Dear India

Hi Mom,

So I am  a bit behind on this 21 Days of Abundance thing now, but how can you really be behind when it comes to abundance right?

I’m on Day 18 and the theme is Live in Unity.

The Assignment is to write a letter to your country of origin. In this letter, I am to express all my feelings about the country, remembering that all of my feelings are valid and approrpriate. I am to write everything that arises, it says.

I thought I would share this with you, Mom for a few reasons:

  1. We never really talked about India in particular, and I know you wanted to go see it. And I have never seen it.
  2. For me, India was partly what I saw of our Indian culture through you- the sarees, the bangles, the languages, the skin tones, the accents, the food, the family values, the celebrations. But another part for me was what I imagine India to be. What I dream it to be. And I wonder what you thought of India. If we had totally different views shared some. I’m sure we shared a lot of views, but it was a shame I never asked you about your thoughts on it. Maybe I can tap into your thoughts by writing mine down to you.
  3. To be honest, I’m running out of pens that work. It is still the time of the Corona Virus, and we are staying in as much as we can. So when I do go out, which is so rarely, it’s only for food, or a walk, or toiletries and that kind of thing, even though there seems to be no toilet paper available anywhere I go. And where there might be, the lines are so long. So then I forget that I need more pens. Oh well. This might be more fun and interesting.

holi-festival-of-colors-india-girlDear India,

You aren’t forgotten, I just want you to know that. I know that’s where I originated from. I know that my grandfather was born in India. I believe in a little town called Purbandar where Gandhi grew up, in Gujerat. But to be honest, I haven’t taken the time to really learn more about the different regions or history. I find that I learn more about a place when I get an authentic feel for it and that usually means going there myself. Being surrounded by it and the culture and the smells and the food and the voices, accents, and languages.

I imagine India to be so full of colour, and depth. Like the celebration of Holi, but not always so cheerful. In fact, I feel the heaviness of India when I think about it. Not because I think it is a poor country, or that the people are poor or have less than or are less than, but I imagine so many people there, and not enough rescources for them.

I know not everywhere in India is like that, but I think that it is true for some parts. And that I would feel overwhelmed by what I would see on the streets- beggars, kids, crippled bodies. Again, it’s not that I think that’s all that it’s about, but that’s what we hear about a lot, and not just from media. I read books by authors who were born and brough up in India, and they describe the conditions there. It is hard for me to even read, let alone imagine witnessing in person, and then to actually have lived that, I don’t know how people do that. The human spirit is amazing. I think India would be a testament to that.

And to be honest, I would feel ashamed in some ways if I was there. Not to be Indian. But ashamed to be living such a good life here in the west while the sons and daughters of my ancestors, the aunts and uncles of my culture of origin, could be living in such dire conditions. It humbles me. It makes me wonder how that gets chosen- where we live and grow up, what conditions we have surrounding us from a young age.

I think India must have such a depth of character and wisdom that is beyond most people here in the west. I imagine that like in Buenos Aires, the streets and walls ooze out secrets and stories of centuries ago. It is not something we could see, but sense in the air, and feel under our feet when we walk. I think we could breathe it in, without knowing what exactly it is, but knowing the taste is different. And swallowing that could change us inside forever, even though we might not be able to put a word to what it is exactly.

I know that visiting you India would be more than a visit. I know it would be a profound jounrey for me, even if I wasn’t there for a long time. I think it would be a mixture of feeling like coming back home, and also feeling so lost and out of place because of the kind of lifestyle I am not used to.

I feel we are spoiled here in the west That everything is so clean and proper and safe and cut and dry. I am not complaining. Not at all. I am so grateful for my life. But I think going to India would shake that normal life up for me a lot, probably in a good way, but it would still be overwhelming.

I imagine lots of flowing colours- silks and sarees, and bangles and gold and henna like artwork on bodies, on skin, on streets, and in the air and clouds. Like the country would be streaked of something deep and dark and red that would seep into our own skin whether we were getting a tattoo or not.

I think the different smells from the food- all the spices and curries – would mix together and confuse my nose at first, until maybe a few days in when I think I would be able to learn to decipher between different scents. I might not be able to name them all. But I would know that one is different from the other, or that I had spelled on yesterday in one market that I now smell on a completely different street corner or off of a person who walked by in a different amount than yesterday’s.

I think the foods would take some getting used to on my taste buds. I think I would want to try some, and want to stay away from others because the richness might seem too much for me or my stomach.

I would like to watch people eat with their families and speak in different languages, and laugh and love and hug and cry just as we would, knowing that we are all the same, even though we are so far from each other and call each other strangers at first.

I don’t know if you would take me in as one of you, India. Maybe you would, I think you would. But I might not fit in there fully. But in Canada, I don’t just think of myself as Canadian. And it’s okay. I don’t want to fit in in either one spot exactly. I like being a part of both, and the rest of me just being me.

I don’t know if I will make it to see you this lifetime around. I have trouble traveling just to places that aren’t as exotic or hot, or “different” as you. Walking is sometimes tough for me, especially in the heat. And my health has been so up and down. Just really sensitive to foods and weather and change of anything really, even flying long distances. But you are at the top of my list of places to see. Actually, I don’t have many places left anymore on my list. I used to love traveling and want to do it so much before.

