Happy Birthday. You turn into a big girl today. Post this day, you will start a new chapter of life. It will be filled with adventures, and experiences – happy and grim alike. As you set into this world, and try to make a place for yourself, I am sure you will face many challenges. I come to this conclusion not because I doubt your capacity, also not because the world is unfair, but because challenges are a big part of the world I have set you free in.
I am only sad that I cannot be with you to face them, that I cannot offer you my warm care when you come back home having fallen – failed and desolate. But as I look over you today, I am equal parts proud of the young lady you have become – independent enough to make the right decisions. There is just one last lesson I wish to share with you, love, and listen carefully, because this is the last letter I left your parents.
I was at our summer-house in Musoorie with your grandmother that summer. I had had my convocation the day before that – that was the very night I conceived you. I was anxious and scared; after all, I was just a young girl of your age. I had taken the first bus home and had come without a suitcase or a penny on me.
As I reached home, I found mother watering the roses in the tea garden in the backyard; I looked at her with a crumpled face – she immediately knew something was wrong.
Our house was on a high hill, where the smell of snow and chilly clouds reign the air like the eternal scent of ginger. I sat on the fluffed couch, and allowed myself to sink in its leathery callouses – wishing I could escape into a third space where I am shred of all my problems. I looked outside the glass wall; the yellow sky stared back at me. The dim sun – present but not too overpowering – seemed to be conscious of my inner turmoil too.
Mother came in, jingling the spoons in two glasses filled with lime soda and spice, just like she did every time. Her demeanour made me uncomfortable. She had asked no questions about my abrupt, sudden visit. She had not enquired about what worried me. She seemed to be taking her time, perhaps waiting for me to tell her.
“I am pregnant.” I blurted out after my last sip of the soda-drink. There I was – a young coward of twenty-two.
I opened my mouth to speak again. My mother hushed me with a gesture of her hand. She looked at me, her eyes misty grey behind her neat glasses. “Are you angry? I am…” I murmured. She smiled and stopped me again.
“It’s okay to let yourself think.” She said.
That is all she said.
I spent a month in the hills that June, sitting in the garden or on the hammock, doing nothing but thinking. My eyes would wander to the sky, and aimlessly follow the treacherously shifting clouds. My head swelled as a billion emotions simultaneously resonated within me; yet, eventually, I would get so pensive that I would lose track and end up thinking about nothing at all. Still but preoccupied.
Soon, I realised what I wanted. Though those moments were perhaps the toughest ones of my life, in the end, I was certain my decision was right. I had become an independently-thinking, brave woman and only because I let myself sink into my thoughts. Only because I stopped the incessant human effort to separate the self from the self. Only because, I gave myself the time to foster the courage to do things which were apparently right from the very beginning.
I am sorry, Annie, that I wouldn’t be there waiting for you by the roses when you come home fallen. I am sorry I won’t be able to console you when you are heartbroken. I am sorry I won’t be able to offer you the remedies an ideal mother does. I am sorry I won’t be there for your life’s best moments or to correct you when you make mistakes. More than anything else, I am sorry for not writing many more letters, not teaching you everything I have come to know and recognise.
But that is not what I write my last letter for. I write to you, to remind you that it is important to think about things. Often when you come across a hard situation in life, people might tell you – “Forget it”. They might ask you to move on, sail with the current. They might probe you to do the first thing your heart says. Don’t you ever do that.
When you feel afraid or unsure, give yourself the time you deserve. Have the dignity and the courage to look at the sky in the most pressing of times and ponder, and dream and question. And in the end, always stand up for that one unbroken voice that echoes inside of you, because only that voice is truly yours and because I promise, love, that that voice is right.