, I was angry.
“How can you not remember Nani?” I had asked him.
“She was the one who used to chop the papaya and feed it to you lovingly with a fork.”
“She was the one who used to massage you.”
“She was the one who used to chat for hours with you.”
“She was the one who used to play ‘ghugua ghoon’ with you.”
So I rattled on and on. I had every right to be furious. My mother, my son’s only grandmother who doted on him had become just a hazy memory for my son! What had happened to all the warmth and love that she enveloped him with? Had he forgotten it all? How could he?
It was then that I observed my teenage son’s confused, sad face filled with conflict and hurt.
“I do want to remember her Mamma. But, I just can’t seem to remember much. It is as if there is a curtain between those memories and me”, he said and turned away.
It was then that I realized that my son was only a little kid when my mother suddenly left us all. I remember the day we were rushing to Chennai by train from Palakkad because we were informed that my mother had suffered a heart attack. I was so caught up in my own emotions that I had not prepared my little son for a probable bad news, that his dearest Nani could be snatched away from him forever. My mother had been my friend, my treasure chest of unconditional love and I was going to lose her. I had become a little girl once again. My own emotions were eating me up; how could I provide solace to my little son? How could I tell him that the next time he visited her home, she would not be welcoming him at the door? How could I tell him that she would not be there to chat with him anymore? How could I tell him that the Nani lying in the icebox waiting for her last journey from earth was not going to get up again?
For weeks/months after my mother’s demise, my son would not go to sleep without her satin violet coloured housecoat and her spectacles. He would keep them next to his pillow, holding on to them until sleep whisked him away from the pain. How it made me cry then! My eyes are moist even as I write this!
As I recollected this, I realized that it is human temperament to temporarily blank out episodes that are painful to us. That is what my son did too. Unfortunately, with those traumatic episodes some happy, cheerful and mundane memories get either deleted or blanked out temporarily too. Is there a way to bring them back? I do not know. As far as my son is concerned, I keep sharing memories of his Nani whenever I can. Even that can be painful you know, when the brain refuses to acknowledge a certain reality while another person in the same family cherishes it.
The least I can do is not make him feel guilty about it all and wish that someday when he is sad or gloomy; his mind will automatically dive into the deep blue waters of his archives and come out with all those happy memories of his Nani which he had thought he had lost forever.
Shail Raghuvanshi is a freelance journalist, content writer, editor, book reviewer and poet. She has 15 years of writing experience in newspaper, magazine, radio and television. She has worked as a Spoken English Teacher too. She runs a blog for writers called Write Space and blogs at her personal blog Muse N’ Motivation. A daughter, wife, mother and friend, she believes that there is no situation that can’t be made better. Faith, Friendship and Family are what makes her life complete.