by Samanwita Sen
It must have been a treacherous sail across the world.
I can imagine it – how years before my formless thoughts could fathom the existence of time and a world beyond you and this beautiful thing called growing up, you must’ve arched your back, reaching for the specks of stardust shimmering down from the flickering rays of light as the world outside you swayed to a lulling sleep. It had been a long day of arduous work, yet you still reached for the sky, knowing that nothing in the world could possibly stop all the love of wonder and laughter and boundless imagination you had bundled up in that large heart of yours. You squinted your eyes, trying to savour every word that jumped off the page at you, huddled in the corner while you feverishly turned the pages. Back then, your world was boundless. It was the unrelenting bustle of women poised with fierceness and independence in their ornate shawls, of ramshackle streets your siblings darted across to see who could reach the candy stalls first, of rickety rickshaws rattling down the bumpy roads. But it was more than that – it was knowing that within the span of a second you could conjure the most magnificent sights, climb the highest mountains, dream the biggest dreams.
I can see the maps of a world – a world far too elusive and wise for me to fathom – etched into the gaze of your eyes, the callouses of your hands, ridges of treacherous terrain that whisper from your roughened face. The dreams you had as a child still jump up across your face, illuminating the youthful rosiness like light bouncing off freeform rocks, gems on the seabed. I wonder how that child grew into the marvellous, perfectly imperfect people you are today. I wonder how you carry the gleam in their eyes, the bounce in their steps, the unfaltering tips of their smiles, within the fold and creases of your worn-out shadows. The shadows must have stretched and tautened and roughened under the glare of the sun, beckoning you to the enlightenment of maturity. You grew and brought me into the world, a happy child wrapped in the velvet blankets of your love, and coloured my childhood with the vibrant stories of the rich background you came from. The stories shone proudly like your dark glistening skin after a hectic day of running around paying bills, cooking meals, going to work. Yet despite the fatigue, the sweat, the tears, you came and cradled us with arms cushioned by love and compassion and concern.
Sometimes I can’t fathom how much you’ve had to sacrifice just to make us happy. Dreams that peppered every night of your youth and sent you soaring into the skies were soon met with daunting flights across untraversed lands. The creases in your face no longer bore the mark of dimpled smiles but of gripping anxiety after you brought life into the world, life that was fragile, feeble, so helpless. You left the dusty roads and met skyscrapers jutting out of the ground piercing the sky like the jarring concerns of security and illness penetrating your heart as you entered parenthood. You left the candy stalls and your siblings to carve a new narrative in the future, to give your children happiness and memories less fraught with brokenness. You sailed into seas of our turbulent emotions and tumultuous outbursts. You encountered a tongue so different to yours, left behind all that you had ever known and loved, spent sleepless nights in uncertainty, crying over what you had lost, hoping for what you gained and brought into this world.
Dear mother, dear father,
I want to thank you. Memories of gentle evenings tucked into the warmth of your love by the soothing seaside outside the window, of running blissfully down ragged corridors that reverberated with our carefree laughter, and creaked with the echoes of all you had sacrificed; of late, brooding twilights where you nursed us all night as we recovered from illness – such happiness gained, happiness borne out of the irretrievable sacrifices and losses you made.
I arch my back and reach for the shimmering light, bracing myself, stretching out to a horizon of new possibilities that exists because of you. You raised me in an impenetrable fort built on the foundations of sacrifice, gilded with the plates of your resilience, with security guards armoured in your fierce love. So in return, my dear parents, lover, storyteller, dreamer – I hope I make your dreams come true.