I realise that I will have lots of research to cover when I look over this month’s writing. With that in mind, I drove over to my 94-year-old mother’s house. She is living by herself and very aware of the Covid-19 restrictions we are living under. My excuse for breaking the ‘do not visit indoors’ rule is that she is a vulnerable person, and I am one of her carers.
I found her watching a snooker ‘champion of champions’ tournament. She likes snooker, which made me feel as if I was an intruder. I told her I wanted to talk about some of the past. Firstly, I said I had a vague memory that she had witnessed a public hanging in her home village in India. I kept using the Punjabi word ‘phansi’ but when I changed to ‘hang’ she said ‘Oh, I remember Manuel. there was such a fuss because afterwards, they said he might have been innocent then they stopped the hangings, and they used the electric chair.’ Now, I am wholly diverted from my research, and it seems I have misremembered, and there was no public hanging.
Okay. I asked about making money from spinning cotton thread and how much could you earn? That was better. Then I wondered about the Sufi dervishes, and she said she had witnessed them in the village. And, who was at my birth? She said it was her mother and her cousin, the same as at my brother’s birth. And then her wedding and I was wrong again. It was a one-day wedding because her father was blind and didn’t earn money. I had explained the whole three-day wedding rituals in my writing. Research does not always go your way.