My Amma (Mother) is a worrier. She worries about me, and dad. She worries if we’ve eaten enough, if we’ve slept well, if I’ll find love. She worries about her work, her potted plants, Bombay’s roads, India’s economy, the government… and so on. To escape her addiction to worrying, she works harder than she should, and invests in feeling everything intensely. And it tires her.
Amma’s happy place, away from all her fatigue and worries, is a tiny village in Mangalore. She’s too busy to take a flight to Mangalore, but never enough to take a trip to her childhood memories.
Amma is also my most favourite storyteller. I grew up in a one bedroom-hall-kitchen flat in Mumbai, but I never missed a backyard filled with banana trees. I grew up without siblings, but I felt the thrill of blaming the youngest brother for all the mischief, too. I grew up without pets, but I know all too well the anxiety of missing a cow an hour after dusk. My grandfather passed away before I was born, but the goosebumps on my hands know his thundering voice like he never left. There was no river beside the house in which I grew up, but I’ve gasped for air after having jumped into the Netravati river on a winter morning.
Amma’s stories of her childhood created a new world for me, and her childhood became a part of mine. Her voice(s) and face(s) made me fall in love with Mangalore, her childhood, and above all, stories. A fascination with people as children, began somewhere in a story where my Amma was five, and the world looked very, very different to her wide-eyed self.
“Make a happy place,” she’d said.
As much as I am a daughter of Amma, I’m also a child of the Internet. I practically live online. The Internet is a strangely beautiful thing, I’ll give it that. But it can also get excruciatingly whiny. One of the first things I made on the internet was a whiny tumblr. I made it because I was annoyed with everything, and nothing seemed to be getting better.
That was when I had a conversation with K, which may have, knowingly or unknowingly, laid the foundation of many happy places to come – both online and offline.
Just before I started The Monochrome Collective, I’d had enough of the collective frustrations and hatred I was party to on the Internet. That’s when a little voice in the back of my head reminded me –
“Make a happy place.”
The beautiful drawing of my favourite Calvin and Hobbes that you see on the header, came from here, and has been used under a CC license.