Vol. 5 Num 887 Sat. November 25, 2006  


My mother, your Dadi

didn't speak the last months of her life

my chhoto foofoo says one afternoon

as the fan sails lazily

on the dusty spring breeze

I stop writing and look up

the planes of her face are smooth and flat

the darkening age spots, a familiar map

she pulls her shawl close firmly

with that no nonsense way she has

and continues folding clothes into the almari

she just lay there, her eyes closed

we would turn her, clean her, feed her

but she seemed to sleep through it all

foofoo's eyes are far away

I can tell she is watching Dadi as she sleeps

she who ran our house with an iron will

everyone always knew where she was

whether she raised her voice or not

the hawker outside falls silent

swallowed into the hush of Uttara's inner streets

and now you could almost forget

that she was in the room

foofoo's lips twist as she speaks

it might look like disinterest

or perhaps bitterness

if you didn't know her better

it was years after she died

that I learned the word, coma

her tone is wondering

the English word distorted

so I don't even recognise it at first

then it settles into the memory

lies down with Dadi

foofoo closes the almari door

I can see her in the mirror

as she leaves the room

her feet turning out ever so slightly

as she walks

it must have been that

a coma

she says to herself

Abeer Hoque won the Tanenbaum Award in San Francisco for nonfiction in 2005.