Ayau: My Mother

By Moakala T. Aier
On my way to the office, I routinely make an effort to plug into my earphones and listen to a podcast.

I was welcomed by rain on the morning of a Monday, but I still had to stick to my routine, come what may.

There I was, trying to find a taxi while making sure that I wouldn’t get wet while still trying to find a podcast to listen to.

I went on my Spotify application (a popular music smartphone application) and clicked on the latest episode of the AsianBossGirl podcast; a podcast for the modern day Asian American woman hosted by Melody Cheng, Helen Wu, and Janet Wang.

It was their 165th episode titled – ‘Helen & Philip’s Labor & Birth Story’.

As I was listening to the couple narrating their labour and birth story, it occurred to me that I was thinking of my mother and how she must have birthed me; and to be overcome with the realization that I came out of her physical being still makes me shudder.

With my mother residing in another state, we are only four times a call away, a couple of video calls away but there is a void – and this void is one that cannot be explained, only felt.

One thing that I’ve always tried learning from my mother is her culinary skills. She’d just cook a simple curry using the most basic ingredients and it would still be lip-smacking(ly) tasty filling your stomach and soul to the brim.

When we were home together, I would watch her cook from a very close distance, sometimes even write the steps down, asking her tons of questions.

However, the next time around, whenever I’d attempt to replicate the exact version of her recipe, I would fail miserably.

I have asked her several times why mine wouldn’t produce the same results but she does not have an answer.

She says, “Maybe I’ve just been cooking my whole life, that’s why.”

Although, in my mind, I know that it is because she cooks from her heart – and this, I can never recreate.

Being away from home, I still call to ask her for heaps of recipes, I ask her what I should do when I’m down with a stomach ache like she can see and sense the pain right away, she also says a prayer over the phone like it would ward off all the evil forces.

There was a moment when she sent one of her sweaters as it is very cold in Shillong.

Along with the sweater, she sent other food items from home but my eyes fell on her sweater, the sweater that I’ve so often seen her wear when we were together.

I held the sweater, sniffed it even and I could feel her arms, her physical being surmounting the sweater. It is a wonder what mothers can be and do.

Mother’s Day or not, I wish to celebrate my mother every day for who she is.

For those mothers who have lost their children, those who have lost mothers, those with strained mother relationships, mothers with strained child relationships, those who have chosen not to be mothers, those yearning to be mothers , we are thinking of you! (The last sentence has been taken from an illustration by Mari Andrew)

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