My mother’s skin has an earthy smell. Her golden wedding necklace chimes against her chest when she walks. Her face is too familiar to describe – dark hair, pale complexion, strawberry-shaped nose. Her fingers touch the metal strings of the wise goddess Saraswati’s own instrument, the veena. She gives us the tastes of spicy tomato rasam, the comfort of plain yogurt and rice.
Of all the senses, it takes the sixth one to capture my mother in words. The life of an immigrant is one of finding roots in foreign soils. Her role as mother is to anchor us in a culture that seems anchorless.
That anchor is our tradition, our religion. The kolam drawn at the threshold of the home with rice flour consecrates Mother Earth, and provides food for ants that otherwise might become pests. We offer flower petals during worship. Such rituals remind us of our connection to the Earth.
Natural processes include the pain of growing up, dandelion seeds floating on the wind. Years later my mother still bears the wound of leaving home, and now must face the wound of her daughters putting down roots in soil she did not choose.
The Earth has a way of healing wounds, with the slow march of seasons. I someday want to be a mother, though I know it is not the only component of my destiny. My own rituals will be forever shaped by my auspicious, wounded, bountiful mothers, grandmothers – my heritage. Thank you Amma.