What is your mother’s name?
You roll your father’s name off your tongue like it is your own name
You proudly say you are the daughter of a Mr
But you are not
The woman who gave birth to you is reduced to a nick name
Maa, mom, mummy
You sometimes call out to her in a language older than you
But what is her name?
You pick up phone every night and type M, select mom and dial
You buy her a cake for her birthday and when the shop lady asks you what should be the wish
You proudly say, “Happy birthday mummy”
But she was a shashikala first named after the moon
Or may be an Usha for the morning sun
Or may be she was called Nancy because her mother loved the detective series
Or she was a beautiful Neelima or a Mamta, Seema, Nagma, Sandhya, Iram or Faiza
May be she had a nickname as mundane as Pinku
And was teased by her classmates and called, Regal, for walking like a Queen
Or may be she was a Queen
With an invisible crown
But for nine months after she carried you in her belly and nine years and thirty decades later
She turned into Maa, mummy, aai, amma.
Her name, her nickname, the smile when someone called out her name buried under your birth.
Here lies a tombstone,
Made of love, kindness and secret recipes
Her name cut and thrown
With the umbilical cord
Of her child.