But nowadays, I am happy to be home and build my strength and self up here. I do want to see you though. Forgive me if I haven’t yet or if it is still up in the air if I ever will be able to. I want you to know that I am grateful for you. For giving me culture, for bringing up my ancestors, for giving me colour and dimension and intrigue and language and depth. I feel you. I might not know you in and out, not even close. I might not know your street or city names or maps, but I trust you to take me where I need to within you, to get a sense of the you you want me to know.

I am so grateful for you being my family tree, and leading to my grandma and grandpa getting together and having my mom come from your roots, even though she was born in another country. Thank you for letting her still be Indian in Africa, and for letting her be Indian in Canada. And for giving us roots and magic and natural healing and spices that take me back to a home that I have never been, but long to return to just to see and feel it again.

Thank you, India.

Thank you, Mom.

Thank you, Mama, Bapa, and all my ancestors especially from India.

I still feel you.

Love Tas

 

 

Like You…

family mother and child daughter hugs and warm on winter evening by fireplace

Dear Mom,

Today is Day 13 of the 21 Days of Abundance Challenge (as prescribed by Deepak Chopra0. The assignement asks for me to think about the description I wrote about you a few days ago (from Day 11 and 12) and then consider my own life and my own patterns of behaviour.

The questions I am asked to reflect on are:

  1. Do you see some similarities between you and your mom
  2. and What are they and how were they formed?

Whooh. I just took a shallow breath in but a deep exhale out. I might need to do that again, trying for a deeper breath in this time.

I would say that is one little thing we had in common. I think you also breathed in shallow, or that you didn’t take as many opportunities to breathe deep into yourself. I could be wrong, and perhaps you did do this many times in those mornings you spent hours in meditation in Khane.

I just remember almost hearing and feeling a shallowness in your breathing that often worried me. I don’t breathe deeply myself. But there are a few different reasons for that, I think, which I won’t go into right now.

Other things that are similar between you and me:

I like tea- because of you. I don’t like drinking cold water.  It feels like a jolt to my system. And I remember you telling me it isn’t good for our bodies. I agree. Thanks, Mom.

I like warmth or coziness in general- blankets, warm socks, slippers and comfy sweatshirts or leggings when I am at home. I also like warm voices, and warm energy from people I am around. I think were like that too in terms of your preference, though I think you preferred not to wear any thick socks on your feet.

Guess what, mom? I do so many things now that are like you that I didn’t even realize until the last few years. I pile my clean laundry in neat stacks on the futon that you had. The same futon you used to pile your granddaughters’ clothes just in case they might need an extra pair of underwear, socks, shirts or pants when they came over.

My pile is just my own clothes. Eventually, they make their way to my closet. But I think I keep them out on the futon a little longer these days to try to feel what you may have felt when you did the same.

I also got rid of my little garbage can in the kitchen a year or more ago. I realized that, like you, I was never using it. I didn’t like the idea of garbage piling up in it and smelling the underneath of my kitchen sink, the cabinet where I had put the garbage bin. So I always use a plastic bag hanging off one of the handles of a kitchen drawer, as my garbage bag. No bin needed. That is definitely a Laila move. 🙂

I am walking around my apartment with my slippers off of my heels. I do that with a lot of my shoes- getting lazy about putting the back of the shoe over my heels and getting my whole foot in. I think for you this was more of a convenience because you probably had a harder time reaching down to get your heel in. I do that too a lot of the times, and I have seen your eldest granddaughter do this often too. I will see if it trickles down to your youngest granddaughter as well. Now, when my shoes are laid out, you can see a dip or bend in the back top part of the heel where my foot crushed that part down instead of going into the shoe. Oops.

I like birds, and watching them- more so because of you and Mama. But I do. I take my time with things too. I like moving slowly even though I envy people who can do things sharply and quickly. But it doesn’t feel comfortable for me. I know you were like that too. I found out that that is probably because we are both heavily governed by the Earth Element according to the Chinese Medicine system of personality types. I am sure you were more Earth than any of the other five elements, and suprisingly, from my scores on some quizzes I took to determine my dominant element, I am more Earth as well.

Earth’s are compassionate, caring, mothering, and love to bring people together. I would say that describes you more than me. I mean, I am caring and compassionate, and I worry about things and people like I am sure you did. But you were the ultimate mother figure. I am a giver, but nothing compared to you. I can be cute, but never as cute as you. And my worries sometimes led me to confusion and an inability to act. Whereas, your worrying made you act on things to make sure that everyone around you was safe and protected, included and loved.

You were definitely way more courageous than I am. Although you didn’t come across as an arguer or someone who got into people’s faces with your opinions, you definitely spoke up when it was needed. You stood your ground, you fought for what was right and good for your loved ones, and I am still trying to learn from that, to find that within me.

You gave more than you had most of the time. I would say that I am not that giving. I mean, when I have less, I panic, and hold onto what I have because of fear that I will lose it or fear from projecting ahead to the worst case scenario what-ifs. You didn’t do that. You actually demonstrated true abundance by letting things go- trinkets, money, love, energy, time- because somewhere deep down inside, you knew, or maybe your subconscious knew- that living and giving was more important. Even when you had very little, you didn’t complain about it or go into any panic mode or hoard what you did have. You still gave, which makes me again so humbled by your great example of abundance. You just had to believe it was there in order to give as much as you did without fear, without selfishness, without hesitancy.

I have only had moments of that, and then I stumble again and hang on to too much or worry too much or grieve what is lost rather than live what is in front of me.

I think we both feel a lot for others. But again, when you did, you were able to push through it and DO what was needed to help those people. I, on the otherhand, get tongued tied or scared or freeze in times of worry or emergency.

