A few weeks ago, I got the most wonderful opportunity to be part of an event called “Way, Shape, Form”, organized by McSWAY (McGill Students Spoken Word Associated Youth). The concept of the event is what intrigued me: being paired with a poem by a writer, and given the task to create art based on what the poem evoked for you.
I was paired with the lovely poet, Lavanya Huria, and her beautiful poem “My Mother, The Goddess”. From the very first line I was captivated, and it was this first line that stuck with me weeks after reading it : I look like my mother.
The next weeks were spent digging through old photos from the house where my grandmother lived last while she was alive, photos which are now kept by my uncle. Each photo in the same spot on each page in each album where they were first placed, many years ago.
I was on a mission, which was best, because I think the overwhelming sight of pictures of relatives, both alive and passed, would have left me in a state of melancholy. Nostalgic for a time I never knew, not understanding how that could be possible.
My mother doesn’t speak of childhood much. Speaking of family leaves her sad sometimes, a sad that I don’t think she ever got used to.
My grandmother, on the other hand, was one of the best storytellers. She died, too soon, when I was eighteen, almost a month after my birthday. I still wear her gold bangle on my wrist, a gift she gave me when I turned sixteen. It was her own bangle, and she herself took it off her own wrist and put it on mine.
My grandmother was a warrior. They say Sikhs are born warriors, you know. Maybe that’s true. But regardless of whether my grandmother was born a warrior, she also earned that title many times over.
I never knew my great-grandmother. I only know one story about her, of which I understand very little. She saw heaven in a vision while she was still alive. The gurus themselves coming to greet her.
Some days I feel heavy with the weight of my mothers’ stories. Then I feel guilty, wondering if they would think of me as weak, wanting to give up a fight that I don’t understand as easily as it came for me.
Then I wonder how far into the past this lineage of warriorhood goes. And if any of my mothers ever felt the same.