Sunday, 18 March 2018

To You, Ayeshu

(Background: This love letter comes with a side serving of an apology for how long it took. A mother wanted me to write a love letter for her daughter, Ayesha, as a first birthday present. After an email and speaking to her for half an hour, I struggled with representing a feeling I didn't know of myself. So here it is, "amma", a love letter from you to Ayesha, I hope I've done this justice. Happy birthday, may every year feel like new magic and old love).

Dear Ayeshu,


The making of a person is a great many things.

But first comes the making of the two parents. Their zig-zagged journey of becomings, unbecomings, coming together and navigating life until they’re ready to make space for a new one. Your father and I finding each other, in this mixed up world, and building our home together felt like it’s own special miracle to me. Our love felt so incredible and complete that I wasn’t sure there was room in our world for any more. That is until you came along.


I don’t remember when you became a part of me, maybe it was that hot evening your father and I had just eaten gol gappas at Om Sweets and I felt a wave pass through me, like a tiny fish swimming home tired after a long day. Or one of the many, many visits to our doctor where I’d ensure that I saw the scans over and over again to make sure every toe was exactly where it belonged. You were building yourself inside me, kunju kutty, verterbra by verterbra and all I wanted was to give you the best first home you’d ever know.


I wish I could tell you the specific moment you became a part of us but something feels like you’ve been here all along, in ways neither me nor your father can ever understand. You’re made of an old school love, romance and a friendship a decade deep that I wonder sometimes, if that’s where you get your personality from. 

I know you get your big, beautiful eyes, your dimples which flicker like stars each time you laugh, and your voice from me, but the way you love and trust so completely is magic I didn’t know of before. 
Do you know that you also inherit the thickness and heart of four languages (English, Hindi, Marathi and Tamil)? When I scold you softly, or when I hold you against my heart to feed you, I whisper to you only in Tamil, “kunju kutty”, ,my “ammu kutty”, like my mother used to talk to me. Is this why they call it mother tongue? 
In your flesh, I find myself remembering and being my mother. 
Are you teaching me soft lessons on memory, legacies and roots, my little girl?



Because this year, I’ve learnt so much from you. 

How before any fancy corporate title, I will always be Chief Worrier of anything that can happen to you. I will successfully imagine, dismantle and preemptively take action against a thousand things that can go wrong, when you’ve only so much as rolled over on your back. You’ve taught me that reason you’re called my “flesh and blood”, is because every time you’ve fallen sick and not been eating, I’ve watched my own heart sink and my appetite curl up in a foetal position refusing to get up.



You’ve taught me that I cannot plan everything. Don’t get me wrong, kid, I will still continue to, but with you I know that along the way I’ll learn how to give up control and just laugh along, because look there’s a bird in the sky and that’s all that’s deserving of our immediate attention at this moment. 


I’m watching you become a little person. I see shadows of moods cross your face. I see hints of edges of your father and me and I see already, all the things we will talk about when you’re talking to us. 
I have a list Ayeshu, and I know it will not hold a candle to the wonder and world of questions you’ll bring to us.


You’ve taught me that my one year old precious girl can be the master of appearances. Strangers stopped us after your first birthday at Tirupati, to comment on how calm and well behaved you were. Baby girl, do you specially reserve this peaceful calm for strangers and all your beautiful storms for amma?


More than anything else, Ayeshu, you’re teaching me how to renegotiate, navigate, learn and unlearn contours of love and life. I’m learning with you, how to love differently, insistently and more permanently: myself, your amazing father, our life together and you.



Happy first birthday.



All my love,

Amma





                                            (This is Ayesha, in "Amma's" belly)

(To You is a letter writing project I started because there are not enough letters and love going around. If you have something to say with love-- for your ex girlfriend, you current husband, pizza (promise not to make it cheesy), your landlord who let you skip rent or even Ryan Gosling-- I'll write that letter for you. The love letter can go with real names, back stories, as many pictures as you like, aliases and even super powers.
The final letter will be up on my blog and a copy will be handwritten and posted to you or to an intended recipient. Kisses on the envelope only on my discretion. Give me a shout at: kakulgautam@gmail.com or on my Instagram account @hyperbolemuch)

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