Medha hated this task – of clearing up her mother’s home after her death. There were memories attached to every corner of the room. As she dallied, she could almost hear her mother telling her to hurry up.
Sighing, she went to her shelf and pulled out the books and the files. One of them caught her eye because it was different from the rest. Hand-crafted, despite the grime covering it, she could make out the diligent care with which her mother had made it.
She sat down, dusting the folder, and opened it.
“University first!” Kanika kissed her daughter’s forehead at her achievement.
Medha smiled through her tears as she hugged her mother. Medha had worked hard to be the university topper and she was really thrilled. Her phone beeped constantly as friends and relatives pinged congratulatory messages.
Her mother stood by and watched with a smile. That night, as Medha went to bed, Kanika sat by her, caressing her daughter’s forehead. “I have something for you…”
She reached over to pick up a folder – the folder that Medha had in her hands – and handed it over to her daughter. Medha looked at it with widened eyes. “What! Wow!” She had seen her mother working on it but hadn’t known what it was for. Her mother was always busy with some craftwork.
“Beautiful! Is this for me?” Medha asked.
Her mother nodded. “Open it and see…”
Medha sat up. Her smile turned to a grin as she saw her certificate declaring her rank was the first sheet. Then, there were some photographs from her infancy till then. Finally, there was a hand-written letter. Medha rolled her eyes as she chuckled. “Mom, nowadays people do it online, in Facebook and Google, creating memories. Hand-written and this folder system is so old fashioned!”
Kanika felt a small prick but stubbornly replied, “This is more personal.”
“Of course,” Medha said for her mother’s sake and hugged her. Then, she showed her mother the messages that had been pouring in constantly. She showed her aunt’s message, worded beautifully and with pictures of Medha with the aunt. She watched her mother, to see if she got the point. Even as they looked at her Facebook, there were likes and comments that kept getting added.
She did eventually read her mother’s note, and then put it away.
Soon after she moved cities, got married, changed phones and 10 years had passed since. A teardrop perched itself on the edges of her eyes. She closed her eyes for a second and wondered if she could retrieve her aunt’s post, or that sent by her friends that day. Or in the subsequent years.
Yes, she had digitized several photographs, even the ones in this folder. But to save space, she had had to delete some, put on cloud, save in external hard disks… Only to be forgotten. Or retrieved only when absolutely necessary.
She wiped the dust off the folder and opened it again. Memories of her mother making it flashed through her mind. She took the folder close to her nose and could even smell her mother. The pages looked well-thumbed. No doubt, her mother had browsed this folder that Medha had very carelessly left behind, several times.
She saw there were more hand-written notes. Her mother had written at every milestone Medha had crossed, but had never posted them to her. She too had spoken on the phone or just messaged on Whatsapp. But her true feelings were here – her pride, her joy, her fears… Recorded in detail, evoking detailed images that the short messages had never conveyed.
Medha saw her life once again through her mother’s eyes, relived those moments, the intense pain and joys.
She lay on the floor, the folder on her chest, comforting, as if her mother were still here, with her.
This time, she packed the folder and the photo album. The social media would continue to evolve, but letters and photos. They would be her link to her mother and her past.