Her Aura

By Anonymous Writer

Once I found out, I wrote my goodbyes, and prepared myself for the worst. Her place was already engraved in my heart, so trying to accept that I might lose her one-day, because of this specific reason was probably the most emotional train I ever was a passenger on.  “All that I am or ever hope to be, I owe to my angel mother.” ― Abraham Lincoln. My name is X and my mother was diagnosed with breast cancer, when I was only 4 years old, and I remember the experience as clear as day. During this experience I was competing for love and attention that I knew I wouldn’t get, because my mentor, my better half was having marvelous chemotherapy emanate within her bloodstream.

Admittedly, I counted the days, hours and minutes. Gaiety never seemed so distant.  When will I lay my eyes on her and not feel the need to look away because I could sense her sorrow telling me it’s still not time to take in her appearance, and scan her sickness as if I’m superior. But I was only her youngest daughter looking for an affectionate, tender touch from her mother. At that age I didn’t pay attention about how she looked like, I will always view her as my savior, my mother, as the most finest, exceptional lady I ever encountered. My eyes slowly rebelled and started examining her hairless head, her tiresome broken body, and her drowsy eyes, but my oh my did her skin glow like the moon, and her powerful, structured cheekbones carried her beautiful face up high like no other. I was astounded by her vibe, by the way she accepted this difficulty and decided to face the facts and act upon. Consequently, my mother was never one to dance around lies just to make her or others feel better, she was simply, compromisingly forthright.

“I got you flowers,” I said, as my hands reached inside my tiny, inconvenient purse. It was the second time I flied to her, during her chemotherapy journey in majestic Mumbai. Earlier that day, before leaving the house, I quickly picked jasmine flowers from our garden, carelessly stuffed them in my purse and rushed to the car. Once we landed, I was anticipating seeing my mother. I couldn’t wait until I throw my arms around her and give her a long awaited hug, and show her the pretty, young jasmines I got her. I wanted her to remember our house. The house that used to be a home, until her footsteps faded and her presence disappeared. I wanted her to reminisce on radiant memories that would only make her smile. “Thank you,” she said as she reached her hand out to take the worn out jasmines that weren’t given their privileges in my restricted purse. She held them close to her ravishing face, and a beaming smile instantly delineated her countenance. In addition, she pulled me close and kissed my cheek, as I was awkwardly positioned on her bed. I didn’t care; I wanted to relish the moment…. until I started crying and grasping her tightly, thinking maybe if I didn’t let go, everything would go back to normal. “This was never supposed to happen, this was never supposed to happen” that vacant phrase kept reiterating and echoing in my head.

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         Granted, that was officially the last time my mother was accompanied by chemotherapy for an entire day. “Thank you for being a good escort” I said sarcastically, “you’ve helped us overcome.” We were all in raptures, screaming out of joy with no sound, happiness conquered and smiles were contagious. Undoubtedly, I cried from contentment, and said, “Finally, closure.” At last, after an extended period of waiting, I hear the footsteps of a lighthearted survivor, a combatant who defeated cancer, a woman flourishing with strong, incandescent hope and faith. She reincarnated the spirit and liveliness of the house, and I finally felt complete. I ran to her, hugged her as crystal-like tears rolled down my eyes, although it took my brain a while to acknowledge that she’s back, for good. “Mum!!” I cried, “You’re finally back, you look so beautiful.” “My dearest daughter, I missed you so much” she said as she stroked the back of her hand on my face. Unquestionably, I rushed to prepare her some hors d’oeuvre’s, before lunchtime, so I took out her favorite olives that were garnished with garlic, olive oil and a hint of chili pepper. Then I added some Gouda cheese slices, and cut them up into squares. My mother was always a dairy fanatic and she always found pleasure in the little things, which made her more appreciative as an individual. Her simple snack was completed and I poured her a refreshing glass of Hibiscus, the floral essence of which she loved

In a nutshell, experiencing my mother slowly being torn down by cancerous growth, cut me up into a million pieces, as if my soul was dispersed in a sea of depression. I had to stay strong in order for her to remain secure. The last thing a sick patient wants is an emotional, unstable family member. She needed us to be her rock, and oh boy did we deliver the Grand Canyon for her kind soul. Point in fact, I didn’t just go through this experience, but I grew with it. It changed me for the better and it showed me that life isn’t always rainbows and butterflies, and every individual is bound to face a crisis at least once in their lifetime. The way they manage and act during this crisis determines who they are, and what they’re capable of. My mother was always my rock and still is, she taught me right from wrong, and she held my hand through scary situations. My mother’s soul is embedded within mine; she is a part of me. I aspire to be like her one day, for she is the strongest, most courageous, selfless person I ever met and will ever meet.

