When I was a child, every summer vacation, my mother would pack up our suitcases and both of us would take the train from Kolkata to Saharanpur to see my grandmother.
She had this huge sprawling house with many servants. I remember one young man who would walk the dogs and sweep the grounds.
One morning, I was playing with my toys in the courtyard when I heard the household talking about how he hadn't shown up that day.
According to family lore, I calmly informed them that the young man wasn't coming because he was dead.
Everyone was shocked at a six-year-old saying that but they were even more horrified when two hours later, they discovered that he had indeed died.
Once, when my mother frantically searched for her gold chain at a house party, I respectfully pointed out the woman who had taken it.
Many incidents later, people proclaimed I had a "gift."
I was overwhelmed with questions and apparently I gave the right answers but I still don't how I figured it out. But I do remember that "soothsaying" for people gave me severe headaches.
"My gift, my intuition, my sixth sense always served me well. I sensed happy, positive people and intuitively turned my back on angry, negative ones."
But my gift, my intuition, my sixth sense always served me well. I sensed happy, positive people and intuitively turned my back on angry, negative ones.
But I never understood how exactly it worked. One day, I would think of a person and minutes later they would show up. I would visualise a plate of fried rice and hours later, we would be a Chinese restaurant. I would picture a monthly magazine and it would be on our doorstep in a moment.
When something "bad" was about to happen, hours or minutes earlier, I would sense it and it always came true. But I suffered during that time because I never knew what exactly was going to happen. My heart rate went up, I felt heavy, sometimes drained, but I reasoned that it was a good thing to have, mostly.
I felt lucky. I fell in love, got married, moved to the United States. Then suddenly one day, I woke up feeling empty. Days later, I felt a heavy depression envelope me and as I searched for answers, nothing came.
My gift was gone. Without it, it was as if someone had turned the lights out and I entered into one of the darkest phases of my life. I made bad choices, trusted the wrong people and stumbled around, completely lost.
I was a junior reporter for a small town newspaper covering the crime beat. All day long, I collected police reports and court records and wrote up the crime blog. I never got a chance to tell great stories or discuss issues. I felt like I wasn't a voice, I was a silhouette. I wondered if I should look for another job or stay put. Without my gift I was a blind person.
Frustrated, I prayed. "God, you didn't make me smart or pretty or rich but you did give me that gift, which you took away. Give me back my gift, please, I can't see what to do with my life."
That night, I dreamt I was walking through a leafy forest. I was following footsteps and then he turned, this perfect looking baby boy, who faced me directly and smiled.
"I answer his questions before he speaks, I complete his sentences, I hand out things to him before he can ask and I tell him what he is going to do before he does it."
For many nights, he kept coming in my dreams. "Mom," I heard and I sat up. Then, I realised he was going to be my future son. The baby looked like a miniature of my husband's childhood pictures.
Weeks later, my pregnancy was confirmed. In dreams, I saw him regularly and began to feel him instinctively. I told everyone what he was going to be like: strong-willed, determined, bold, intelligent and it all came true.
When I held my newborn son, I felt a powerful surge of energy pass through us. I have never ever had a connection so strong with anyone in this planet.
Throughout his 18 years, I woke up before he stirred. I had the Tylenol out before he had the fever, reached for the band aids before he fell and felt him wherever he was.
I still go to the door just before he comes in. In gyms, in libraries, in stores and at social events, I feel him before he steps in. I turn around before he steps in the door.
I answer his questions before he speaks, I complete his sentences, I hand out things to him before he can ask and I tell him what he is going to do before he does it.
This hasn't always made him happy. Sometimes it annoys him, other times it exasperates him but he has gotten used to it.
I never worked again full time. I became a freelance writer and I wrote for prestigious publications and I have gotten recognition but it was never my priority.
My son was. I stayed home with him. I never wanted to be away with him. I read to him, I built castles out of sand, monuments of Lego's, wrote stories for him about him and hugged him.
On Mother's Day, I gratefully acknowledge that this was the meaning of my gift all along. I got it back to serve my son. To clear his path, to protect him and take care of him.
My gift, that was taken back was given back to me doubly, both in the form of my son and my ability to take care of him.
My closeness to him is my connection to God and the Universe. I love my son and he loves me back. He is my legacy and my gift to the world is this amazingly talented, gifted, balanced, intelligent man, who I know will make a huge impact.
I don't want any chocolates, flowers or jewellery. I have my gift. And I celebrate it every day.
Thank you for my son, Joshua Karan Chopra.