One can’t really imagine, what goes through the mind of a child who is celebrating her second mother’s day, without her mother. What must she be thinking while reading all these saccharine filled messages on Facebook? I am going to introduce you to a mother I knew too well, even though our physical meeting lasted only 2 days. We were tele-friends, who had a telepathy running beyond our mobile phones. Her name is Suzette Jordan.
I would never forget the way she narrated her rape. “My mother? Yes she was there. She was very helpful… but also my daughters. They both helped me recover”. That’s how fondly she remembered Rhea and Jade, her daughters who she credited for her recovery from brutal rape. But that was not all. The mother and daughters were friends. Real cool friends. I am in touch with the family and I can’t fathom the courage to call them on mothers’ day. Though I know that they have accepted the death of their mother, they are not in denial that their mother is still living. Despite not being there in flesh and blood, she is living in their thoughts their memories.
I remember Suzette as a friend today. She was childlike, yet mature. Maybe that’s the reason why she could sit and discuss stuff with her daughters, like she would with a friend. She had limited clothes in her closet, she had a limited number of shoes, but that never stopped her from looking a million bucks. She wore her attitude on her sleeve. She left no room for memories in her closet, there was no hidden self. She was a mother who was a child… a child who was a mother… and a friend who rarely reprimanded her daughters. Someone who was poor at times. But really, the real poverty, is when you have no one to say that ‘at least we are in it together’. She assured her daughters during her penny-less days that they had each other, and that they would survive.
She was a mother, who worked against the odds and round the clock. She was weird in a way. She would wake up and suddenly make plans of going out.
She never let anything stop her. Not her rape, not her economic challenge, not her marital status, not the campaign to malign her by the head of state, not anyone. She lived like a princess, who life made into a tigress.
All this while though, she was a mother, a doting mother to her lovely daughters, Rhea and Jade. And a mother to her sister, Nicqui.
When I hear stories about mothers who made great sacrifices, and gave up their lives to bring up their child, I think of Suzette. Not that she didn’t make adjustments, but she never really made them seem like adjustments. I don’t know, but I never really think she ever made her children feel guilty with dialogues like “do you know how much I have worked?”. Not that I am against mothers who say so, but Suzette was a different breed of Moms. She kept her life floating even as she drowned in the welfare of her children. She held on to her individuality as a friend, as a daughter, as a lover, as a sister, as much as she did in standing up as a mother. It was not an either/or, it was all and all.
People ask me, if she was not raped, would she have been a hero? Indeed, she would have. Her joie de vivre, her compassion towards animals, her passion towards bringing up her children, her ambition to see light in the darkest moments, her ability to crack silly jokes at one of the most trying times – well, that’s what made her a hero.
It is not tragedy that makes people heroes, it is how we deal with tragedies, that does. She dealt with it all, as a single parent, with children in her arms and love in her heart. She never gave up on her children. She brought them up the way she wanted to, and just like she lead her life.
Keep it on, babes...the sexiness, the haughtiness, the sassiness and all that is embodied in her favourite poem as she recites it here, where she speaks about her death too.
Over to you, Rhea and Jade. Bring sexy back!
(Harish Iyer is an equal rights activist working for the rights of the LGBT community, women, children and animals. ‘Rainbow Man’ is Harish’s regular blog for The Quint)