Author: Nihit Kaul
The walks! That was his favorite memory of his mother. Long walks, short walks, lazy walks, quiet walks, angry walks. Walks that could slow time down. Walks that aimed for the horizon. Walks that dragged on, and on, and on. Aimless walks. Speechless walks. Endless walks. Sad walks and, of course, the many happy walks. Talkative walks sprinkled with his million questions. Why do Zebras have those patterns, Mama? Why do the stars twinkle, Mama? She was always patient - with every question, with every turn. Even when he was rude to her and would throw a tantrum, she would not lose her cool. I guess it helps to have thick skin! Oh, how he missed those walks with her.
There was a lot of contention for that spot of "favorite memory" of his mama. E.g., the mud baths. What fun! They would get filthy, covered from head to toe in mud, as if trying to camouflage themselves and become one with the earth. They tried red mud and grey mud and brown mud baths - colorful memories. He remembered how the mud would dry, and he would laugh when he looked at her funny, parched face. Dried in the grueling summer months but with a smile plastered on it. He missed those mud baths with her.
Oh, and then there was the swimming. For the largest land animal on the planet, they sure loved their swimming. They would spend hours together submerged in the rivers and the lakes, their trunks acting like snorkels as they toyed with the fish and enjoyed the cool waters. He loved trying to swim under her belly and how she would catch him between her legs and not let go till he wiggled in just the right way. And though the whole herd would usually surround them, he always felt like he was alone - just with her. Everyone else just seemed to vanish. Or maybe they disappeared just in his memories? He missed swimming with her.
And, of course, there were the nightly stories she spun for him. Fantastic fairytales that she would concoct out of thin air. He loved how she would ask him for three things he saw during the day and weave those magically into her stories. The stories were never the same, yet they never felt different. They had the smell of warm, freshly baked cookies but with slightly different ingredients each night. They were ephemeral works of art - dispersing every night and melding with the moonlight. He missed her stories.
He missed everything. He couldn't help it. You see an elephant never forgets. But what he missed most of all - more than the walks or the mud baths or the swimming or the stories - was simply her.
He missed his Mama.
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