Deva De Silva


Colourful Umbrellas


I draped on my mother walking to school
My rightful place as her little girl
My fingers buried in her soft elbow
In the crook of her arm where sweat buds pooled

Her sari blowing in the wind
Flapping at the back of my head
Its silkiness caressing my skin
Wrapping me with a wholeness
Assumed as my sole privilege
Skipping along to keep up with her pace
My head touching her waist
Walking by her side, feeling safe

Amma held the umbrella, our haven, our shade
Shielding me from prying eyes, sun rays, monsoon rains
Our treasured ritual where she was the shepherd
And I was the obedient sheep that tailed

Every few months our umbrella changed
From new to shabby with time
Plain black to colourful designs
Violet flowers in a green background
Bold yellow tones and red checked lines
Yet, the arm hoisting it up purposefully
Remained the same

As I reached her forearm, as tall as her
Time passed by, our gait matched in rhythm
Then came the time I grew taller than she
Six inches in all, beating her in strength
Yet, nothing changed as she still strained
Guiding me, hoisting the umbrella over me

I cannot recall when the hand holding it swapped
From hers to mine in a silent pact
She was petite, I was robust and tall
Tangled as one, walking to school
I still held on to her and she led me!

One sunny day we happened by
Known eyes that stopped in surprise
I still remember the concerned probe
'Is your mother alright? 'in a shrilly voice

As the realization dawned it made us smile
We chuckled silently, bursting out together
My eyes tearing, her bloomed middle squirming
Walking beside me she looked wan and sickly
Clinging on to me, unable to walk on her own
Instead of her being my power, my rock in life
To the world it appeared as if she was fragile

Outgrown my rightful place as her little girl
It felt awkward to drape on her from then on!

Submitted: Wednesday, November 14, 2012
Edited: Wednesday, November 14, 2012

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