I would have really not made a good doctor, Mom. I know you were hoping your kids would maybe go in that direction in their careers, but it was definitely not something I should be doing. I hate hospitals (like you- haha), and blood and I can get absent minded which helps my creative side but would not be good for medical care.

But in all seriousness, another really important quality I think we share is our inability to ask for what we want, for fear of being a burden to others. I think part of it comes from us wanting to be self-sufficent, and independent, and being a little stubborn. We both try to pretend we can handle more than we can (Well, maybe you really could. But in your case, you shouldn’t have had to). I think burn out can be a real thing, and can manifest in our bodies and cause issues with our health.

But somewhere, somehow, we learned that we had to do it ourselves, that asking for help was somehow weak. Or maybe when we did ask for help, it wasn’t done in the way or with the values that we would have liked. So… we thought it was better done ourselves than to rely on others.

We also really love kids. I do, even though I don’t have any myself. But it is a big reason I became a teacher. I think you were more the nurturer of kids- you liked giving them a feeling of home and unconditional love. I am more a believer of kids’ incredible ability to be whoever and whatever they want. And I think I try to foster this in them as much as I can. Maybe because I appreciate all those in my life who instilled that faith in myself in me as well.

I think a big difference between us though is that I spend a lot of time self nurturing and getting back to myself because I need it and think it is important, and I wish that you had done more of that for yourself. But I also know that perhaps your Earth element was so strong in you that you got more energized and joyful and felt much more at peace when you were giving to others rather than yourself. I just still wish that I had given more to you to make up for all of your giving. I wish that you had someone in your life that was nurturing, supporting and loving you unconditionally as you did for us. That’s an area that I have not reached. You were the ultimate in that.

I guess that the similarities and differences between us were partly formed in that despite us being mother and daughter, we were still individuals with different paths to lead and different personalities. Some of my own being independent probably came from me watching you do things on your own and being so independent that I thought that was just the way we were supposed to be. But on the flip side, seeing you do so much for others, and rarely taking as much care of yourself, may have made me go a little too far to other extreme of distancing myself from family sometimes so that I can make sure I do have “me” time and get back to me and take care of me.

Strangely enough, many of my motivations- as far as getting a job and having a career, and working hard and being serious with what I was doing and where I wanted to get to with it- came from me wanting to give you a good and better life. To take care of you and take the burden off of you of doing so much. But somewhere along the line, things didn’t go the way that I thought. And I am ashamed to say in the midst of all that, I somehow forgot the big picture of what I was trying to do, without even realizing that I let my focus get sidetracked.

Now, I am trying to do what will make you proud, what will make your life and your giving us life, worthy of you and all you stand for. But I guess I am also trying to do that recognizing that we are different people and I will need to do this in a way that is right for me as well, so that I can find and follow through with my life purpose.

I just know that will not ever be separate from you. I won’t let it be. Again, that is not to hang onto to you or hold you back from your soul’s journey. But just to say that you and I are connected, Mom. And I want to stay connected because, as the sign under my window sill says, “Just one lifetime won’t be enough for us.” At least I know it won’t be for me. I need you, Mom, and I thank you for all that you have given me- your lessons, your example, your caring and your strength.

Love always and forever,  Tas

 

 

 

Ask Mom…

mother and daughter2Dear Mom,

Today’s assignement in the 21 Days of Abundance program is for me to ask you, my mom, two questions:

  1. What has been your greatest pain or greatest disappoinment in your life? and
  2. What is your dream or greatest desire that remains unfulfilled?

Wow. I don’t know about you, but even thinking about asking you these questions feels really heavy for me. The assignment says that if my mother is no longer with me or if I can’t ask her personally, that I can go into a state of meditation and ask her personally.

Since I don’t really go into traditional states of meditation, I am going to use this writing to meditate on this. And ask you, Mom, what would be your answers to these questions.

I could be wrong, but I feel like one of your disappointments or pain would be that your family didn’t stay together the way that you may have wanted. I know family is so important to you. And you were really the glue to our family in my opinion. But even with all of your giving and understanding and patience and forgiveness, there were things that you might have been sad to see torn apart in your bigger family.

That makes me sad. I mean, to think that you could have any regrets or even think that any of it was your fault, it wasn’t. Mom, you did the best that you could. And you kept us all together. Really and truly you did.

I think you also wanted to spend more time with your grandchildren. I am sorry I didn’t help you out more with that. I tried, but sometimes, there were so many people involved, and they weren’t my kids, so it wasn’t easy for me to figure out. I know that wasn’t exactly my fault, but at the same time, I know how much every moment you had with those two girls meant the world to me. I wish I could have given you more of those moments. They love you though. And they know that you did the best that you could. You are an amazing grandmother.

I am scared that you feel that you weren’t there enough for me and your son. And I want you to know, Mom, that I never ever felt that way, nor will I ever. I am amazed at how much you did for us. I don’t know how you did it, in fact. I know that you had said to me on occasion that you wish you had spent more time with us when we were growing up. But I think that you are forgetting that you did. You really did. We understand that you had to go to work. I understand that you were handling so much on your own.

And when I hear about other families where the kids’ moms were just not treating their kids well, or just not putting them first, it shocks me. Because honestly, having you as a mom made me think that that is what moms were all like- giving, nurturing, understanding, sweet, soft, kind and caring. I couldn’t imagine moms being any different than that, or less than that. Sometimes, I heard you under your breath say things that sounded like you thought you didn’t do enough. But mom, I wish you could see and feel how much gratitude I have for you. Your intentions were so heart felt and always so compassionate. I am so honoured to have you as a mom.

