You know that perfect moment of happiness?
You wake up in the morning with the clarity that it’s a Sunday, miraculously you’ve done your homework or there was none, no exams looming, your friends are still talking to you and your boyfriend hasn’t yet kissed your best friend.
But mostly because your mother is still alive, to make it all better,
In fact she’s right now in the kitchen,
Humming a Bollywood song, giving it a Carnatic lilt that makes you smile thinking you can take a girl out of Madras 35 years ago…
She continues to match her pitch to the hum of the mixer-grinder as she grinds the chutney.
Chutney! Which means it’s idlis! Almost on cue,the idli-cooker whistles and the unmistakable fermented-steamed-chock-full-of-B12 goodness aroma wafts over.
You also know that it’s that one day your parents haven’t been fighting, because of the self-same humming.
You father looks at her with a heavy-lidded, bedazzled, thrilled to be married to this goddess expression and you know why this morning is a perfect morning.
You know then that you may crawl into her lap today, into the soft folds of her well-worn Sungudi and smell her earthy, jasmine and coconut oil smell and she wouldn’t shove you off in a familiar rage over a life unlived and the child that continually disappoints.
And that’s the instant you know you’ve messed it up.
So you screw up your eyes tighter, holding the moment in a stranglehold, knowing that’s the second worst thing to do to a moment.
Moments like bubbles are an exact science. The accuracy of proportion of distilled water to soap to glycerine gives you hardy bubbles, you can even catch them in the little hoop over and over and keep recreating the same bubble. But you cannot ever touch one.
I could have beheld the dream, moment, bubble of perfect happiness longer, if I hadn’t tried to touch her.
And now she’s dead.