I still remember my first memories, not sure though if they are my imagination or the reality. I must have been five, living in a backwards district of Odisha. The place had only kachcha houses, the roofs were low and there was no door or windows. There was only one room that was the kitchen, bedroom and everything else.
In a hot sunny day, I was trying to climb a tree in front of our hut when I fell down. That was the first time I felt pain.
I was injured badly. It was you who took care of me and I learned my first lesson from you recovering from that pain - there is no pain which time cannot cure. The wounds may remain but the pain will go eventually. Your wounds will always remind you of the bad days and give you confidence. 'If I can live with one wound I can live with others.'
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I still remember the day when I came back after fighting with our neighbour’s children. I told you that they took the toy that I found on the street two days back. I could still hear your words very clearly, 'Losing a toy is fine, you may get another someday, but you lost your temper which is dangerous. You got hurt in the process. A fight never solves any problem - they create more. Did you have what you wanted? Avoid unnecessary suffering for pity things.'
How could I forget the day we separated? It was painful but I knew it’s temporary. I have to go to the next village to study and I could only come to meet you twice a month. The first time I came back to you, I felt the joy for the first time. I never wanted to go back. But the joy of seeing you made it worth.
'Ma, why do I need to go back? I want to be with you.'
'You need to study so you know the world better. There is life outside this place, I can't teach you everything, and you have to experience many things yourself.'
Sleeping on your lap I used to ask you are we always going to be like this and you would say, 'Just remember one thing - you don't have to be rich to be happy. You have to learn how to be happy. When you grow up, I want you to know the value of things, not the price.'
From the hut in Odisha to slums in Mumbai to this house in hills of Ooty where I write this down, we have come a long way. We have everything which we could not have dreamed of 40 years back.
Now I have everything but you.
For the first time, I don't agree with what you taught me - Pain is temporary. The pain I feel when I think about you and the fact I won't be able to see you again is unbearable. Since the day you left I have been missing you. A little too much, a little too often and little more every day.
I never believed in God, because I never had anything to do with Him nor did he with me. I always worshipped you instead of Him. People since ages have said, there is God up there looking after you. I guess they are right. I know somewhere in between those clouds as I think about you with tears in my eyes, your eyes are looking at me and asking me to stop crying.
I wanted to give you what you deserved. I still remember the days when we could not manage a day's food.
"We were not always liked this. I have seen the world change upside down in front of me. We will not be like this forever, things will change again. I want you to see the other side of the world.'
I know you would have been the happiest mother seeing me at this place, seeing the other side of the world. For all the years to come, I have to live with the guilt that I could not do all this on time, to show that our time has changed again.
I am everything now but nothing without you.