2. As far as your dream or greatest desire that remains unfulfilled… I don’t know if I can find an answer to that, an answer from you. Would it be an answer from the past- something you feel like you didn’t fulfill in this lifetime that just passed, or something that you still want to have fulfilled while you are in spirit form now? We didn’t really talk about your dreams. I wish we had. I think you were always trying to support other people’s dreams around you.

I think during your lifetime, you secretly wanted all that love back- all the love that you gave. And that is totally understandable. I wonder if you wanted a house with a husband in it that you loved and who loved you and your kids coming by with everyone more connected and happy. You never showed it or acted like it, but I think you wanted your own real love story. I think you wanted someone to take the burden off of you of doing everything yourself. Not that you ever made us feel like a burden. I know you loved doing things for everyone, but I wonder if looking back, you wanted to also be given to. And that you could feel safe and protected and taken cared of enough to receive all of that. That you could let go of so much responsibility and worry. I don’t know. Perhaps these are my own dreams and desires for you. Or maybe I could feel some of these coming through you when you were here physically with us, and when you are here around us in another form.

I cannot speak for you. But sometimes they say that what we give the most of, is actually what we crave the most. And you were the biggest giver of love and caring and kindness that I knew and will ever know. So I wonder if that is what you wanted back in all honesty- protection, love, giving, kindness.  I know you had so many giving people in your life, but it probably didn’t compare to your giving. But I hope that you are getting that desire met with the utmost power where you are now. Afterall, you are with one of the other most giving, loving mamas that I will ever know- your mom. My Mama.

I love you, Mom. I am sorry I couldn’t help you make all of your dreams come true, and I am sorry that I couldn’t protect you from a life of no regret. But I will try to continue to live out my dreams and desires with the utmost intent for both you and me.

And now I am curious how your Mom would answer these questions. Could you ask her and get back to me on that? I don’t even know if that is possible, but hey, on this Day 12 Assignment and meditation, Deepak Chopra reminds us that there is a “field of all possibilities” that we can throw seeds of intention into for whatever we want or need. And I need to hear from my mom. I need to know that she is okay and at peace and that her mom is taking care of her. And together, they are having a blast. Can’t wait to hear back fro you, Mom, however you decide to reach me.

Love Tas

 

 

 

Another Little Laila

little girl singing2Dear Mom,

I haven’t gone to the gym yet, which is what I’m really trying to get myself to get into the habit of doing more consistently. But what I have been doing consistently is practising singing. I love it.

Last week, I went to a karaoke night all ready to sing “for you” as usual. But I got the feeling you showed up for me there as well. At least I hope that’s what it was.

There was this little girl outside the restaurant, on the patio, sitting with her parents, I presume. She was so animated with her gestures. I couldn’t hear what she was saying, because they were on the other side of the glass windows and I was inside. But I smiled to myself, thinking of how she probably would have reminded you of your granddaughters. You were so entertained by your granddaughters’ antics- especially the rolling eyes, and big enthusiastic hand and arm gestures. And of course, the pointing fingers at her parents. You loved that kind of emphatic, excited way about kids, especially in your own grand kids.

I so wished you were there to see this. I was imagining the look on your face. I so wish you were there, that you are here, to see so many things unfold in the life you created in me, and your son, and your grand kids. And also in your larger family.

The happiness I felt for those moments, thinking about you as I watched this girl outside, kind of seemed to turn into sadness, of missing you.

I was watching the others sing, and being a little social where I was at. But I couldn’t veer my gaze too far from that little girl. I seemed to always be aware of where she was going, as if I was connected to her or knew her somehow.

She came in for bit, to take a peek at one of the singers inside. As she placed her palms of her hands under her chin, she rested her elbows on the corner of a table. She seemed pretty mesmerized by the singer on stage, or maybe by the whole concept of singing.

Dreamy. She seemed to be dreaming- maybe about that being her?

Her parents eventually came inside to join her. I think it was getting colder outside. And the karaoke host had tried to motion to the woman and her daughter that it was their turn to go up next to sing. It turns out that the little girl had put in a song earlier, but now it seemed that she was too shy to go up and sing it.

When I asked the girl which song it was that she would have liked to sing, she said something about girl on fire. I didn’t put the title together with songs I knew, because I figured that since she is five (her mother told me her age), that she was talking about a more young girl’s song.

It turns out it wasn’t so young girl. It was the Beyonce song This Girl is On Fire. I told her it was a good choice. And then I could have sworn I hear the girl’s mom say your name. Laila. As usual, I thought I must have heard her wrong. You know, that wishful thinking of always wanting to hear your name, feel it as a sign that you are nearby, and then sometimes realizing that it wasn’t what was said.

“What is your daughter’s name?” I asked her mom.

“Laila,” she said. I had to fight back the tears. I know my eyes looked upwards and back behind me, or at least to the side of me. I had to look away. I tend to do this more lately when I get emotional and don’t want to overwhelm the people or person in front of me with it.

But I looked back at girl’s mom and said, “My mom’s name was Laila. (Sorry, I should have said it IS Laila). She passed away four years ago.”

The woman looked sorry to hear that. But I said, “No, no. I see this as a sign. That your daughter’s name is Laila. It makes me feel like my mom is here somehow with me, at this very moment.”

