Returning from the fringe series
My mother suffered a stroke three weeks before I graduated. Hospitalized, my brothers asked her if she wanted me back. She said, “No, let her finish her studies.” (This is what my brothers told me later.) I was in such a state that I didn’t know which was worse: the loss of my mother or the loss of my mental equilibrium.
My mother’s birthday is on March 14 and I was thinking of her as I usually do around her birthday. But, during that spring semester — which was my last in Madison, Wisconsin — I thought, “Well I may not have anyone in the world, but I have my mother!” At least, I had that one anchor in my life!
When she passed away, that anchor was gone but I didn’t get worse because I had already hit rock bottom. Her death, however, was a factor in turning me around.
She was always on my case for not dressing up. I was quite happy in a pair of jeans and any old T-shirt! For graduation, I had planned to wear a simple kaftan and trainers because it was a long walk to the stadium where the graduation was held! But, when I heard that mother had passed away, I changed my dress scheme. I bought a pair of high-heels and pulled out a sari, tied it, got into my heels and walked all the way to the stadium with brother No 4 who had come to Madison to break the sad news to me after my last exam. It was the most painful walk I have ever made in my life because the brand new shoes pinched like hell!
But, I was determined to look my best — despite the state I was in — on graduation because I knew it would have meant a great deal to her. I made sure I took a number of photos of myself in my robe and mortar board to show off back home so that nobody could say that Sara Pereira didn’t do well by her daughter!
When I came home though, I was so overwhelmed by inner mental turmoil that I blocked her out. Looking back, I realised that no one really ever spoke of my mother in my presence! I think they figured me out better than I did of myself! (Everyone else, anyway, had more emotional intelligence than I did!). But, because of her I began to take responsibility for personal grooming, and did not let myself go.
My mother had attendant problems which she carried bravely and with grace like a good Catholic — she “carried her cross”. Unfortunately, if she had been alive, those problems would have fallen on my shoulders and I don’t think I could have handled them in the state I was in, then. I very quickly came to terms with the fact that with her death, we were both relieved.
It was many, many years later, when I became stable that I began to remember my mother again. She was always smiling when I see her in my mind. I don’t recall her in any other way. When I picture her she is always smiling. And, for the first time after her death I freely went to visit her grave. Bringing a bunch of flowers, I went with my eldest sister-in-law. I did not cry. I had let her go — to an infinitely better place.
On our way back, I recall telling my sister-in-law that I saw this image of my mother in my mind and this time she was smiling broadly — that wide open grin that she rarely gives! We were both pleased.
Since I started remembering my mother, there has not been even one time when she wasn’t smiling. Knowing my mother, I know she is mighty pleased with her daughter; she knows who’s got her in His hands!
That’s a picture of my mum smiling. It wasn’t the best picture I took with my Kodak instamatic but it’s the last picture I have of her, just before she sent me off to university. She was smiling!
NEXT FRI: Bonds that save (Part 2): A friend indeed