A gift and a goodbye

When my mother was finally discharged, she had become a shadow of her former self.

It was on June 14 a couple of years ago when my mother was diagnosed with diabetes. Though thankfully it was not insulin-dependent diabetes – which heralds in its wake grave symptoms – it was diabetes nevertheless. The family had to necessarily make great lifestyle changes to help my mother recuperate and cope. But luckily for us, she was an obedient patient and by temperament, she was strong, capable and extremely courageous.

“Age does not wither her nor custom stale her infinite variety,” is one of Shakespeare’s quotable quotes, which could well apply to my mother for she had endless resources of energy and verve even in her so-called “old age”. “Age is just a number” and “You are as young as you feel” were two of her favourite quotes that belied her 60+ years of age.
However, though my mother was resilient and determined, she was unable to come to terms with her diabetes’ diet restrictions. She was addicted to savouries like jams, Ferrero Rocher  chocolates and strawberry ice-cream, which she insisted on partaking. Only when her health took a dismal toll after a hypoglycemic episode and she had to be hospitalised, did my mother modify her stance on savouries. Keen to lower her blood sugar level, the nurses had tests done on her and as per the findings, the diets were finalised. She finally relented and agreed to eating more of vegetables, like bitter gourd, although she squirmed and grimaced while doing so.

When my mother was finally discharged, she had become a shadow of her former self – withdrawn, morose and something of a recluse. She had enough foresight to know that her end was near, but for the sake of the children she didn’t want to go. On my birthday, she gifted me a pair of beautiful diamond earrings. They consisted of diamond studs, on which hung huge white pearls. She averred that “The diamonds are because ‘they are a girl’s best friends’ and the pearls are because ‘they are rare, pure and pristine’” A month later, my mother died. A hugely painful death, her body having been ingested with bitter medicines and tonics.

For many years, I did not wear the earrings, for they seemed to me a reminder of my mother’s pain. Whenever I looked at the earrings, I would think of my mother’s breathlessness when she climbed the stairs, her eyes straining to see after her cataract operation, and her body struggling to breathe after she had been rendered almost a bag of bones in the hospital. The earrings reminded me not of beauty and positivism, but of death and destruction.

That was five years ago. This year, for a New Year Party, I wore the beautiful earrings for the first time. I now saw them in a different light – as a legacy left by my mother which after her, I had to live on. At the party, I garnered much praise and adulation for my wanting to start a new year and make a fresh start. So, goodbye mom. It’s time to move on.

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