Dear amma and accha, you brought me up very well. You gave me all the love you could. Somewhere along the way, or maybe from the very beginning, you just never loved each other.
The other day at work, I read a piece that someone wrote about her childhood and her love for curd. How ridiculous is that? Curd. And I wondered, what my most prominent childhood memory would be. It didn’t take long for me to conclude that this memory or memories in question were of the two of you. Not as parents, but as two people in a marriage. No, not a married couple. Just two very different people stuck or unwound in a marriage that had failed you from a while ago.
Most children that I’ve noticed, tend to shape their ideas of love around their parents. Lucky for me, I never had any such commitments to make. My idea of love was truly mine. And slowly, I lost my idea of love, because I don’t believe any such thing exists. Not that it particularly bothers me, but on some nights, I wonder what it must be like to believe in love. I imagine it to be as enthralling as believing in a god. A being that has the power to change anything in your life. Isn’t love like that too? Love can change anything in your world as well. Maybe love is god and god is love.
If that is the case, then you must really pray a lot to love, amma. Then why is it that love never came to you naturally or love never came to you at all? You prayed every day. You still pray.
If that is the case, then how come you never ran into love, at the temple you frequent accha? Not even one of those surya namaskarams helped you love anyone just a little better.
If these memories do ever serve me right, I can’t have missed every single embrace that you never had. And my memories do serve me very well, I live on them. Which is why I know, that you’ve never smiled at each other, let alone held hands or god forbid, embraced. I remember no traces that love could have left behind, even from a short visit.
However, I do remember our family car rides to your sister’s house, accha. And I remember every single word out of your mouth that made amma cry. It’s etched in my memory like a bad yet catchy song. One you would hum sometimes, but never sing out loud.
However, I do remember how your voice fell slowly when you called bearing good news accha, and amma just didn’t care. When you have loved someone for nineteen years, you can hear their heartbreak even in dead silences.
I remember every instance where your anger got the better of you and you flinched at each other’s sudden movements. I remember hearing things I should never have heard and knowing fully well what they meant. But I never knew why you would say it.
I remember waking up to muffled yet raised voices, nearly every morning in Kerala. I remember waking up and walking to the living room to see what was wrong, just to see the two of you sitting facing each other on the sofa with a tea and coffee in each hand. It was just that normal in our household.
Maybe that’s why it all went south. Because amma was coffee and you were tea accha. Maybe you should have asked him for his beverage preferences when you met him for the first time amma. It would have been the simplest solution in the world. We would all be spared some pain. But if you’d have known each other well enough to decide to never get married, I don’t know what would have become of me and deepu. We would have been someone else’s off springs, without a knowledge or care of what became of the other (each other).
Maybe that is our saving grace. Maybe your tea and coffee gave me deepu, as a saving grace. After everything still, when I look at his baby pictures, you hardly took any, he looked angelic. He came as an angel with droopy cheeks, a straight haired little monster.
Maybe the day you brought him home, we had two armies within one household, but you just didn’t know that the generals were best of friends.
*’Amma’ and ‘Acchan’ stand for Mother and Father, in my mother tongue Malayalam. And Deepu is my little brother.