“Maybe that’s why you had a connection with my daughter. Why you noticed her.”

Yes, exactly. Maybe.

I offered to sing the This Girl is On Fire song with that little girl. Her mom even tried to convince her to sing it with me. But she was really shy and said no.

I left it alone at that point.

The part that got stranger was that not long after, this young Ismaili guy, funny enough, sitting at the back booth got up to sing a song with this other girl- she was probably in her 20’s. He looked over at me when he got on the stage with her and said, “Could you be her backup? I don’t know this song really.”

I was confused, and didn’t even know what song he was talking about or whether I would even know it.  But he handed me the mic and then I looked up and the song had started.

“She’s just a girl and she’s on fire…”

It was This Girl Is on Fire. I was so shocked. I knew the song, and wanted to sing it, but it was Little Laila’s song. I wanted her to come up and sing it. I tried to motion to the DJ to let him know this was the song the little girl wanted to sing. He tried handing her a third mic. She wasn’t taking it. I walked as far down off the stage with my chorded mic to get the little girl to sing with me. But she wouldn’t.

I sang the rest of the song with the girl who was already on stage and had chosen the song. But all the while, I was thinking what are the chances? Of THAT song being the choice? And that I just happened to ask the little girl which song she would have chosen? And that her name was Laila? This can’t all be coincidence.

I felt badly because I didn’t want the little girl to think that I “stole” her song. That I chose it after she told me she wanted to sing it. I would never have done that. I would have put the song in to see if she would want to sing it. I hope she understood that I didn’t even know that that song was going to be chosen by someone else. I had nothing to do with it.

But did you, Mom?

Did you plant a little Laila in that karaoke place, for me to connect to?

I ask these questions often, trying to be hopeful. And then another part of me sinks down thinking that this is just another way for the universe to remind that you’re gone. And that I didn’t do all I could to help you have the best life you could have. That I was not the best daughter I could have been. That is not the attitude I want to take. So I am going to revert to the hope that this was you, bringing another little innocent Laila into my path, to tell me you are always there with me.

I love you, Mom. And I love your name. You and it are forever beautiful. Always in my heart, the name at the tip of my tongue, and its sound resonating all around me.

Layla by Eric Clapton

Hi Mom,

 

I was talking to someone about you a couple of weeks ago near my place. I think I was saying the usual broken record stuff about how I’m not sure that I feel you. I don’t know if the signs are you. I don’t know if you are okay. (Yeah, I am still on that track. Sorry. It’s hard though, you know).

But then I walk into Shoppers Drug Mart just after that talk, and as I am walking in, I must have sort of in the back of my head asked you or the universe if you are okay, and guess which song came on?

Layla, by Eric Clapton. So as far as I know, you did not know of Clapton or that song when you were here physically. It doesn’t seem like your kind of music. Haha. But… it’s the only song I am aware of that has the name Laila or Layla in it that could possible be played in a store like that. Though, it would have been awesome if Laila oh Laila the Hindi Bollywood song came on. That would have freaked me out, but in a really great way. Can you make things like that happen?

Anyway, I smiled. I mean, I really, really smiled, because I got another little taste of this feeling of happiness, hope, possible peace and relief that maybe that was from you.  I don’t know. I should know though, right? I mean, should I just believe without a doubt, and feel and hang onto that emotion until my mind and body believe without a doubt?

I’ve been reading a book about this- You Are the Placebo- by Dr. Joe Dispenza. It’s about how when we align our emotions to a future event or occurrence that we want to have happen, our body thinks it is already happening, so it makes the shift as if it is in that future. That is the placebo without a placebo pill. We can create that in our own bodies, says this doctor. I believe that to such a deep extent medically. Though in your case, when you were in the hospital, I feel like you weren’t given a chance to do this. How can that work when you are sedated and can’t see, hear or talk? That just kills me inside. That thought.

But I need to stop focusing on that thought, and put myself in the emotion and thought that you are still with me. That you are giving me signs along the way. And hopefully, you are getting a little frustrated with me not fully believing, but in a funny way. I am trying to believe mom.

The lines in the Clapton song that seemed so fitting are:

“Layla, you got me on my knees Layla. I’m begging darling please, Laila. Darling won’t you ease my wary mind.”

It’s the wary mind I’m trying to sort out. My own, that is.

I walked to the post office connected to Shoppers just as the song was ending.  I was there making photocopies of some passages from another book I was reading at that time- Through My Eyes, by Gordon Smith.  Here I was- with the proof in my hands- from the words of this Medium. Exactly what I wanted confirmation of, he gives in his book. That there is life after death, that we don’t really die, and that souls speak to one another. That our loved ones are okay and they are speaking to us without words.

I ended up telling the lady working at the post office about the Clapton song and about you. And she was in tears. She ended up sharing with me that her mom passed away, and she too misses her very much. For all the times I went into that post office, I never knew any of this about this woman. Thank you for connecting us. Can you do that too? Connect me to people who can either help me or I can help them in some way? I always wonder about that.

I told the woman about the book I had with me, and I left her a copy of one of the first stories in it.

She told me that there is a woman who comes to the post office on and off who seems to be clairvoyant or is it clairsencient?  Anyway, supposedly, she passed on some messages to the lady at the post office that were quite accurate. This clairvoyant woman also said that there are many spirits in the building where Shoppers is located, specifically in the post office and down at the other end of the complex where there is a big dollar shop. It used to be a movie theater. I remember that theater, actually.

