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: Unknown)

Dear Mama,

I was too little to know when the picture was taken, but I do recall you telling me that the picture was taken by Daddy. I am still a hand-held doll in the picture. You are looking into the camera with a lot of love and I am looking into the camera with inexplicable eye and a clean-shaven head falling short of expressions. In that picture, you and I have freshly woken up from sleep and are dressed in our respective night dresses… differing shades of pink. It is a slow picture taken post a long and rested beauty sleep. The background peeking out of a half-opened door behind us and mingling with our sleep-laden moment is a smell of crisp green, rain, and mud slipping behind us. There was a certain coolness to your eyes, and love for the man in your life, but no love for me, or so I think to be. 

Still craving to be yours, 

Your Little Girl.

(Date stamp: Sometimes during the time there were fireworks in the cantonment area.)

Dear Mama,

Today, I cut my ankle between cycle spokes when tiny-hands Isaah Cha was cycling me to see the fireworks held in the campus grounds. I was in no mood to go, but I guess, and I could be wrong, I was pushed into going to see the firework, or I threw a tantrum to go see fireworks when nobody else wanted to. Both scenes are equally likely. 

My bleeding ankle is ridden back to the house on tiny-hands Isaah Cha’s silver lining of a bicycle, who returned me just as he took me away with the same care and love, retracing his backward journey along the same bend as his onward journey. I cry all the way without stopping and stopping only for the hiccups to subside. This makes Daddy only angrier, whose first reaction on seeing blood on me was a shrug of shoulders.

“Do not cry or I will hit you hard. We are done taking care of you. Khan Uncle would be there… now are you done scheming?”

He drives me to Dr. Uncle’s clinic in his open jeep, all the way cursing under his breath. We stride towards the Hospital building, by now cloaked in the black night air, and feverish lisp of complaints: “That is why you keep falling sick, don’t you? For Udi?” 

No child likes falling sick, Mama. I was wondering what will happen if my ankle gets stuck between cycle wheels. Now, I know that it earns a crying child three stitches on her left heel, and a scolding from Daddy. And it also earns Isaah Cha’s care and Dr. Uncle’s dressing.

Your Little Girl-with-three-stitches-on-her-left heel.

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