It has a decade now since I’ve seen you and in that time I have only spoken to you twice. Sometimes I am shocked that it has been so long and, other times, I feel my sudden, unplanned departure from the family home like it was yesterday.
I look back on the last few months with the family as this surreal horror from which I have never fully escaped. Those final events feel like a blur: from that huge elaborate wedding in India, the pictures being taken, being driven to the house of the man I had just married and those days in his house that felt endless. I felt like I was drowning.
Then back home to London and the claustrophobia. I can’t really explain how suffocating it was to not have my own space anymore, my own room. It felt like the slow disintegration of everything that made me who I am. Even the solitary pleasure of listening to Radio 4 was no longer my own. I couldn’t bear being around him. Then your final utterance as I was leaving: make sure you come back home early.
I try to put myself in your shoes. You had consented to a marriage when you were much younger than me and there I was: educated, older, far too independent and far too westernised. I wish you had asked me for less, because by the end I had no other option but to choose and it has been a very high price to pay.
After all this time, I still occasionally feel the pang of guilt for walking away and for not being that person that you wanted or the person that you could love. But despite this, these last years away have been transformative and wonderful things have happened and continue to happen. As Johnny Cash sung: It's not easy to be all alone but time goes by and life goes on.
There have been the friends and the travelling and the laughter and embracing freedom and new opportunities.
I wonder if you think about me? Your middle child; the one child you don’t see; you never speak to. How do you remember that time?
I also wonder if you ever imagine us seeing each other again. I can never create a ‘normal’ relationship between us in my mind; imagine calling you up for a catch-up or popping round for a cup of tea. I drove through my old neighbourhood last week and I remembered surveying the streets for you or my siblings and sometimes I think we wouldn’t recognise each other. But of course we would, ‘cos you’re my mum.