I caught up with a friend recently.
We are talking over lunch and coffees.
She was telling me about decades of love.
She told me of stretching out her arms.
Of seeking love from her man.
Of seeking touch in the night.
And she told me of the response.
“It was like a slap in the face, Kish,” she told me.
Tears welled in my eyes.
And I realised.
I come from a community which shuns physical touch between men and women in public and maybe even doesn’t relish it in private either.
I’m extremely private, I don’t even feel comfortable holding hands with V in a street where no one knows us.
I’m wary of physical touch, especially if I’m stressed.
I don’t reach forward and hold his hand.
I don’t lean on him the way he does me.
I can’t explain it.
And when she said that.
I thought of Aru’s childhood.
How I lift him, cuddle him, love him, adore him.
I snuggle into him.
I can do this anywhere.
Nose to nose.
Cheek to cheek.
It in his bones.
That his Maa adores him.
I tickle his toes and plant kisses on his forehead.
I rub his tummy.
I sneak under his t-shirt to rub his back.
I am a physical mum.
I get the most satisfaction from his touch.
And I realise.
Vivek probably had that kind of love from his mum.
This regardless abandon of physical love.
Skin to skin.
And here I was.
Yet rejecting him.
And I cry now.
Because I’m trying.
But I will never make up for the million times I might have rejected him.
Made him feel unloved.
Because my finger tips failed him.
My cheeks failed his love.
My arms failed his warmth.
My language didn’t recognise his.
And I try now.
More than ever.
To undo a stigma of touch.
To undo lessons learnt.
With reckless abandon.
As a child, innocent to norms, rules and expectations.