It was snowing very early in the season.
Meera hated the snow. For some reason it kept reminding her of the trail of blatant red her drunk mother had left in the white lawn before she had placed herself in the way of the speeding bus. Everything else had blotted out.
Winters and snow had meant she’d be drinking in, and the neighbours witnessing her departure to her place in fair weather with her bottle in hand, spilling along the way.
This was their first Christmas without her. Her and her aunt’s. It took little for her aunt to burst into tears but Meera was secretly glad. Truth be told she didn’t miss the woman who had died. The mother she had loved had died long before that.
Meera silently decorated the tree bringing out the dusty ornaments that hadn’t been used for almost ten years. Her aunt was sitting by herself by the window alternately looking at the snow, and the photograph of her dead sister in her hand.
“She loved the snow, you remember”, she said.
Meera mumbled something incomprehensible. Her aunt didn’t notice.
“It meant that her Meera and she had to go out into the snow, tussle and fight and roll around”, she had a faraway look in her eyes, smiling at a stray memory of the past.
Meera froze in her act of hanging the mistle-toe. She didn’t want to think of the first snow. That it used to be the best time of the year. For her and her mother.
“Cathy, I don’t want to talk about her. Please, Cathy. Don’t. Why don’t you snap out of it? It’s been a year for God’s sake. Get out of it!”
With every syllable uttered Meera got angrier, “I don’t miss her for one bit. She didn’t when she started drinking. She didn’t when I came away to live with you.”
As expected her aunt started to cry.
Meera sighed. She should have known better than to harp on that again.
She went to her aunt and crouched in front of her, “I’m sorry, Cathy. I know it hurts you that I didn’t love her, and that I don’t miss her. But I do wonder what she did to deserve so much loyalty from you?” She added with a derisive laugh.
Cathy looked up, her eyes glinting.
“She gave me back you.”
“What are you talking about?”
“What are you talking about?”
Her eyes were blazing, Meera saw, not from tears but rage and something else.
“She gave me my daughter.”
Guilt. And Remorse.
“I had you when having an illegitimate child still meant living in the dumps, shunned from the society. My sister hid the truth and me from prying eyes, and away from me killing either you or myself. She gave you a place in the society as her own daughter, loved you as such, and let me have you, too”.
Her eyes flashed but her lips quivered, “What do you call that?”
Meera was transfixed. She stared into her aunt’s face seeing nothing.
She was illegitimate. The mother she had known wasn’t her real mother. She couldn’t grasp it. She looked into her aunt’s face. No, not her aunt, her mother. Her biological mother.
She stood up abruptly, and shook her head as if to clear it.
“Well, she didn’t do a good job after all. I had to fend for myself. The semblance of a family I had was taken away from me. The drunk mother.”
She turned to leave.
“Yes, the drunk mother.” Cathy replied softly, looking down, “Who came to learn that her husband had fathered her sister’s child. Who was hurt and betrayed by every person she had loved. Whose daughter, the centre of her life, albeit unknowingly, chose her biological mother over her… Yes, she was only human.
“It is Christmas-time now but her Christmas was only ever with you. You were her family. God, how the two of you loved the first snow.”
N.B. I understand you may not at all like this piece. But I am writing after a long-long-long time. Just felt like getting off the mark, anew being less choosy and less critical, taking head-on the block that has developed in my mind, that keeps telling me I can’t write worth shit. Whatever your opinions and inputs, however, I gladly value them. Love, G.:)