My mother used to peel onions a whole lot of the time. Or atleast that’s what I thought when I was young. Whenever I saw her face watery, her eyes blurred and fixed vaguely on nothing, she would be quick to say that she had been peeling onions. Too quick, almost before I could ask. It didn’t matter that we had a cook and she didn’t really have to go into the kitchen too much. As I grew up, I knew that there was something mysterious about this whole onion peeling process. Where were the special onions with that pungent aroma designed to make her cry? Did they grow with an extra special something that triggered off an explosion in her slightly squashed nose and wander up to her dull eyes, I wondered. Whatever it was, they didn’t seem to affect anyone else in the same way. My sister showed signs of developing some of this affliction, but she stopped it, the day they compared her to my mother. It was slightly embarrassing to her, I could see that. Like she couldn’t come out with it right away and say, How could I be like you, what resemblance do they see! And yet it was obvious what she felt. Not that we didn’t love our mother. We did, really. But most of the time, we didn’t want to be like her. If we had to have a model, couldn’t we choose our friend Amita’s mother, so elegant in her chiffon saris and single strand pearls. Not like mother, who wore saris most of the time and never left her hair untied. And that awful crying she did when she thought no one was looking. Especially when father wasn’t around. I never learnt my mother’s story truly, the way you hear a good story from the start to the finish. It was always a jumble of scenes, moving from past to present in disconnected moments that I couldn’t make sense of. Maybe I didn’t listen hard enough. Sometimes, I even wonder, whether she had a special fondness for onions. Although I know it wasn’t true.