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Surviving a Storm

By Shamma Kabital

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The audience thunderously roars, their claps resonating like the thuds and patterings of heavy rain. I am a frail rabbit amidst the storm, shuddering with angst, as a lightning bolt of terror strikes my meagre form. I’m at my first poetry reading. It is my turn to recite, and I am afraid.

You see, I have always been introverted in nature; reserved and quiet, living in my own bubble of fantasies and dreams. Needless to say, I was never a people’s person. Social interaction has never been my strong suit. Naturally, I never really shared my literary works with ones beyond my own little party of friends and family, nor did I ever feel the need to. At least not until that particular morning last week in which I assumed participating in this poetry recital would be a good idea, for some indecipherable reason. How bitterly I regret my decision now!

“Miss Shamma, are you there?” My name is called a second time. I reluctantly force myself to rise and walk towards the stage, precariously ascending the steps. The withered wood creaks beneath my feet, as though it is whining in pain or cringing in second hand embarrassment, like it knows what’s coming. I sync my strides with the pounding of my heart; the longest walk of my life, and finally stand in front of the waiting microphone. My usually sharp mind is clouded with unease. My pupils dilate upon resting on the daunting sight of the audience, their anticipatory gazes piercing my veil of confidence; well, all that is left of it.

My quivering lips manage a soft “hello”, and a rather lame introduction: “My name is Shamma. I am fifteen years old and I’ll be reading out to you a poem of mine.” I sigh heavily and mutter quick prayers beneath my breath, ready to start, until I come to the realization that I’ve forgotten all the words. My hands start to tremble uncontrollably, like an earthquake, and I curse myself for not thinking things through. Droplets of sweat slide down the sides of my face, and I use my sleeves to blot them dry. I haven’t a single notion or clue on what to do next. Acting on impulse, I grab the microphone and to the audience mumble, “I’m sorry, I can’t do this.” before dashing off stage, as tornadoes of self-doubt and belittlement whirl through my complex head.

My mother finds me hiding in the bathroom. Cautiously, she comes forward and tenderly strokes my face without a word, understanding all. She then pulls me into her soft embrace, and I want to stay there forever, safe, secure, and happy in my mama’s arms. She finally lets go, and the trance is broken. Somehow, reality always finds a way to interfere. She grabs my hand, looks into my eyes, and in a whispery, windy voice asks, “Shamma, why are you afraid?” I gulp, pondering a while before shakily replying, “I’m not sure, but I think it has to do with my fear of failure. I fear not meeting others’ expectations, or even worse, not being able to meet my own. I’m afraid of making mistakes, of messing things up, so I try my best to keep avoiding.

You know me, Mama, I’m a runner. I don’t face challenges, I escape them.. and I know you hate that; I hate it too. But I’m not like you, Mama. I’m no leader. I’m no challenge-facer nor risk-taker.” I pause and take a ragged breath, trying to process what I’m saying, before resuming, “I’m a coward, Mama. I’m nothing more than a coward living in a world of my own; a prison-cell of my design. I don’t belong…” My voice breaks down towards the end as a silent tear trails down my shame-reddened cheeks.

A few minutes pass, and Mother remains silent, so unlike her loquacious nature, and I am grateful, for it gives me time to regain my composure. Finally, she begins: “Shamma. Dear Shamma, listen to me and listen carefully. You are unique. You are special. And I know one thing for sure: you are definitely not a coward. You are my daughter and I know you. I know how brave and smart you are.  My dear, you’ve got the heart of a lioness, the mind of a philosopher, and the prudence of a queen. So raise your head,” I obey, “because one day, you will find your place in this world and you will do big things, I guarantee that. But first, you must find yourself, and the initial step in doing so is driving away your fears, or even better, facing them head-on. Only then will you discover where your true strengths lie.”

I nod, and with a reassuring smile, she lets go of my hands, turns around, and walks out the threshold. I thoroughly contemplate my mother’s brief snippet of wisdom as my lingering doubt is gradually replaced by waves of unanticipated confidence. Mama is right, I think to myself, I’ll never achieve anything sustainable in life if I let myself be hindered by petty worries and trivial doubts. I mustn’t let fear steer the wheel; I mustn’t let fear be my puppeteer. I realize now that if I let my fears control me, it’s a recipe for lifelong misery. On the spot, I make a spontaneous decision.

I step back onto the stage, mustering every last ounce of confidence within me, and proudly introduce myself to the audience once more. I spot my twinkly-eyed mom in the crowd and mouth a silent “Thank you” paired with an appreciative grin. Feeling apprehension sneakily crawl into my voice, I immediately dismiss it and carry on reciting my poem with a steady tone and utter clarity. I am energized by the crowd’s glorious applause upon my conclusion of the piece. I’ve survived a deadly hurricane. The skies are now clear and the sun is shining. What a triumph! What a victory!