I can talk now, tell the story of my parents. I can write of the guilt I feel now of having been so absorbed in my own world that I never knew what my mother went through at the death of her parents, at the passing away of her younger brother and on losing another brother to schizophrenia.
Looking back now, after nearly two decades, my mother then would have been as old as I am now. I pick my memory to reconstruct my mother’s life at that time. I wade through the deep sea of childhood memories to cast light on the relationships in her life that mattered so much to her, at the losses that pained and paralysed her.
Memories of my grandfather’s home concretize in my mind, the memories are that of a small and young girl. The memories of a twelve something girl is seen through the sensibility of the adult that I am now. This might be a step away from truth as my consciousness penetrates through a different time and this has made me in fact two different individuals – a child that saw and a woman that wants to immortalize her mother by fleshing her out in different relationships, in seeing her life crisscross several lives.
This exercise is also largely to exorcise the guilt I experience that I perceived my mother selfishly only in relation to me, in relation to my emotional wants and needs. The sun shone brightly on me, as a small and young girl, through the dappled leaves as I felt my mother’s care and love nourish me. But, the corner of my mind always registered her joys, her pains and her agonies. All this, I hope to establish by unearthing memories that I had not acknowledged before.
So my exercise now is to hold the flashlight away from me, at all the people who were close to my mother, at my memory of the events that did not necessarily have to do with me, at the warm corners in my grandfather’s home where my mother grew and whose images I am certain she carried vividly till the day of her death.