The love a family gives us is unbelievable and we always wonder as to how our parents could devote themselves and love us selflessly. We have also always wondered how families in the olden days functioned smoothly and how there was a lot of happiness amidst so many members living in a place. Everyone worked hard to keep the happiness and life of the family and its togetherness intact. However, this story of Suraiya remembering her olden days will make us realize how the definition of families are different and sometimes hard as well. Bringing to you another story from the photojournalist GMB Akash, a story of Suraiyah’s definition of family:
“I never called my mother ‘maa’. Calling her maa was prohibited. My mother gave birth to me secretly. I heard that my father never returned to take her back. No one knew where he went. On the day of my mother’s wedding she held me in her chest she cried a lot. I was five years old and never allowed to call my mother ‘Maa’. Her sandalwood smell enchanted me for long. I told her, ‘Aunty your smell is amazing.’ Like everyone, my new father knew I was the daughter of her late sister. He pointed at me and told my grandmother, I should never visit their village. My grandma laughed and snatched me from my mother saying I would never visit them. When my mother was leaving I was locked inside our kitchen but my heart was running behind her. I was crying and saying, ‘Aunty, come back.’ Calling Maa was forbidden.
My grandfather planted a coconut tree when my grandma conceived my mother. That tree was the same age as my mother. She taught me to call that tree ‘Maa’. For twenty years I called that tree ‘Maa’. I never went to see her and she never arrived to see me. Sometimes I secretly embraced the tree and whispered how much I missed my mother. It was very difficult to sleep at night; I wanted to have her smell. Without that sandalwood smell, it was impossible to fall asleep. Most night I cried and cried bu did not utter the word ‘Maa’.
My mother sent all my expenses but I was raised alone. On my wedding day, with everything, my mother also sent me her wedding saree, the saree that my father gave her on their wedding. She was not allowed to attend my wedding. But I did not miss her, I was wearing her wedding saree which had her sandalwood smell. I had no idea if she missed me or not. No idea if she ever wanted to tell me anything. After my mother’s death, they wanted to take me to see her for last time. I did not attend her funeral. Even now to me, my mother is an eighteen-year-old beautiful girl, whose long hair and big eyes are enough to fall in love, who smells like sandalwood. Whenever I close my eyes, I see those big eyes, filled with an ocean of tears. In my dreams I tell her not to worry, I tell her how happy I am without her. Only sometimes I wanted to scream and call her ‘Maa’, ‘Maa come back’.”