But yeah, it didn’t sound spooky or haunted or ridiculous what she said. It actually made me feel hopeful, and curious about which spirits around us and where. And I like the idea that those souls who have passed away can still be looking out for us. And that maybe they have particular favorite spots they like to hang out it. Haha.

It gives me a picture of their lightness, their playfulness, their carefree and happy nature. Their peace and their everlasting love and energy.

I want to feel that from you. That you are happy, free, at peace, and having the time of your… well, after-life. 🙂

Love you, Mom, forever and ever.

Laila, oh Leila, Layla

Laila1Dear Mom,

Besides latching onto hearing your name called out in a cemetery as a sign that you’re okay, I also have been following your name around in terms of other types of signs.

The first one I remember is when I was apartment hunting. After you passed away, just after actually, I needed to look for a new place to live because my previous roommate was selling the place I was living in.

I didn’t know whether I was going to stay in North Vancouver or move to some other area. All I knew is that I was feeling lost. You had just passed away. I was devastated (and some would say I still am after four years). But I was in shock of a different kind back then, and I had to move, and I didn’t know how I was going to afford paying for just a room in a shared place (which I was getting an amazing deal for) compared to living in my own place somewhere else.

I was pretty certain I could not live with roommates anymore, mostly because I needed to do my own grieving, healing and just be allowed to be sad without worrying that someone around me would be brought down by it. I needed to be on my own and figure out… well,  my life. I didn’t know how to live it without you and frankly, I still don’t. But I just take each day as it comes.

Anyway, I was looking in the paper or on craigslist- I can’t even remember- for apartments.

And then I was also just driving around to see what was available.

I ended up being really drawn to this apartment for rent in the Joyce Station area. It’s not even a spot that I would have thought of before. But firstly, the rent was way more reasonable than any of the other places I was looking at, the place seemed pretty decent from what I heard and saw in the pictures and from the person renting it out. But mostly, what made me think that this is the place I needed to move into was that the girl who was currently in it- who was advertising it- her name was Laila. I can’t remember if she spelled it the same way your name was spelled or if it was with an e. I think it was Laila. Same as yours.

Laila ShirtAnd so of course, a big part of me was hoping that this was somehow ordained by you. So not only was I being led to the apartment that I needed to find, but I also was maybe getting a sign that you are always with me, and that you are so okay and well and happy, that you were already helping me find the right place for me to move into.

Well, that apartment didn’t work out for me. I actually really liked it. It was really cute, and I ended up meeting that Laila. She was a sweet, beautiful young girl. Her and her boyfriend were moving out together into a bigger place. I told her the story of how and why I was drawn to her apartment, and her name. She seemed to empathize with me and hoped that I would get the apartment.

The choice wasn’t up to her. I guess it was the manager’s decision and it turned out that there were a few other people on the list of potential tenants before me. Someone else got chosen for that place.

Though it would have been less costly to stay there, I ended up choosing the place I am in now instead. It is in an area that I love, and is probably safer and allows me more interaction with people and freedom to sing in my apartment (which has somehow become a huge part of my life these days).

The place near Joyce Station would have been way more affordable, but maybe not in the long run since it is further out from the center of town. Mostly, I liked the association with your name at that time and I somehow thought I was losing not only the opportunity to stay there, but also the hope that you had something to do with it. I wanted to believe that your name and you led me there.

But my current place is owned by Ismailis, and is so close to the first elementary school I went to, and to the area where we grew up in the first few years of my life. In that sense, it brings me back to you, and connects me to childhood memories or surroundings that I think I may have otherwise had forgotten.

Though there isn’t a particular Laila in this building that I know of, I would still like to think that you somehow led me here. This place brings me peace. I have helpful and kind neighbors.  I feel a lot of freedom and security here. The tree lined streets, quaint coffee shops, convenient grocery and drugstores, and a reminder of where i came from surrounds me. A reminder of the “simple” life, living with you growing up here, and having had a mom who raised me without having much herself.

I don’t know how you did it, Mom.

But I am grateful for it and you every day. And Laila is still the name that rings in my heart always. I pick up on it in all its forms and spellings, but especially the “ai” version. Sometimes, I see it in books- as a name of an author or character. Other times, it’s on advertisements for performances- especially middle eastern dance or music. And sometimes, I just keep my ears open for the name in case the wind whispers it in my ear to tell me you are near. Laila. It is such a beautiful name.

LailaShirt3

I miss you, Mom. I miss you so much.

 

Where should we go?

dream travel

Hi Mom,

I had a dream last night or this morning that I was at some event. It looked like an Indian or maybe even Ismaili function. I just remember seeing some clothes that looked a little Indian-like, and that smell- you know the one?- Of chai and sweets and maybe even uger baathi (incense).  Anyway, I don’t even know what I was doing there.

But in front of this plain white door was laying this outfit, on the floor. It didn’t look like something I recognized of yours. But at the same time, I don’t know how to explain it, but I felt as if you had just been in it. As if you’d been wearing it. But then you kind of disappeared out of it. Like your physical form just left it and it lay on the ground not in a pile, but almost in the position it would be in if you had been sitting in it and leaning against the wall or door it was in front of.

It was an Indian outfit. Pale blue and white, I think. Light fabric. Maybe some little sequins on it.

Then, out of nowhere, you appeared. Not in the outfit, but just watching me look at the outfit. I stared at it with such sadness. You could probably see that. And I might have even asked around, wondering where the outfit came from and why it was there.

