Mother’s touch & surmedaani

Mother’s touch & surmedaani

Anoop Kaur Babra

At the invitation of my brother, I visited my family home in Amritsar. I hugged bhabi again and again. Brother and I talked and laughed a little, reminiscing childhood. I showered my nephew with kisses. Bhabi pulled him away, ‘Take bua’s luggage to the guest room.’ It seems like a flip of a storybook page and I took it as a norm when all of a sudden, a daughter becomes a guest in her parental home after marriage. I had come back to my parental home after several years, and a lot had changed. I noticed that none of my growing up memorabilia was to be found. A strange fragrance of stability and permanence in this new atmosphere stormed my mind. My favourite books that adorned a corner of the family room were replaced with some expensive antiques. A proud moment captured in a black-and-white picture hanging in the drawing room, when I topped in high school, had disappeared. It seemed like that moment had never taken place.

Flip of a page/ carved antiques block away/ insignificant memorabilia…

After our mother’s untimely demise, my father stepped into the dual role of both mother and father. I have few memories of her. She died at the age of 32, and left me a toddler in my father’s arms. My father raised us single-handedly, my two older brothers and myself.

Sickle moon/papa comforts little ones/mama rests in peace…

My curious eyes searched for something that breathed the essence of my long-departed mother. My spirits brightened up when I ran into mom’s hand-embroidered and faded shawl, a brass paraat, a rolling pin that had lost its varnish and her brass surmedaani! These treasures were all stack-piled in an open cardboard box collecting dust. I pulled the shawl out of the box, kissed and felt its warmth against my chest.

Withering flowers/the essence of mother/ outlives her shawl…

My hesitation that was as wide and wavering as an ocean was put to rest when I asked bhabi if I could take my mother’s evocative and loving belongings with me. Deep down, I knew that this household had no use for them anymore. Bhabi agreed.

The surmedaani adorned her dressing table. I remember smearing my eyes with surma many times, and dancing in a circle to the rhythm of mom’s favourite song…Main vi kaali, mera maahi vi kala/Asin kaale lok sadeende/ Koh kaaf da surma vi kaala/ Loki akhiyaan vich paweende...

Had mother been alive, she would have performed many rituals upon my arrival at her threshold, and done the same for my safe journey back. She would have kissed my forehead. Carrying my mother’s belongings in my suitcase, and a flood of emotions in my heart, I was headed to the airport.

I couldn’t wait to use the paraat and rolling pin in my kitchen once I was back at Brampton. I felt her gentle hand on my shoulder. The hurt that I carried from home started to soothe.

Flying at 40,000 feet, I looked intensely to have a glimpse of her somewhere in the sky. Everything seemed blurry. I turned my head, closed my eyes. There she was, wiping my tears!

Overcast skies/fine stretch of surma/ connects daughter with mother.

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