Amma // அம்மா

When Amma left Yalpanam, she left behind everything. She left her kingdom of juicy mangoes and coloured batik sarees and endless pink sunsets. In her wake were elephants with skin that wrinkled in the heat, and an endless civil war that would cause many girls her age to never wrinkle again.

When she and my Appa arrived at the airport in their new world, they stood at the top of an escalator. They held each other, and they sobbed.

My Amma didn't let me forget my origin. I would wake up early on Saturday mornings to watch cartoons, only to find myself promptly abducted to Tamil classes, clothed in kurthas and veddis, learning the Thirukkural and Bharathiyar, memorising my lines in a play about Mirabai’s devotion to Krishna.

My Amma gave up everything for me. After working all evening in her saree business, she would wake up in the middle of the night to commute for hours to her minimum wage factory job miles away, to make sure we could afford the Pokemon cards I couldn't live without.

It is her saree business that is her pride and joy. With only a few words of English, she has built something for herself in a world where her brown skin means she ought to shrink down in front of white men.

She is a queen that has given me all the privileges that I have. To my Amma and all immigrant mothers, happy mothers day.