I want to start this post now, tired, really tired, but mega jazzed at having my mum in town. She and her boyfriend are visiting Chandigarh for the weekend. It's rad to look into her eyes, touch her, and it's incredible to speak and hear French again. French. More french. My mum's accent is special, too. It's France French mixed with sing songy Caribbean. It's demanding, sophisticated and lively. Like her, actually. I described my mother without meaning to!
I love this woman.
I expect her to comment on my weight loss, but she doesn't. It's only when I gain weight that she gently tells me; ' ton corps a changer' your body has changed, like she told me when I came home from Thunder Bay, after spending a year studying and eating pizza and wings and drinking beer in bed with a boyfriend.
When I greeted her at the hotel she saw the old B. The beret wearing, waist-cinched-by-a-vintage-belted, scarf clad B, and wondered where the changes were. Then comes out the head bob and the assertive talk with Indians and she quickly came to see indeed her daughter had evolved in India, despite western appearances. I appeased her and wore a salwaar kameez the next day, and the day after that, to her great delight.
The head bob.
"...alors Bianca explique moi le mouvement de tete comme cas? c'est oui out c'est non?"
"C'est plutot oui, maman, mais parfois non." The head bob is confusing to some, but after a day or two, well, you don't have a choice but to adopt it. Observation, imitation =survival.
My mum is from Haiti; so dirt, grime, poverty and corruption is nothing new to her. She fits into India like a fish to water. I can already tell she is loving it. Putting her palms in prayer and namaste-ing every Tom Dick and Harry(every Dinesh, Sunil, and Gupreet). It is endearing. It is warm and innocent. She wants to live what I am living, and insists on hanging out in my market and observe. We have tea, we eat spring rolls, we watch them set up their food stand for the night feast. She is fascinated. She is laughing and enthralled. I can't get over how much I love this woman, and how I get my curiosity and easily satisfied nature from her.
So- after she joins my class(God was she ever awesome: playing games and being my student. My kids fell in love with her), we go to a beautiful hill station, Kasauli, and have a great time visiting a Kali temple, drinking chai and walking around. I take her shopping for her first Salwaar kameez. We eat and eat and eat, and we talk. My mum is very black and white, and doesn't mince words. This can be cutting, and tactless (like me) but it's genuine and refreshing. She tells me how she feels about my situation here. She tells me how she feels about the city I live in, tells me flat out that "c'as te ne resemble pas" (it doesn't resemble me?) and now understands why I try to leave as much as I can. I take in all. We talk so much. This invigorates and exhausts me. My head swims with possibility and truth. Options. Opinions. Orientation.
I have a stack unanswered and important life questions that will be resolved this upcoming week. Time is the main character. I play a role but I don't know which one yet, and this gives me anxiety. I am living a crisis that I didn't know was a crisis till I had my mum candidly point it out to me. Have I overstayed my time? Am I still growing here? Can I get more out of my experience? Does this suit me? Am I protected? Do I have to pack up and leave? Will I get my work papers? Will I be replaced without my knowledge?
The next day we go to the rock garden, the rose garden, leisure valley, drive through some residential sectors, sukna lake. The discussing becomes dramatic and I get agitated, for the more we talk the more uneasy I am about my situation, and see just how tenuous it is.
I come back to my room and still adore it, but now see that the life I lead here isn't attracting what I am actually seeking. This dorm life isn't too mature indeed. And this lack of social life is hard on me. Yes I make the best of it and yes I love my jobs, but a tourist status isn't all that cool, and it took my mum to make me understand this. Also, this experience is without a doubt making me a better teacher and you would think this is so on an international scale, but this school isn't registered nor is it academic. How will this help me get a job in an International school?
I don't know.
I eat to quiet the anxiety, to occupy my taste buds, to appease my need for stimulus and satisfaction, with an urgency that alarms me; is this one of my last Channa Bhatura's? How will I replicate this tea back home? Why buy all these Punjabi suits, will I wear them outside of India? Questions I had NEVER ASKED MYSELF BEFORE.
We hug it out and she gazes into eyes that don't look like hers but that sparkle nonetheless. "Ne t'en fait pas cherie. Respire. Laisse la vie repondre pour toi. "
Don't worry honey. Breathe. Let life answer for you.
I am back in my room, eating my sister Vanessa's insanely delicious cookies, scrutinizing my surroundings, crumbs falling on my laptop. Bhangra music is playing through cheap speakers a few meters far away, a train toot toots its' arrival, fireworks sound off -as if announcing attack on the battlefield.
My mind is mush. My stomach is stretched. My eyes hurt a sour pain.
I don't know what to do.