October 16, 2020

Dear Mama: “I’m Sorry I couldn’t Save You.”

Dear Mama,

When that fated call came late at night, I did not expect a part of me to die with you. I never imagined what it would be like to lose you forever. I never imagined that there would come a time when I would stop hearing your voice and your laughter. I can’t believe that I was so naive.

I remember when you said to me that my grandmother wanted to see me get married before she died, and I told you, “I don’t care who lives or dies. I am not going to be forced into an arranged marriage!”

Oh, how I wish I had known that the person I was going to lose would be you.

I don’t know why an arranged marriage was so important to you. I don’t know why you couldn’t see that you were emotionally blackmailing and manipulating me—exactly how you had been. Why?!

I remember when I said that we should run away from Dad. I was terrified that there would be more pain. I didn’t want the same future for myself. I was afraid that I would have the same fate if I agreed to an arranged marriage. I wanted to make my own choice, Mama. And I am glad I did.

Mama, I am sorry that you had the life that you had. I am sorry that you were born into a family of people who manipulated you—forced you into marrying someone you did not love (someone who did not love you). I am sorry that, over the years, you struggled to remember who you were, the dreams you had, and the life you wanted.

Mama, I am sorry that I chose a different path. And I am sorry that it hurt you. 

I am sorry you felt that your child, who was your saving grace when you were in the throes of depression, abandoned you. I promise you that I didn’t; I just wanted to make myself strong—independent enough so that I could rescue you too!

I am sorry that you struggled to accept me for who I am and who I wanted to be. I am sorry that I made decisions without involving you because I knew you would not approve.

But I am also thankful.

I am so thankful, Mama, that you fought for me to go to a good school. I am so thankful that you wanted to leave where we were born and live in a Western country, so I could see that women can live a free life—even though you didn’t get one.

I am so thankful, Mama, that you took your role as my mother so seriously. And that you were so involved in everything I did. My school assignments and projects would not have been as wonderful if it wasn’t for your enthusiasm. I owe my creativity and my joy of learning to you, Mama.

I am so thankful for all your cooking, cleaning, washing, dusting—and that you made me help. If it wasn’t for the things I learned from you, I would not have been able to live the life I am now. My kitchen is my pride and joy, and I learned that from you. I miss your bhindi and parathas. I even tried making shahi tukray. They tasted nothing like yours, but I thought you would be proud to hear that I tried.

Mama, I wish I could bring you back and give you the life that you deserved—a life of freedom.

You know, I never found out how you died. They said you had a fever that wouldn’t go away, and eventually, your organs hemorrhaged. Just two weeks after being admitted to the hospital, you were gone.

Mama, if I could ask you just one thing, I would ask: did you want to leave? 

I really want to know. 

I know I will never know, but my heart says it was the only way out that you thought you had.

Mama, I’m sorry I couldn’t save you. I am sorry that I could not rescue you. I don’t know where you are. I don’t know what happens after people die. I researched it a lot after you left, but I still don’t know for sure.

I don’t know if you still exist somewhere, in some way. If you do, I hope that you are happy and living the beautiful life that you so deserve.

Thank you for everything, Mama.

I will always love you.

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