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“You tell me not to judge myself, or people on how they look, Mamma, but what about the fact that you judge yourself all the time?” Asks a daughter.
I write to you to talk of your untold and invisible loads, that I think, heavily weigh you down. Sometimes I wish I could carry them for you. In those moments I rush to give you a hug, but mostly I feel you are unwilling to pass them on to me.
Maybe because you love your daughter so much that you never want her to go through the oppressive demands of life. And yet, today I feel the need to let you know that unknowingly you hand me down the burden to stay ‘forever young’.
No, you never tell me this in so many words. On the contrary you have often said that beauty is merely a perception and we must rise above the constraints of physical charm. I, too, would love to believe this and live free…Oh! So free.
But then, on some days when I see you harrowed by the grey streaks that line your temples, I begin to believe that it’s not beautiful to grow old. I fear that I may not be loved enough the day I sport those silver lines.
Only the other day you slammed a friend who body shamed another. I am so proud of you for doing that. But whenever you get on and off the weighing machine, I sense your discomfort. And I tell myself therein lies my worth.
You always compliment dadi for her graceful charm and there is this ‘grow old gracefully’ phrase that you often quote. But then, I also witness how a single crease on the face doubles your anxiety and you begin to search for home remedies to prolong what will eventually befall us all.
Mom, I don’t even think you realise that you carry this perceptible burden which takes away so much of that space in which you could breathe for being just you. You are quick to tell me that we mustn’t be judging people for the way they look. But I see you judging yourself, each day, as you peep into the mirror.
I grow watching you struggle to win this race against time. And it makes me think that I’m leaving my best years behind. Your songs of liberation sound sweet to my ears. But I know I will forget them very soon. What I will remember is how you lived, and the day you let go of this unseen burden that I call ‘forever young’ you will set both of us free!
Your darling daughter.
A version of this was first published here.
Image source: shutterstock
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