Whom do you love the most?

Posted on March 17, 2016

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Memories of mom – physical and emotional resurface every now and then. Precisely for this reason, I did not look at pictures of her, especially from the times she was sick. One of the major regrets I have is not taking more pictures with her when she was well. We barely have pictures of her laughing and smiling from the B.A. era – you know, the Before Alzheimer’s!

I came home to my childhood home in India yesterday. Rummaging through my dusty rusty, iron cupboard, I found a blue polythene bag that still holds a dwindling collection of pictures. Dwindling because my need for memories increases each passing year, and what the bag holds is no longer enough.

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February 5th, 1998

I found this old picture of mom. She was very ill during this time. In fact, this picture is taken the night before my sister’s wedding. Mom’s hair is unkempt and when I look at pictures from this time, it seems that she is wearing the same clothes! I am immediately and dutifully guilty. However, look at our smiles! They are beatific. And then I realize, in all the pictures where she is smiling, I can still see her soul radiate through the Alzheimer’s. The one thing that the disease had not stolen. At least till the very end.

It was during this time that we used to play a game – I would ask mom, “Whom do you love/cherish the most in this world?” It was said in Gujarati – “Tane duniya maa sauthi vahlu kaun?” She would say, “Sweety”. That was my nick name. It would make swell with love and pride. (I was a complete dick to my sister as I would tease her about mom’s answer. Hey, I was a teen – leave me be!)  I am certain now that she had no idea that I, the person posing the question, was in fact “Sweety”.

But still, she loved me the most and that’s what matters. What I know is, that my mom loved my sister with equal passion. Because when my sister sang, mom danced. I only hope my sister remembers that because she won’t believe me.

And soon, when I posed the same question, it wouldn’t elicit any answer. She was gone. Hidden in the tangles of her brain. Pun intended. But in my heart, she will truly be the person I love the most in this world.

 

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