But then you were behind me. I don’t know what you were wearing. But you looked sad too, I think.  But you looked at me as if it was normal for you to be there, right near me. And I was kind of in shock and didn’t know what to do.  I knew you were not alive anymore, but as usual in my dreams, it felt as if you didn’t know this. And I never want to tell you or say anything about it in my dream. So I don’t know.

And instead, I just waited for you to say something. And you looked at me and said, “I miss you. Can we go somewhere after this?”

I cried. And I’m still crying at the thought of it as I write this to you.  I didn’t want to wait until after the event was over. I wanted to say why don’t we go now?  But I think I just cried in my dream and then woke up crying.

I don’t want you to miss me so much that you’d be so sad.  I don’t want you to be sad. And I know you don’t want me to be sad either. So I guess I can only try to turn this around and say, I miss you too, Mom.  You have no idea.

And I would have gone anywhere with you.  I wonder where you’d have wanted to go. To eat, to a different city or continent? For a drive or a walk? Or just to your home somewhere?

I’d like to imagine or pretend we could go somewhere together. Where should we go? Your choice. I want to take you anywhere you want to go.

Thanks for coming into my dream. Don’t be sad though, Mom.  I think I remember you had your hair done nicely in the dream.  That made me smile. That you were somehow still dressing up for any events, even if they were just to show up in dreams.

She Used To Be Mine

Dear Mom,

waitress-a-r-t-jessie-mueller.jpgI went to see the musical Waitress over the weekend. It is a stage adaptation of the movie Waitress which I guess came out a long time ago, or awhile ago. I never saw it and can’t find it on Netflix.  I started using Netflix after you passed away. Sorry. If I had figure it out before, I would have shown you how to use it.

Anyway, the reason I went all the way to Seattle to see this show is because

1) It didn’t look like it was coming to Canada, or at least not to Vancouver.

2) One of my all time favourite singer/songwriters Sara Bareilles wrote the music for it.

3) She Used to Be Mine- one of the songs in the musical.

I’ve been singing Sara Bareilles’ songs now for sometime.  Her lyrics and compositions are so unique and full of memorable images and pauses, and syncopations and she has a beautiful voice.  I love how every song really says something. I mean, the something is always profound, or playful, or poignant or all of the above.  I feel changed after going through the stories in her lyrics and music.

But in particular, “She Use To Be Mine” gripped me almost from the first note, but definitely from the first few phrases.  I first heard it at a live concert of Sara Bareilles’. My roommate Karen and I went to see the concert in Seattle a few years ago.  At that time, you were still around, and the song still spoke to me, gripped my heart, and made me catch my breath a little. It made me sad, and happy, and feeling alive and inspired, but also pained and empathetic as well- towards the subject of the song or to myself, I don’t know.

It was explained to us at that time that Sara Bareilles wrote the song for the musical, and that the musical would be out in a couple of years. It was also explained to us that the song came about because the character in the play is pregnant, but she doesn’t want to have the baby. She is with a guy who doesn’t treat her well, and she doesn’t have a good paying job or much stability. So she feels like she has nothing to offer the child, and also seems to miss the person she thought she would become.

So at that time, the “She used to be mine” chorus made sense to me as Sara Bareilles meant it- that the person who was the dreamer and beauty, and go getter used to be a part of the main character. I think her name was Jenna. But that Jenna was mourning her passing- as if that part of her had gone and died. Was no longer there. As Sara Bareilles said in her concert- it is a concept and feeling we can all probably relate to- when something in our lives passes over us, and we don’t look or act or have the time to be or do that thing anymore that used to be such a part of us.

I fell in love with the song instantly, and when I got back to Vancouver, I wanted to sing it. I learned it and kept practising it. And something in it always brought me to tears, whether I heard it, was singing along with it, or just singing it on my own.

But after you passed away, I couldn’t say the chorus lines anymore without just breaking down.  The “She used to be mine” line made me think that I was somehow referring to you, especially when I had to sing the whole line, “She is gone but she used to be mine.”

I found out recently that one of the karaoke places I go to often has that song available for people to sing. So I started singing it again. I try to imagine that I am singing it for you, or to you, or to tell people about you.

But there is a change that I make in mind when it comes to the song and the lyrics.  Whether I imagine the “she” who is gone to be a part of me or to be you, I don’t allow myself to believe the “used to be mine” part.  You are still mine and will always be mine, mom.  As I have written to you before, no one can ever take your place. No one can every be or try to be my mom. You are the only mom I want, the only one I had, and the only one I still have. There is no “used to”. You are still mine. My mother.  I hope you know that. I hope you know that I never forget about you and never will.

In the play, the main character ends up loving her daughter the moment she was born, and deciding to take care of her on her own. She doesn’t want the father to be around because she knows that he is selfish and doesn’t know how to love the woman let alone a child.  And I thought it was so beautiful but also so sad, how selfless this woman becomes to give her all to her child.  Without any help.

She would speak to the baby when she was in her stomach. Dear baby, she would say.  She would tell the baby her fears but also her dreams for the baby, that she wished that she could give her everything.

I know you were that kind of mom, but you didn’t have to tell me what you hoped to give me. You just did it.  I don’t know how. And it breaks my heart a little every day to think of how much you sacrificed for me. How there may have been so many parts of you that went away or had to go because you ended up putting me first, putting both of your kids first.

