Mother was here.

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I slipped into my bed three hours ago; Sleep is a struggle for some; Insomnia is real.

After an hour of receiving instant gratification from the smartphone, my body began to melt into the mattress beneath it. You consider yourself lucky on the days this happens early. REM phase kicked in quickly, and I forgot to turn off the heater. I never do that, but that’s not important. What’s important is that I didn’t realize when my phone slipped out of my hand. Its fall was luckily cushioned by the carpet. My sleep didn’t break. A room is considered appropriately warm when your nose isn’t cold. I was having my best sleep in December.

“Ves, wake up.” A familiar voice whispered to me. My feet were toasty by that time. I opened my eyes; My view was of a light-aircraft pilot who’d passed out mid-flight, only to wake up and realize, that he was heading towards an erupting volcano. The heat hit my face without mercy. The smoke cleared and I saw the heater, and then my mother. “Ves, you slept without turning off the heater? You’re too exhausted is it.”

“ are you maa..”

She didn’t respond; sat on the other end of my bed near my feet. I hadn’t seen her so calm in many years. They say that who you are from the inside reflects on the outside. It seems true because on the days I did something that was cathartic and soul-satisfying, people told me I looked happier. Maybe mother did something that relieved her of all worries that day. I helped myself up and lolled against the hard headboard; the pillow had fallen. A shot of pain went through my flank.

“ are you”

She smiled and asked, “Did you eat the custard I made for you Ves?”

My brain was still trying to catch up with this fresh-looking human outline in front of me. This face had the least lines, but the voice looked troubled. She had just made her hair it seemed; light bounced off her head like it was the source itself. I thought of the sunrise in Mt. Fuji.

“Your room’s door was open too. You should close all the doors and windows when the heater is on to trap the heat. It can’t be let switched on all night. Your electricity meter will run amok, or worse you’ll burn the whole house.”

“Yes maa..” She made sense, but nothing else did. Why was she suddenly lecturing me in the middle of the night? I’m old enough to know all this I guess so what’s the point. She continued. “Similarly, you can’t put your guard up with idiots all the time, you’ll run out of grace and patience. You need to cut contact with them. Or else they’ll keep breaking in and you’ll lose the warmth inside you.”

She made sense, but nothing else did. How did she know I’ve been ruminating on my behavioral patterns and my frequent disappointments in people? I guess mothers know it all. I’m an extension of her, cell to cell, except for my own 33 years of experiences in life. We’re similar in many ways – we both dislike always-happy people, and bread (and my paternal aunt, Emma).

I wanted to ask her how she knew what was bothering me since yesterday, but she got up and walked out of the room. I thought she’d gone to get the custard. The door was open, and the room became cold. She was right about closing the doors and windows. When she didn’t return, I got out of the bed and walked towards the kitchen. She was there, bent in front of the refrigerator. I smiled; my heart filled with colorful balloons at the sight of her. The chill from the refrigerator hit my face with mercy because coldness has been my thing always. “You’re cold Ves” – I’ve heard this all my life.

“Hey maa…” She didn’t look back and kept fiddling with something inside the refrigerator. Suddenly she straightened up and banged close the fridge door. The loud bang startled me, and my eyes opened. My phone had slipped out of my hand and fallen onto the floor. Its fall wasn’t cushioned by a carpet. There was no carpet. There was no mother.

But mother was here, seven years after she died. The heater was still on; The door was open. I got up and closed it.

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