Kerala Kaumudi Online
Friday, 21 June 2024 5.24 PM IST

'Since then, no one has asked me if I ate anything'; Sheethal Shyam shares memories of her mother


Transgender activist, actress and model Sheethal Shyam recently shared poignant memories of her mother on social media. In her heartfelt note, Sheethal reflects on the complexity of her relationship with her mother, recalling moments of both tough love and nurturing care during her childhood. She acknowledges the profound sense of loss she feels since her mother's passing, highlighting the void left behind by her absence.

Sheethal's words (roughly translated)

The memories with my mother are always long-lasting. I used to praise my mother only when she bought me nice clothes, when she bought me delicious sweets, when she rubbed oil on my head, when she made tasty food. I used to go to the nearby tailor shop and bring back leftover fabric to fashion into a saree, then braid grass from the field into my hair, pretending to be a school teacher and playfully disciplining the plants on the fence with a stick imagining them as children.

I didn't join other children in their games and no one joined me either. Neighbours used to say to my mother, "Radha, this child plays like a girl, don't let him do this" and my mother, upon hearing it, would rush from the kitchen to discipline me.

She would run and hide behind the coconut tree in the adjacent field. I would look for her and she would look for me. I would always be found and she would scold me. I would try to run but my mother was relentless in her discipline. She would try to strike me with a stick, but if she couldn't reach, she'd grab me and when I resisted, she'd throw the stick far away. Then she would suggest, "If you turn the fabric scraps from the tailor shop into a shawl, it would be nice. Just replace the grass with a black net." She would offer these ideas to me. The aunts and uncles who had been watching me get disciplined and they would continue with their work. I would hold onto my mother tightly and she would wipe my face with her saree and give me something to eat. As I grew older, I began my life in Bangalore.

That city fascinated me greatly. Mother would call from home, asking if I had eaten. I would respond angrily, "Why do you always call me? I'll eat when I want to. Don't call me like this all the time." In 2008, I saw that lifeless body lying covered in a saree, stained with kitchen charcoal. Since then no one has asked me if I ate anything. I wish that phone call would come now. Even if we don't have a good picture together.

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