So I feel like apologizing and thank you all at the same time. I am sorry for all the things you had to do day in and day out to keep us safe, and cared for, and fed and loved, when sometimes that meant you didn’t have the time or energy to give that same caring and love to yourself.  Thank you, Mommy for having me, for caring for me, for sacrificing for me, for standing up for me and keeping me protected and happy.

In the play, the main character’s mom has already passed away. But she was taught to make pies from her, and so she continues to do so- talking about some of her mom’s favourite pie flavours.

What would I choose as a pie name for you? Sweet, Laila Mama pie?  Whatever it is, it could never capture all that you were and are to me.  I don’t know how to ever repay you for all that you have done for me. I wish I had done more to show you how grateful I was for you during the time you were here. Please give me signs as to what I can do now for you. I know it is not the same, but I want to try.  I cried so much in the play- for not being able to tell you all that I want to now.  For not having mother daughter moments with you anymore. Is there a way to still have different kinds?- that surpass time and space? I need my mom still, and always will.

 

You’re Simply the Best

Dear Mom,

I’ve been trying to get over my fear of singing in front of people, so I’ve been going out to Karoake more often. I still get nervous, and can be hard on myself in terms of how my singing voice comes across, but I try to remember why I am doing this. It’s not supposed to be just about pleasing others, or about comparing myself to others. But just about using my voice to reach others, and to reach something deep down in myself. And to bring it out. But mostly, I want to sing for you, and I need to keep reminding myself of that. That keeps it real for me, or unreal, depending on how you look at it.

Unreal because I want you to be able to hear me. I hope you do. I hope you hear me and it brings you peace and happiness. I hope the resonance of music and my voice making it transcends this supposed boundary between heaven and earth, between you and me.  Even the songwriting that I’ve been dabbling in lately is for you.

I was sitting next to this guy at a sushi bar a couple of years ago in Seattle. And we got to talking, and he said it really well when he said something like, “The funny thing is that the more you sing and create music, people will think the songs are all about some guy, some big love and heartbreak in your life. But in fact, all the songs will be about your mom, and people won’t even realize.”

And he’s right, except for the “people won’t even realize” part.  Because I am going to tell them. I will make sure that as much as I can, I will be telling people about you, telling them that the songs are for you and about you.

The one I want to learn now is called Simply the Best by Tina Turner.  Because that’s what you are, and will always be- the best.  One of the hosts at the karaoke places sings the song a lot. She does such a great job of it. And even though it is an older song, she just makes me FEEL it, when she sings it. And so now, it is in my head often.  And you are in my heart always. And I want to blend the two together to sing You’re Simply the Best for you, my mother, the best thing that ever happened to me.

Thank you for being my mom and for giving me so much love and kindness and sweetness in my life.

This song, and all other songs really, are for you.

“You’re simply the best

Better than all the rest

Better than anyone

Anyone I ever met

I’m stuck on your heart

I hang on ever word you say…” 

Navroz Mubarak

Dear Mom,

Guess where I went AFTER dance class this time, instead of before? Khane! Yes, I know I said it’s only a few steps away from my zouk class, but I usually would drive out to the zouk social after, if I have the energy to do any dance.  But you know what I danced instead last night? You’ll never believe it. Rasra!!!

No really! You don’t believe me, do you? Or maybe you do, because you were there somehow in spirit and were the reason I even got the urge to do it?

I did tell everyone that I was joining the rasra circle for you, my mom.  It’s true. And I was with a whole bunch of boody mas- older women. And men, too. But mom, some of these women can dance!!! How do they keep it up for so long? I was exhausted after just a couple of songs. But these women in their 60’s and even older were just going on and on and on. And with a LOT of energy!

That dance takes a lot of cardio. Man. I had my zouk class before then, but we move in a less jumpy way. This rasra stuff was definitely taking my breath, or pumping my heart. And when you do it properly, it really works your calves. Who knew?

This older woman in front of me was trying to teach me, because I seriously felt, and obviously looked, lost when I first joined them.  And because I am a dancer, I wanted to not just get through, but also do some impressive turns and get the feet in rhythm and all of that. It looks easier than it is, for sure.  But I tried to get some spins in there to see if you might feel that energy, if you might be able to feel the reverberations of it. Of me sharing it with you.

I am sorry I didn’t have sherbet. You know I never really liked that stuff. Maybe without the nuts and stuff. I like stuff a little plain. I did have cake though. Just for you.  It was not as good as your cake though. No one’s ever will be. But that’s okay.  Yours and you will always be my favorite. Nothing can compare.

So yeah, if you haven’t already guessed, I went out there because it was Kushiali- December 31st.  They had a cake to celebrate Hazar Imam’s birthday. My friend and I were laughing because the candles weren’t being blown out. We were a bit worried that they would just let them die down on their own on the cake.

I don’t know many people at all in that Khane. I felt out of place, to be honest. Not in a non-welcoming way.  But just in a “what am I doing here?” way.  And then I remembered- I am celebrating for my mom.  I am sorry I didn’t celebrate Navroz enough with you,  Mom. I just never resonated with it. I felt disconnected from it. But I see now that it would have just kept us more connected. Given us more of an excuse to share more memories together.

But now I cannot bring back those days. I cannot turn back time to change the opportunities that I missed. All I can do is celebrate them with you in another way now.  I hope you can feel it, somehow. I hope you know that if I had the chance again, I would get out and have cake and do some rasra rounds with you, and even have sherbet. Anything to spend more time with and around my mom. Now I can only hope that you are surrounding me in another way.

Love you, Mom.

Navroz Mubarak.