i was my mother’s only child, and she almost died giving birth to me.
we were best friends. the kind that bicker & argue all the time.
we were also so incredibly stubborn.
my mother died in 2013, when i was 32 years old.
we had just spent 18 months living together in an absurdly large house in Goa.
18 months with my mother and her liver tumour.
her dying was an earthquake & a tsunami. i got washed away deep into grief, and self-reckoning; exploring each and every corner of our stubborn, argumentative, confusing, fragile & so deeply loving relationship.
i had a relationship with my mother as she was, and i have a relationship with my mother-as-she-is-now.
it is an ongoing journey. incredibly precious.
when she died, it took me 2 years to find the words i needed to share this journey, and i recently published a short memoir about my relationship with my mother & my journey with her dying.
my mother gifted me with the love of words, poetry & writing- which she herself had inherited from her mother (and father too).
when i was an unborn thing, uncurled in the warm & quiet of her body, she wrote me a poem.
‘To My Unborn Child’, she called it. i would very much like to share it here, with you.
What shall i say to you, you who i can feel day after day,
growing inside me, living inside me,
you whom i don’t know, of whom both of us can say,
flesh of my flesh, blood of my blood.
What can i say to you?
And what can i tell of this rude world
where people take death into their hands,
and clinging to their own, disperse that of others
in their betrayal of life, betray their own mothers.
So some take blood, while others shed it.
Human vampires and human victims.
What shall i say to you about it,
You who are yet unborn?
And what shall i answer
if you were to ask about the world
into which you will be born,
that i don’t know when it will burst asunder
because death is riding closer and closer
and the winds of doom are howling louder
as the winds of war will in your ear,
that it is painful to laugh when one is crying,
to stop this destruction and mad pretending,
in the same breath life insurance and atom bombing.
Who shall say life is for the living, and death for the dying,
when the ranks are all mixed up and which of us is lying?
So if you should ask why i should enter your world,
me who belong neither to the dead nor the living,
how shall i answer, except to tell you that i will love you
and i will care for you,
and like fragments of an unknown song stuck in one’s mind
you’ll find somewhere air sweet enough to breathe,
and that if you’re born to die, you’re also born to live,
and there’s space in between to rest your wings
till you’re ready to fly and perhaps find out the reason
why you’re not yet ready to die.
Don’t ask me the reason for why you will be born,
i carry you and will care for you,
i’ll love you with my heart and my mind,
but the reason – that is yours to find.
(written by Sputnik Kilambi on the 22nd May 1980)
Thank you so very much for sharing this poem with me. Would you like to find out more about my memoir? Click here: A Mother Dies.