Those eyes used to gaze at me with love, but now look at me without a hint of recognition.
Those hands held me before I learnt to walk, now hanging limp and lifeless by her side.
Those lips always curve up in a smile and shower me with kisses, now frozen, unable to turn on the smile that lights up her face.
How does it feel like to be forgotten?
It feels like dying. Like being killed.
Like your existence is wiped away from the world against your will. Not just from any world. But from the world of someone who loves you and someone you owe your life to. And the worst thing is that there’s nothing you can do about it, to claw your way into being remembered or somehow try to redeem memories of you in that world.
I am always someone in love with life. Yet, somehow I always have this firm belief that my days are always numbered in my Maker's Hands. And that when ‘my time’ comes, I will not try to hold on to life. But sitting by her bedside, holding her hands, calling her, without her having an ounce of recognition in her eyes, I wanted to fight: fight for my existence in her memory. I wanted to claim my rightful place in her past and her present. Never in my life had I wished to be remembered. Never in my life had I wanted so bad to live beyond ‘my time’.
Just a little bit longer.
My Ma’s cousin, my other mother, my second mother who was with the family even before my eldest brother was born; ‘Ka Nu’ we called her. She was nothing short of a mother to me. Since Ma was a working woman, she was the one who took care of me, kissed each wound, dressed me, fed me and clothe me. A single mother, she moved away from our home after her only daughter got married in a sleepy little town down south.
May, this year, I was in battling the peak of Delhi heat when I got a call from my cousin who told me that Ka Nu was sick and that she’s taking her to Aizawl for medical checkup. A few weeks later, I was informed Ka Nu had multiple brain tumour and that the doctors told her she doesn’t have long to live. Treatment wouldn’t work at her condition and her age, I was told.
The only thing I did when I heard the news was that I got on my knees and begged God to allow me to meet her and bless her before her time is up.
God is good.
Within a couple of months, I underwent numerous changes in my life. Not a thing was pre-planned. I moved to Aizawl and a month later, I was on a bumpy road towards the southern part of the state.
It was raining when I reached the town. And though it was September, dark rain clouds hovered with mists fogging up the town. And to make it worse, the whole town was out of electricity!! It felt as if the universe knew what sort of emotional state I was in and conspired to make sure I stayed in that state.
I reached her bedside, held her hand and whispered “Nu, ka lo thleng tawh asin!”. Her eyes look at me without an ounce of recognition. My cousin called out to her, “Nu, hei Senmami a lo thleng asin. I koh I koh thin kha!”. No response as she stared at me. Fresh tears spilt on my cheeks as I cried. It was guttural, it was a heartbreaking sob triggered by the pain that has been knitting inside my core for so long. I didn’t care who was there, there was no room for etiquette. And as I sat by her bed, staring at the lifeless limp body, frozen by stroke; a fresh doze of emotions shot through my heart. It was a mixture of happiness to just see her and pain to see her in such a condition. Don't get me wrong! I had my silent "thank yous" to my Father that he granted my wish.
But to be forgotten by the woman who raised you… the pain was magnificent.
Right at that moment, all I wanted and all I wished was to be remembered.
Sometimes, when you wish for something that bad, you start a ‘make-believe’ world. Just half an hour by her side, I started creating my make believe world.
I would like to believe that every squeeze of her hands tells me that she’s glad to see me, that she missed me; that I make her proud every single day. I would like to believe that every blank flicker of her eyes tells me that she loves me; that she’s happy that I came; that she remembers every memory that we’d made together.
I would like to believe that though the words are missing, though there isn’t a flicker of recognition in her eyes, somewhere behind the thick clouds that cover her, there is still that woman who raised me into the person that I am today.
And though I can’t see from the other end of the view, though I don’t know what it feels like to forget, there’s one thing I refuse to accept.
I refuse to be forgotten.
And I refuse to give up the fight until I am remembered...