People write letters to one another out of love and in confidence. But what if letters are written out of complaints in the age and rage of growing up? This is the foundation of the ‘Dear Mama’ letters. Based on the timeless format of letter writing, these pieces are a young girl writing letters to her not-so-beloved mother in an effort to make peace with life and herself. These heart-wrenching letters are written out of love, written out of despair, and written in the loneliest of nooks for all that needs repair. By bequeathing these letters to them, I wish my readers an immersive, epistolary journey into girlhood and beyond.

-Heena Khan
Junior Girl
Girl Museum Inc.

(Date stamp: On the day Shamayal Di was born)

Dear Mama,

It is Shamayal-with-a-silver-lining-to-her-teeth’s birthday and there is a sibling tiff at home as to who would hand her the birthday gift. I want to be the one doing the honors. A gift after all is something of love. But Shamayal is elder to long-legged Udi and short-Aapa is elder to me, and hence Aapa reasons that she should be the one handing her the gift — elder to elder. I do not agree with this reasoning. Finally, a truce is reached wherein I get to be camera clicked holding the gift; and Aapa would be the one handing her the gift in reality — elder to elder. In return, I get to keep the picture holding the gift for my memory sake. Memories bequeathing what reality snatches away. So that when many years later we would look at the picture, we would think it was Roya who gave away the gift. And it would be a memory forever and not a gift for a day. The picture is taken at the doorstep, with the door left ajar and a line of potted plants lining the view of falling twilight. I am solemnly looking into the camera, the pink square of a box secured in my right hands. Aapa is solemn too, but with no box in her hands, both of us fresh from a fight. Somewhere during the process, I stop crying and decide to be a good girl. I am consoled into believing that I would be handing the gift on Udi’s birthday — younger to younger. Sometimes, memories can be so deceiving. 

Yours Deceived Little Girl.

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