I lost my mum in 2011 – there’s no doubt I miss her and think of her every single day. As a working mother, she used to leave little me with a soft mound of cloth, as she left for work each day, called ‘Amma Batte’ (literally, mother’s cloth) : A special piece of cloth she hoped would make me feel safe/secure and miss her less. But, she had no idea obviously even back then about how irreplaceable she was and is.
She got me. She always knew exactly how I was feeling and she knew exactly what to say. Now that she’s gone, I keep fantasizing about one of those letters I wish she’d written to me before going : ‘Now that I’m dead, here’s my letter of advice to you Pappu’.
So, anyway I thought I’d write one myself cos I kinda know what she’d say. I love letters and this is also a result of recently watching ‘The Light Between Oceans’ where the two main characters exchange letters heard via voice over.
There are still more days to travel in this life. And he knows that the man who makes the journey has been shaped by every day and every person along the way. Scars are just another kind of memory.
M. L. Stedman – The Light Between Oceans
Hello, it’s Mummy. I’m dead. Sorry about that.
I hope the funeral was good – did all my old friends come? I hope everyone was treated to all my favorite food including Majjige Huli (spiced buttermilk), as I stipulated since 1990, and every time I had a self-pitying bout of headache or wheezing.
Do the things you like, travel out, even shopping. I never got to do these things when I was young, when I really wanted to – I want you to. You know what I always say – ‘Halliddavarige kadle illa, kadle iddavarige hallilla’. (Literal meaning used to indicate the paradox of life – “One who has teeth does not have peanuts to eat, while the one who has peanuts does not have teeth”.) So, eat all the peanuts you can, while you still have teeth. One life to live! Enjoy life, fall in love, see the world, eat well, sleep well, smile a lot. You always looked beautiful smiling. You have always looked beautiful.
The main thing is just to guard your innocence. You are so full of wonder and trusting, your first instinct is to love – so child-like Pappu – and so I want you to hang on to that and never let it go.
And your charm – Keep turning that knob up, like a dimmer switch, whenever you can. Shine, constantly and steadily in everything you do, like a warm lamp in the corner. Be the best version of your creative self.
The world can be a silly place sometimes, people will cause you unnecessary anxiety by imposing things like ‘being cool’, ‘being more successful than everyone else’, ‘being very thin’, ‘getting more likes on a photo’. Don’t get caught up in these things – it’s a waste of time.
Second, don’t get too disappointed or too sad, nothing and nobody is worth it. Make yourself a cup of tea and exercise, like you always do. It’s the best path towards positivity.
Three – always be kind to animals. They are voiceless, they are guileless, they love unconditionally. Now that I’m gone and don’t have to pick up the poop, you can fill the house with dogs.
Four: choose your friends with care because you become them. Don’t fall in love/ make friends with someone who you think needs changing or who makes you feel like you are not enough.
There are people who will whisper things in your ear and slowly drain the joy out of your heart. Those books about vampires are true, Pappu. Drive a stake through their hearts and run away.
Take care of your body. While it’s healthy, never take it for granted. Exercise, walk, run, cycle as much as you can, while you can.
This leads me to the next lesson: life is about amazing times and awful experiences that will make for great anecdotes in the future.
Remember the time I told you about when you were a year old and your dad and I were in debt and had decided to end our lives by taking some pills? Well, we threw those pills away after one look at you and how stupid that would’ve been anyway. I would’ve missed out on this amazing life!
However awful, you can get through any experience if you will yourself. So, don’t give up too easily cos it’s the easiest thing to do.
Pappu, see as many sunrises and sunsets in as many places as you can. Run across roads to smell flowers. Always believe in yourself.
Think of yourself as a giant bird – use art as your fuel, use books as a route-map to fly where you want.
Host extravagantly, love constantly, talk to Daddy and Appu about me every day.