I thought I would go to the local Kali temple after work to celebrate ma’s birthday. After their death, I did a ‘shanti pujo’ at the temple. I remember experiencing a fleeting sense of peace as the priest explained the path of the soul and me freeing them by saying, “Go in peace. Rest now. You don’t have to take care of me any more.”
I felt peaceful then but ma would have laughed out loud if I suggested a trip to a temple to celebrate her birthday. I simply can not wish this woman “Happy heavenly birthday, ma”. She did not believe in heaven. And if heaven exists, she certainly did not aspire to go there. She was a trouble maker, rabble rouser, a materialistic woman who had a loud laughter and lit up the room with her presence. She teased and laughed and loved despite many, many years of struggle that she had to go through. She was flawed, she was kind and she was my idol. She refused to fit into a mold. She loved me deeply and gave up a lot in life to provide me with the best opportunities that could possibly be provided. She wanted to give, always. She was a giver. My friends from both school and college came home and promptly went to chat with ‘kakima’ because despite all the hardships, ma had joie de vivre that appealed to both young and old.
On this day, every year, a boyal mach er lyaja (a fish) came to our house for her. If you are reading this, if you live in a place where you get boyal mach and if you like that fish, eat a piece in her honor. I don’t get that fish here. Sahana and I plan to hit the mall, watch a movie, eat Chinese food and celebrate her life-long love. The tradition of watching movie with moms continue, as Sahana pointed out to me this morning. I left my friends and adda to go to movie with ma. My friends joked, “Who goes to movies with their moms at this age?” I laughed and said, “I do.”
It is my ma’s birthday. This was a happy day in my life. I will try very hard to remember that this used to be a very happy day in my life.