Monday, June 24, 2024


Dhaka Tribune

Ides of Choitro

Update : 28 Apr 2022, 02:04 PM

“My mother became very pretty,” everyone keeps telling me. Her armour of a skin glowed, her rainfall of a hair glistened. And she slept at night.

My mother who never erupted, not until I was born.

My father liked things neat. He was a believer in cataloguing memory in organized files. So the moment I slipped into this earth, and my mother screamed in agony, my father was ready with a pen and a diary. He wasn’t at the delivery room, that’s not the norm in here, that’s a woman’s place. He sang the Azan, it was dawn, later that morning sipping cha he wrote down the details. At least the details he knew and thought to be necessary. 

My mother meanwhile repeatedly asked my grandma and the midwife Nurjahan Begum, “Is it really a daughter?” and, “I never wanted one. I don’t want my life to prolong.”

So clearly she had the secret wish, and the trust that she would only bore sons, and her life would end with hers.

Later I found out she doesn’t sleep very much. And she erupts. Only with me though. That is our secret to be shared and not the only one.

I can never tell my story without telling hers, and I too hope that her life would end with hers, and not spill over and stain mine, like it is supposed to in here.

She struggled, to be perfect. A perfect homemaker, and all that it entails. When she visited the homes of our neighbours, and when the aunties came into our home, Ma would always mourn over things after and become restless. About how our bed sheets weren’t straight enough, my father’s panjabis not white enough, food not tasty enough, kitchen not clean enough, kids not trained enough! 

She-the-mother, always exhausted.

After she had the pact with life about not wanting a second one, she pulled the thread back and renegotiated when my father died. Suddenly the blueprint laid out for the daughters of this world didn’t seem so blue.
So what if her life continued
a little bit?

But the problem was, by that time, she had already revealed too much, and I was not prone to bend.

My father the memory keeper didn’t know those details. Like the delivery room, those memories were a woman’s place to inhabit.

It was 4 A.M.

The 14th of Choitro.

The 28th of March.

The 12th of Ramadan.

The unbearable heat of the day was caressed by the predawn air. 4 A.M. and my mother stopped howling. And I was supposed to take the baton in that relay race and cry, but didn’t.

I talked very late. She thought I probably couldn’t. But I did, one afternoon I said, “Ma!”

I know involuntarily I carry the curse. I know I’ve already lived some of her memories. Time went by, and she forgot her pact, all she wants now is that I follow the path. But how can I forget, that was the first thing I heard. Even before my Father’s Azan, I heard her say, her life should end with hers. 

I get exhausted, but this is of a different kind. Or maybe not, maybe it’s just pure delusion that I think that, maybe it is the exact same exhaustion that my mother has. 

By my age, she had me for a daughter for four years. And she had no friends. Just some self-obsessed children to care for. She had a delusional daughter who lied all the time and made up stories.

Usually, the sky on this day blows up with the full moon.

The heat of the day makes the moon stronger, the light not pale like usual, but piercing.

And this overcompensation to be liked, this endless search for my people, exhausts me. It exhausts me trying not to be my mother.

In my father’s details though, he forgot the moon that night.

Between pact-maker-the mother and memory-keeper-the father, I wander around. Lost, and yet sure of what I want.

Angry, yet content.

Melancholic and Euphoric.



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