My Mother Is Growing On Me

My mother is ageing yet still growing on me,
like Amar Bel clinging to the tree of my being.
All this while encircling in many unidentifiable ways,
imprinted like fine lines of gold in her Banarasi sarees.
But now she wants to play the alert gardener, and pluck out
her stems from my branches as if they are unwanted weeds.
There is a recognition and realisation – I’m becoming like her.
For many years she has been told I’m mirroring her,
unknowingly; imitating her peculiar traits, unconsciously.
This game of imitation of mine costs her endless taunts of
oh aadi is just like his mother, and sleepless nights that
she is unable to explain to the psychologist when asked.

I ask my mother why she is so casually cruel to me.
Silence follows. Then, a story. We are still talking
about her wedding. It was typical hot Indian summer,
when she sat in her bridal attire, not pretending to look
beautiful. That’s what the photo album lies about.
A compensation. Two huge trunks, full of clothes,
jewellery, utensils, and other gifts. Wooden furniture,
black and white television, and other electronics.
Because she was not pretty, tall, a good cook, and educated.
Her favourite souvenir from home was and is
the plant of Gurhal. Blooming bloody in its full glory.
Oh, metaphorical lesson. Shush maa, I know you will
not be around forever to tell this story of
uprooting, longing, and belonging to your roots and home,
and I might forget it later.
I’m trusting this poem because poems remember.
Someone is supposed to make sense, maa, rescue the moral of the story,
nobody can save this it cannot be saved,
and after befriending and lessening the gravity of
your loneliness, after it vanishes, you mourn for it
slowly. A poem is always
turning in its grave to reveal itself.

It’s hard to conjure: her unsettling fears of her son,
turning into her isolated, alienated, and unlikeable self.
I want to know her, not like my mother which I have
accepted I never will, but as the woman who was never understood;
the daughter-in-law who was never accepted;
the wife who was never enough;
the unsocial neighbour who was never welcomed;
and her other unknown manifestations.
How do I tell her, to let me?

Aaditya Pandey is a student of Journalism in Delhi. He reads a lot about art, culture, and politics, and thus, consequently, attempts to write sometimes.

Featured image:  Tim Hüfner / Unsplash