HomeSpotlight on Ethnic Media'Who Are You?' Asked My Mother

‘Who Are You?’ Asked My Mother

I moved my mother to an assisted living facility in India. It’s a decision I can justify intellectually, but cannot rationalize emotionally.

I looked closely into my mother’s dearly familiar face, taking inventory of the changes: the big bruise near her eye, her weight loss, mosquito bites on her neck, her freshly combed hair, and the sweet smell of talcum powder. With moisture gathering in my eyes, I took in the spidery veins tracing unforgettable patterns on the paper-thin skin of her forearms, her milk-white hair, the hooked nose, and those same murky eyes that I hadn’t looked into for four months and 14 days; our longest separation in 16 years. 

My 89-year-old mother had lived in our home in California since 2006. However, it had taken a complicated series of events and considerations that resulted in her occupying Room 211 at Athulya Assisted Living in Chennai, India.

The air-conditioner blasted on high, abating the heat and moistness of August in Chennai. My mother sat on the easy chair I’d bought in March. A blue blanket that my brother gifted was tucked around her. It was the same one that had been folded at the foot of her bed in our house for years.

I Am Your Daughter

Nee yaaru? (Who are you?) my mother asked in Tamil, and her question gouged at me. 

“I am your daughter,” I said. She stared into my face, then turned to look at her caregiver, Vinitha, before turning back. Suddenly, she smiled, and her face lit up. “When did you come?” she asked softly.

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